Thursday, December 4, 2008

Two dinners at Craigie on Main

While up in Boston I managed to go twice to Craigie on Main in Central Square for two excellent meals. Craigie on Main used to be the Craigie Street Bistrot and only recently moved to the much bigger space on Main Street. In fact, they had only been open a week when my friend and I went there on Wednesday. We both had the 10 course tasting menu, and I went back by myself on Friday to try eating at the bar. They change their menu every day (not dramatically day to day I think) and so I will just describe the dishes that I remember I really liked.

House-cured Greek Sardines with Banyuls reduction and fennel salad

I love sardines and actually had this both nights. I actually think the tasting menu portion was just right and the regular appetizer portion was too much. A great way to start a meal.

Salad of House-Smoked Sablefish with local beets, potatoes, mizuna, and a dijon-miso vinaigrette

I absolutely love smoked sablefish and am ashamed to say that I only discovered it about a couple of years ago and still haven't tried any from the famed New York Jewish places. This was a wonderful dish with delicate flavors and a great contrast in textures. I'm not a beets fan in general but this really worked.

Tahini-marinated dayboat sea scallop with wellfleet and razor clams, whelks, barley cous cous, green olive puree

A perfectly cooked scallop (one in the tasting, I saw someone order it as a main and had 3 scallops) but what really makes the dish is the bed of clams, whelks, and barley cous cous that it rested on. Great combination of earth and sea that I really enjoyed.

Red Chile and Sesame marinated Kampachi Kama (collar)

This was a double wow dish. Just ridiculously tasty. The description is pretty much self-explanatory.

Fricasee of Country sausage, duck tongue confit, and cocks' combs with farm fresh egg, fresh mushrooms, and celery root puree

What part of that doesn't sound wonderful? I love it when there is an egg dish on a tasting menu and I have yet to be disappointed with one. Everything tasted great separately and was even better when mixed together with the broken egg yolk over it all.

Lamb 3 ways

I had this as an entree when I went to sit at the bar. I can't recall the specifics, but there was meat (either breast or loin), belly, and tongue. Superb. And the pieces weren't precut into small chunks like at some restaurants, and I rarely see lamb belly on a western menu. Makes me have a craving for Chinese style lamb belly (brisket) hot pot.

Other dishes were pretty good in general. When I sat at the bar, there was a guy raving about the burger, and saying that he'd eaten all the fancy-pants burgers in NYC and this was better. I'm not sure about a grass-fed burger, but I do know that I went to Irving Mill a couple of days ago to try their burger and it was indeed as wonderful as all the hype on serious eats and from Bruni.

There is a big open kitchen in the middle of the new restaurant, including a small bar area with 3-4 seats with a frontrow view of the action. To specifically request those seats, you ask to be ringside when making your reservation. It seemed to be a pretty efficient kitchen as the place was getting full, with head chef Tony Maws barking and expediting and a separate guy in charge of wiping the plates as they go out. He did not seem as friendly to me as other chefs I've encountered, but that could have been the pressure from the new venture.

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