Grazing: First look: Craft

Tom Colicchio's Craft comes to Atlanta

Here is what William Grimes, former dining critic of The New York Times, wrote on June 27, 2001, not long after the opening of Craft:

“Craft invites diners to take a trip. The destination is a simpler, cleaner, more honest America, a place where the corn is bright yellow, the bread exhales clouds of yeasty sweetness and the fish swim in water as pure as Evian.”

What is it about Americans that we are always engaged in utopic yearning? Grimes’ words seem almost trivial until you read mention of the year 2001 and unavoidably think of the nation’s apocalyptic loss of innocence in the attack on the World Trade Center.

And yet, even now, in the midst of the worst economic times since the Great Depression, we are looking more zealously than ever for purity and transcendence at the dining table. We have become Proust, munching on a madeleine whose first taste prompts him to write: “And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory - this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me, it was me.”

I can’t lay claim to a either Grimes’ or Proust’s experience after my first meal at the new Craft Atlanta (3376 Peachtree Rd., 404-995-7580). Undoubtedly, this will cause some to gasp. We’re talking a major pedigree and, dammit, I wanted to transcend the vicissitudes of life and become a precious essence.