I went to the new opening for American Craft last night in Brookline, Ma. David Ciccolo who owns the Publick House and Monks Cell as well as the Publick House Provisions, decided to revamp and go in a whole different direction with his former restaurant the Roadhouse.
David suffered set back after set back when it came to the Roadhouse. There was no luck for that place at all. From the bad chef who opened the restaurant (admittedly that was David's mistake), to the typical Brookline residents who couldn't be bothered to go to the planning meetings when David planned on installing a 4600 pound smoker, only to have the same residents complain and have it shut down 6 months later because was spring time. Who cares that it had been going for 6 months and that they ignored the planning meetings. It's spring time and they wanted their windows open.
Then there was the issue of the smoker being set up with a Jewish Center for Asthmatics right behind his pork-filled, smoke monster (true story). Next it was the Boston Globe writing an unethical review of the Roadhouse highlighting the good food from the new chef but making no mention of phasing out the old chefs bad food and writing about it without any mention of the change over. A terrible review without telling the whole truth or painting an accurate picture. Kind of like the typical Yelp review. And lastly being forced to change his menu due to a lack of a smoker from Texas-Style BBQ to a Tex-Mex style menu. I think the fans were as exhausted as Mr. Ciccolo was.
Finally David has come up with a realistic change to his restaurant. A concept that I think hits all the right marks at the right time. American Craft featuring only American craft beer, wines, and spirits. The menu has been kicked up 20 notches and simplified. The restaurant itself has been tweaked to feel worlds more comfortable.
My husband Todd, wrote a good write up from his point of view for a BeerAdvocate review. You can read that here.
I mostly wanted to highlight some of the food we had last night. It was so good. The duck hash was awesome, and not pictured, was the buffalo mozzarella cheese bites in marinara sauce. Delicious! The Stout Braised short rib was massive and so soft and tender. The potatoes were soft and creamy. I usually don't like mashed potatoes at all, but these were great.
Pulled Duck Hash: duck confit, root vegetables, and Yukon potatoes.
Burger: On a Challah roll with bacon, fried egg, spinach, and cheddar with hand-cut fries.
Stout Braised Short Rib: short rib with wilted spinach and whipped potatoes.
The beer selection is good. Let's face it, whether you liked the food at the Roadhouse or not, finding good beer in one of David's places has never been an issue. Now there is good wine too.
As many bumps in the road as there have been for David in finally getting this restaurant situated, I think it's finally safe to say that he has found his niche. This is the right concept at the right time.
I don't expect to see glowing reviews on Yelp with all the back and forth changes the Roadhouse has been through. I don't expect much out of Yelp in general. Or those who are on average hard to please. But you should see it for yourselves. American Craft is a much more comfortable place to hang out at, much more laid back atmosphere, and the food has kicked up, simplified, and fantastic. I liked it and frankly I am all that matters around here. It is my blog after all.
Thanks to my friend Caitlin, for allowing me to borrow her camera for these pics.