There is something to be said about a brand new restaurant-bar that is packed on their fourth night open for business (a Wednesday). One of these needs to be true: either the owner/chef/mixologist brought a huge following with them (from here or here or here or here here) or it is just awesome. Craft & Commerce is both.
The first thing I loved about Craft & Commerce was the design of the room (which holds about 100 in case you’re wondering). The “Craft” in Craft & Commerce’s interior design refers to the craft of writing. They have bookshelves galore, couches inscribed with quotes from your favorite Steinbeck and Kerouac novels and books on tape playing in the bathroom. The “Commerce” is in the credit card numbers lit up around the bar, the huge “DEMAND LESS” sign cut out on the wall and maybe the doors with parts made from recycled Ford Model T cars.
This is not a space where the designers went into it saying, “Less is more.” It is more likely they said, “We have a million good ideas. Let’s do all of them.” Every square foot has some small detail that shows how thoughtful and creative they were.
We sat at a table near the door and enjoyed a nice breeze and a great view of the rest of the restaurant. The tables are on a little track and they each have a small metal button that you can push down to slide your table into your neighbor’s. My dinner companions showed me this feature, and we bumped pretty hard into the couple on a date next to us. They didn’t seem to mind, and no cocktails were spilled, so I would try it if I were you.
Now, the food. Nothing on the menu has more than 6 ingredients. Expect classic American dishes with enhancements but no twists. Order fried chicken (by the way, who serves fried chicken in San Diego?) and you will get fried chicken, the way you grew up eating it (if you grew up eating it, because I didn’t), only better.
The best appetizer is an assortment of bacon wrapped things – like asparagus and dates stuffed with really soft pepper jack cheese. French fried pickles and sweet potatoes are a close second. For dinner, we had the fried chicken and the burger which they do not mess around with. It is like everything else on the menu, very rich and at the same time simple. One new fan of Craft & Commerce told me the burger is, dare I say it, better than Neighborhood’s. Now do you want to try it?
I am a big fan of beer and champagne cocktails. I am also a big fan of grown-up punch. So imagine my delight when all three are on the menu in great force. Craft & Commerce has three different punch bowls that run at about $40 and serve four people. I have a feeling that, when they start serving brunch, these will be very popular.
Looking for a place in Little Italy to grab a beer after work? Fan of inventive cocktails? Hungry for some high quality, simple American dishes that won’t break the bank? Just want to hang out somewhere with a unique and creative atmosphere? May I recommend Craft & Commerce…