Yes, the title of this post is 100% true. After a year of their being opened, hubs and I finally made it to Craigie on Main right outside of Kendall Square in Cambridge. I had a meeting with Plummelo.com, where I will be guest blogging twice a month (check out my first post: http://blog.plummelo.com/), and since Craigie was close by and it was Thursday night, we decided to make a reservation. Highly recommended to do so.
Upon arrival at Craigie on Main, we were seated at the most perfect table, all the way in the back corner. Romantic, but also ideal for a shy food blogger who HATES taking photos of food in public. I want to have them; I don’t like feeling like a weirdo, and I am afraid I may get yelled at!
I started the evening with a champagne cocktail, the Tavern Sparkler, which was made of the following:
Medicinal Spiced Elixir
cider, Becherovka, honey, Champagne
Definitely medicinal after a rushed afternoon, and delicious, this drink was the perfect way to start an autumn meal. It tasted of sweet honey and spicy cider and a slight hint of effervescence from the champagne.
My dining companion had a Piraat Amber Tripel IPA which was delicious but not as good as the beer he had later in the evening. Keep reading to find out. . .
The menu at Craigie offers a long list of tempting, local creations.
As you can see Craigie locally sources just about everything from places like Verrill Farm. They make their menu after buying their ingredients, ensuring the freshest food possible. Unable to decide on meals, we opted for a six course tasting menu and the staff at Craigie were very happy to accommodate my no venison, no beef, no lamb, no rabbit request. Apparently all of those proteins were options though, showing the breadth of dishes one can try at Craigie.
Our first course was an amuse bouche of three seafood delights.
The middle dish is a monkfish liver, and the one on the right is crispy brandade de morue with squid ink. I can not remember what the dish on the left was, except completely delicious, I want more of it.
Next up, Hiramasa sashimi with red onion shiso salsa, avocado, and harissa-rose vinaigrette.
I loved this dish. The bite of the onion, the creaminess of the avocado, and the perfect fish was subtly spiced with the harissa vinaigrette. It was light and flavorful.
Then there were the grilled monkfish cheeks.
Grrrr I wish there weren’t shadows on these photos. I’m trying. Maybe someday I will make the Foodbuzz Top 9. The monkfish was meaty with a nice grill flavor. The portion was small but because of the complexity of flavors, could have easily been an entree of its own. I was starting to get full. . .
I think it was at this point that I finished my cocktail and requested a wine pairing. Our outstanding server brought me a glass of 2007 Grüner Veltliner ‘Lois’, a nearly clear Austrian wine with an acidity that went very well with the richness of the seafood. We often think of seafood as lighter, but as the meal progressed, we definitely had some very substantial fish dishes. The wine stood up to them without overcoming their flavors. This wine exemplified the elegance and flavor of the Austrian wine that we tried in Vienna, wine that was beautiful and strong, like many things Austria has to offer. . .
The hubs ordered another beer, a Foret, which was like champagne. No, not like the champagne of beers. Like real champagne, with a beautiful bubbly, yeasty nose.
But there was no time to be full because this came next.
Collar of a fish whose name I can not remember (sorry!) with a salty, messy, sticky miso laced sauce. Our server made sure we had plenty of bread prior to this course, and now I know why. We wanted to mop up every drop of the sauce!
Think we were done after that? Not quite yet. Our next dish was
Ragoût of Local Forest Mushrooms, House-Made Rabbit Sausage, Hakurei Turnips and Romanesco
farm-fresh egg, Macomber turnip purée, herbs
Now, I said no rabbit, but there was sausage, I ate it, and I liked it. The star, however, was the runny poached egg, which the chef recommended we pierce and stir with the rest of the dish.
This may have been my favorite part of the entire meal. A farm fresh egg makes such a huge difference. With the crisp radish, earthy mushrooms, and ooey gooey egg yolk, this dish was both rustic and elegant.
We weren’t done yet.
Our final savory course was grilled pork belly with pomegranate arils and a thick apple sauce. Now, I don’t eat pork, and I think I said that, but our final course was accompanied by the famous Chef Tony Maws, and if Chef Maws brings me pork belly, I will at least try it. As it probably is with many of you, renowned chefs to me are bigger than movie stars. The hubs said my face went all white when the chef came out, and I don’t doubt it. There is something incredibly special about a chef and restaurateur who is still on the line
cooking every night. You could taste the artistry in each course, and when he actually came out to acknowledge that we were there and to introduce the dish, well I was so happy that I got a little teary. Weirdo.
As if all of this savory gorgeousness was not enough, we were then brought two little shots of panna cotta, one with jasmine tea and one with rooibos tea and citrus. Creamy with a hint of flavor, these cleared our palates and prepared us for the real dessert that came next. We paired it with a glass of Maury Mas Amiel which our server kindly split for us. This dessert wine was dark red, nearly brown in color, rich and sweet. Splitting it gave us the perfect tasting.
Our server brought us Olive Oil and Taza Chocolate Mousse and Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Parfait. They were both perfect, but the Taza chocolate mousse and olive oil offered an unbelievably rich and smooth treat. The pumpkin parfait offered exquisite fall flavors. I loved being able to taste the squash flavor of the pumpkin along with a little bit of sweetness. Again, perfect portions and balance of flavors.
Craigie is cozy, fancy but completely and utterly unpretentious, and the service is like being at home with extremely knowledgeable foodie and wine enthusiastic friends. Our dinner was comfortable but really special, not stiff at all but made us feel like we were the guests of honor. It was far better than some meals that we have had at more famous restaurants, and I know we will be back again and again. Maybe we won’t be able to afford six courses each time, but I am certain the bar bites and cocktails offer the same quality, love, and creativity as our meals last night did.
What restaurant do you absolutely drool (or in my case cry) over?