Monday, August 24, 2009

Craigie On Main : Cambridge

Craigie on Main, formerly Craigie Street Bistro, is generally one of the first few restaurants in the moderate- high pricepoint to be recommended in the Boston area.

My gf had had a summer internship in the Boston area, which was ending in a few days, so we made a reservation at this much discussed restaurant in Cambridge.

Actually, before making the reservation, we tried to stop by on a weekday night sans reservation and were told that they're usually fully booked on weekday nights and that we should grab a reservation next time.

Wha, really?

(Perhaps someone can enlighten me, as I don't frequently dine at such places on weekday nights [or in general], but I thought that weekday nights would be less popular and when you wouldn't need reservations for most places.)

Anyhow, they were nice enough to comp us with a couple of complimentary cocktail coupons, which we used on our actual visit.

1771 - Rejuvenating Kin, cardamom, rhubarb, grapefruit lime - To be fair, I'm not really much of a cocktail person (preferring wine, scotch & beer), but this was all the things I dislike in an alcoholic drink: floral (!), dainty, and light.

Northern Lights - Crisp, Smoked Elderflower and Douglas Fir, St. Germain, Scotch, citrus, Bittermens Tiki - Yeah, I really wasn't a fan of this either. An herbal mix is how I'd describe it.

Cod cheeks - Cheeks in tempura - This appetizer was laughingly, but somewhat aptly described by my gf as sophisticated fish sticks.  But it was elevated by the accompanying sauce, including lentils and a sweet sauce with lemon & coriander.  Light and fresh.

Organic Flat Iron Steak à la Poêle - bone marrow, smoked beef tongue, shiitake mushrooms, Camargue red rice, walnut-foie gras purée - Nice texture, flavored well, parts having a pretty smoky texture, one piece even tasting like the fatty, oily Chinese sausage, though the pieces were not oily at all.  Almond puree balancing out flavors.

Bone Marrow - The steak came with an optional bone marrow, which could be scooped out onto toast.  Shrug, while nice, this really didn't catch my attention.

Organic Chicken two ways - schmaltz-braised vegetables, aged balsamic vinegar, bagna cauda - I don't know which, but one way was delish, with an absolutely fantastic juicy texture and a preserved/salted taste.  The other way was also quite good, although the texture was not quite as astounding as other.  The accompanying radishes and artichoke hearts continued in the same overly light, floral, and safe manner of the cocktails, which I for some reason associate with William Sonoma.

All in all, this was not as great as Tinto, Le Bec Fin and some of the other heavies in Philly were.  The cooking technique was not the problem, the dishes being quite impeccably executed.  It was just the inoffensive, light-handed, floral, herbal William Sonoma-esque flavoring of the cocktails and vegetables in the chicken entree, that killed it for me.  Especially with such pride in using local ingredients, why not just serve ingredients relatively naked, instead of adding 15 different herbs to make it taste like floral bathroom air-freshner?

Craigie on Main
853 Main Street Cambridge, MA 02139 (Map)
617 497-5511
($Boston, $New American)

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