Craigie on Main

On rare occasion, a restaurant can leave a lasting impression, one that marinates and simmers in memory far after the forks have rested. My inaugural visit to Chef Tony Maws’ Craigie Street Bistrot had left me with the richness and light oils of a beautiful black cod enjoyed in the coziness of his first restaurant- flavorful memories that traveled with me for nearly half a year before I occasioned to visit his newly relocated establishment, Craigie on Main.

Nestled off a side street not far from Central Square, Craigie on Main had a formidable task before it on an icy, rainy night. With four self-proclaimed “foodies” in tow, I finally made it to the new restaurant that had been on my list for months. I found it hard to believe that this shiny new place could enable me to relive the quaint and artisanal meal I had enjoyed at the old Craigie, which was hidden in the garden level of a building near Harvard Yard on a block of sweet Cambridge houses.

Although located in a decidedly different neighborhood, the new Craigie on Main immediately warmed us up with its throwback to homey, farmhouse decor and very friendly staff. Its low lighting, intimate bar space, and combine for a comfortable eating and imbibing ambiance. However, the tour de force of the restaurant’s interior design is the most open kitchen I have seen- stationed in the middle of the restaurant and occupying what feels like half of the floor space, is an entirely open kitchen with all the culinary action in full and unobstructed view. Thanks to Phil Michaelson’s booking of the high-top table “with a view”, we witnessed the creation of serving after serving of carefully crafted dishes, from prep to plating. In all aspects, it is clear that the food is the focal point here- both in Craigie’s structural layout, and its chef’s purpose.

Tony Maws is described as an “idealist with a kitchen”. He abides by the ideology that local, seasonal and sustainably sourced ingredients are intrinsically better, and that these ingredients form the most significant part of what makes great food great. After culinary training took him everyone from Santa Fe to Lyon, France, Tony’s chose his hometown of Boston to build his dream restaurants- one that now pleases the palate of grateful foodies. In Tony’s kitchen, he promises food and wine that is nearly all organic or biodynamic, bought from independent farmers and gardens, and all made from scratch on site- all reflecting the restaurant’s commitment to responsible citizenry and social consciousness.

As I’ve ranted and raved about the background and feel of Craigie, you must be asking, “What did you eat and did it knock your socks off per expectations?” The answer, friends, is yes- not only my socks, but also the respective socks of my connoisseur dining buddies. Although I am tempted to describe in painstaking detail all the wonders in which we indulged, I’ll limited to our collective favorites (a sampling of the 5 different appetizers, 5 entrees, and 3 desserts in which we indulged). The must-haves include foie gras au torchon with persimmon puree and candied pistachios described by Phil as “the decadence [he] we looking for.” Next, an outstanding slow-roasted organic chicken, true to its carefully-sourced breeding and then the real showstopper: the slow-cooked organic Tazmanian Sea Trout. This startlingly-vividly colored fish is complemented by a light almond-sea urchin broth and other complementary tastes of the sea. It is tender as sashimi, and unlike any other fish I’d ever eaten. This dish is reason enough to go to Craigie on Main.

When you visit Craigie on Main, for a special occasion or a thoughtful splurge, consider the prix fixe with paired dessert wine ($75) and available in vegetarian form ($61). Another option- check out the more affordable Bar Menu whose crown jewel is Chef Maws’ masterpiece of a burger. Make sure to ask the staff the story of how the perfect burger was developed. In short, remember Craigie for your next dining luxury- a dining experience rich in neighborhood ambience, fresh culinary creativity and of course, rich and memorable tastes.

Craigie on Main
853 Main Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
617 497-5511

Open Tuesday-Sunday
Dining Room: 5:30-10:00pm
Bar: 5:30pm-1:00am
Bar Food Menu: 5:30 to Midnight
Brunch: Sunday 11:00am-2:00pm

March 2, 2009
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