Reopening tonight after a year-long hiatus is Craft & Commerce, the Little Italy eatery and cocktail bar that CH Projects (Polite Provisions, Soda & Swine) first launched in 2010. The hospitality collective worked with the restaurant's original designer, Paul Basile of BASILE Studio, on the expanded 3,300-square-foot space that includes a dining area and second bar along Kettner Boulevard, a wrap-around patio with built-in fire pit tables, Basile's signature floor-to-ceiling bi-fold windows, and a brick wall with the restaurant's motto 'Demand Less' in 3D relief greets diners.
Design-wise, it's reminiscent of the Craft & Commerce of yore, but bigger and bolder — in the library/hunting den-themed space, books are stacked high on shelves with passages from select tomes written along the walls and booths, and its herd of vintage taxidermy has multiplied; mounted over the main bar is a particularly eye-catching vignette of a lion taking down a hog. And yes, the restaurant's less-flattering reviews are still broadcast in the restrooms.
Open for dinner daily at 5 p.m., with weekend brunch debuting later this month, the restaurant's menu has been thoroughly refreshed by new executive chef Ted Smith, formerly of Market Bar + Restaurant and Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant —peruse the menu and get a deeper look at the food program here.
CH beverage director Anthony Schmidt and team have crafted a new cocktail menu that retains some old favorites, including the light and refreshing Eastern Prospector, beer cocktail Lay Lady Lady, and Mother's Ruin punch bowl, and adds a slew of fresh additions, including the Juanita Applebaum with blanco tequila, green chartreuse, honey, apple and horseradish and Man Hands, which stirs mezcal with amontillado sherry, Gran Classico Biter, Peychauds and lemon. Ever cheeky, CH Projects has chosen to print the cocktail menu on real dollar bills in a move that co-founder Arsalun Tafazoli says is "rife with symbolism.
This Sunday, even more cocktails (of the tiki variety) will be introduced when the much-anticipated False Idol opens up its hidden door within Craft & Commerce.