I recently heard Anthony Bourdain say on one of his various travel shows, while plowing down a famous Chicago beef sandwich (I believe it was The Layover), that the last meal of a trip is the most important. It’s the best gauge of how things went. A soggy alcohol sponge of a dipped Chicago beef with hot and sweets, turned out to be a cure for his ails, an obvious hint to the dive bar tour he endured the night before.
For me and James, choosing Craftsman & Wolves as our last meal was the best choice we could have made. In a city full of artists who love to play with food, C & W unequivocally holds the title in my heart in the bakery category.
If you are the type of person who eats with their eyes, you’ll notice how each dish at Craftsman is a study in the play between style and substance. This is a task so many attempt, but find themselves failing miserably. In other words, dropping the spherically shaped object.
I’m not sure if any of the crew at Craftsman were alumni of their legendary neighbor Tartine. But if they used to roll puff pastry at that hallowed boulangerie, it would make sense as both show similar respect and expertise in their respective pastry technique. The result is the only difference. The former being classic to the core and the latter having a lush contemporary aesthetic. Both will alter your mindset of what baked goods can be.
San Francisco is a great city for an architecture tour, and James schooled me on some of the more visually striking structures around town. If you feel a similar admiration for food, art or great design, Craftsman & Wolves brings it all together.
Whether you’re enjoying the super thoughtful take on coq au vin with a perfect disk of puff pastry and baby pickled root vegetables, or a spellbinding savory muffin with a soft egg inside, you’d be hard pressed to find brunchy foods with more flash. The words house made are littered throughout the menu (especially all over the sandwich with ingredients like saucisson sec, cornichon, black mustard butter, baguette) clearly the back of house spends the early morning hours toiling away for you. For you!
I keep going back to how well the food looked, delicately presented in the storefronts glass encapsulated case like a mannequin sporting Prada in front of Neiman Marcus. Food stylists get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to make food look good for the camera, while making it all but inedible. Craftsman’s dessert case is filled with delicious gems, deserving of a permanent installation at the SFMOMA. The spotlight should be on their playful take on childhood classics like the Swiss Cake Roll. Here it’s filled with coffee/lychee creme, or a modernized lemon meringue pie with an eerily marshmallow-like topping.
Alert: After revisiting the online menu, I noticed something called a Cubano poptart. Return trip status: Imminent.