190516AMERICANA

Beth Webb, a member of The Gazette’s restaurant review team The Four Dishes, enjoyed this colorful order of branzino during a visit to Crafted Americana in Lake Geneva. The dish featured sea bass in a caper and olive sauce accompanied by purple potatoes and asparagus in a bright red sauce.

LAKE GENEVA

For a minute, I thought I was in Europe.

Walking through the doors of The Ridge (formerly the Geneva Ridge Resort), the spacious entry opens to a cute coffee bar (the Bean + Vine) with the hotel lobby to the right and Crafted Americana, the restaurant, straight ahead. It is one of the many restaurants participating in Lake Geneva’s Restaurant Week starting June 1, so we thought we’d stop in early to get a sneak peek.

Contemporary décor includes stylish seating all around with a fire and ice feature that seems magical. Crafted Americana is decked out for the 21st century with funky music, unique lighting in the massive lounge and high-backed, tufted booths in the main dining room. Overlooking Lake Como, the view from the restaurant’s wall of windows is breathtaking, and it lends a European lake vibe complete with outdoor patios, gas fire pits and a pergola.

Crafted Americana promotes its artisan menu by using locally sourced meats, veggies and fruits whenever possible. There is a nice cocktail and wine list, a handful of draft beers and a wide range of bottled craft brewery beers.

We hit the jackpot when our server told us about the half-priced specials on appetizers, cocktails and bottles of wine until 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. With that in mind, the ordering began.

I went for a Zyrfect martini ($9), named for Zyr Russian vodka with a hint of orange. Helene opted for the “Don’t Patronize Me” ($12)—a drink that might have been more aptly named if Crafted Americana removed “don’t” from the moniker—which featured Patron silver tequila. Slightly sweet, lemon and lime helped balance the flavors and made it a very rejuvenating choice.

We took advantage of the appetizer specials, too, and tried the black bean hummus ($5.50). We love hummus but have never had this variety—prepared with roasted jalapeño, lime and cilantro. It was served with flatbread bites, crisp carrots and celery. Our favorite though, was the order of potstickers ($6), which were stuffed with pork, cilantro and flavorful spices. It was the sweet chili sauce that impressed us most with its fruity hints—maybe apricot, we surmised.

For my main course, I ordered the pan-roasted branzino ($36). The sea bass, delicate and mild, could have been overwhelmed by the salty caper and olive sauce, but it was rounded out perfectly with potatoes and asparagus. The presentation was excellent with purple potatoes and the bright red sauce.

Jennifer was especially hungry and opted for the 8-ounce filet ($39). Garlic thyme-roasted fingerlings and grilled asparagus accompanied her dish. A beautiful filet mignon arrived cooked to absolute perfection. In her opinion, this steak ranked in her top five all time, and with a melt-in-your-mouth texture, you could almost cut it with a fork. It was that tender.

Nikki wanted something spicy, so she ordered chicken Sambal ($26). Chunks of dark-meat chicken were served on skewers over roasted asparagus and ginger tea rice. The grilled chicken had a tangy, spicy/sweet chili glaze that satisfied her craving for heat but was mild enough for everyone to enjoy a taste.

Looking for something a little light, Helene chose the ahi ginger salad ($18). The mixed greens were lovely and fresh with some bright red cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots. Everything looked and tasted ripe and flavorful. The tuna medallions were raw with sesame see-coated edges and tender to the bite. The only issue was the ginger dressing lacked the pungency normally associated with this root, making for a somewhat bland flavoring.

We overindulged and sampled two desserts. The dessert cheeses ($14) with fruit was an attempt to be healthy. We loved the combination of blue cheese and fig slices as well as the cheddar and apple. Blueberries and strawberries added pops of color to the platter.

Bread pudding ($12) doesn’t normally appeal to me, but this was excellent with croissant as the “bread.” Topped with a very large scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with chocolate syrup, it was sweet and compelling.

My favorite part of the night, though, was a special drink called Rise n’ Grind ($10) featuring Knob Creek, a small batch bourbon I highly recommend. Mixed with a splash of espresso liquor and a dash of orange bitters, it was smooth and a nice digestor after all that food.

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The Four Dishes—Nikki Bolka, Helene Ramsdell, Jennifer Spangler and Beth Webb—review regional restaurants for The Gazette.

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