My relationship with Craft got off to a rocky start. While the restaurant was getting a lot of good press, my first few meals weren’t that impressive. In fact, I pretty much wrote the restaurant off as one of those places that was liked by a less discriminating diner than I imagined myself to be. I also criticized the way chef/owner Tom Colicchio had deconstructed upper-middle cuisine, turning it into a modern-day version of an à la carte steakhouse; further, Colicchio’s deployment of the “great ingredients prepared simply” strategy didn’t always bear fruit. On certain days the ingredients could be terrific, but on other days not much better than average. And as is occasionally typical of ingredient-driven restaurants, sometimes the food seemed overly plain. One of the first meals I had at Craft seemed to encapsulate this particular problem—an order of softshell crabs was delicious, but the roast baby lamb didn't have much flavor and was tough.