Craigie on Main, Eastern Standard, Dante
Last weekend, we had dinner at Craigie on Main on it's official opening night (Friday). As I mentioned in a previous thread, we absolutely loved it. In fact, when I saw Chef Maws at the end of the night, based on our one meal here, I told him I thought this is my new favorite restaurant in Boston! Just a wonderful meal. We expected some glitches since Craigie had just opened, but aside from some lags between courses, it was smooth sailing, with excellent service.
We were hoping to say hello to Tom and have a pre-dinner cocktail at the bar, but it was pretty crowded. We did get a friendly "How's Arizona!" from Tom and a wave over the crowd, so I ordered a Hoskins, and we finished our cocktails at our table. I should add that we were promptly seated for our reservations. I liked the warm and inviting atmosphere, and the large open kitchen in the center of the room which, surprisingly, did not seem chaotic at all on this busy night of opening week. We ordered a bottle of white burg, and decided on the tasting menu. Every course was a winner. We started with a delicious locally-caught mackerel pate, and the rest of the courses included grilled octopus, crispy fried smelts, tender pork belly, and flavorful, perfectly cooked rosy-red squab (which E mentioned was the best prep of this dish he has ever had). The desserts didn't disappoint either - two types of panna cotta, and a perfect finish with a cup of rich hot chocolate. We finished with a nightcap at the bar. I asked Tom to suprise me and, of course, he came through wtih a delicious cocktail called the Camino - made with Rittenhouse Rye, vermouth made in-house, two types of bitters, and Mirto, an herby liquor. We never made it to Craigie Street Bistro, but we're already huge fans of Chef Tony Maws and Craigie on Main.
Eastern Standard, one of my favorites, was my choice for a late Sunday brunch with my best girlfriends and their husbands. It was my first time for brunch here, and my challah french toast with bananas and homemade sausage is worth coming back for alone. There were eight of us seated in a round cozy booth and we started with a dozen oysters, calamari, and raclette to share. Everyone enjoyed their meals including some grilled cheeses, crab and lobster salad, croque monsieur, and I especially liked the special of scrambled eggs with jamon that one of my girlfriends ordered.
After lunch we retired to the bar for more quality time. We had a such a good time, that before we knew it was time for dinner. We looked over and the men were at one of the bar tables eating platters of cherrystones, oysters, and king crab. Hey! We went over and helped ourselves, and then ordered the mac and cheese with ham and gruyere, and the mimolette croquettes. I love this bright-orange cheese, and these creamy-crispy croquettes are a new favorite appetizer at Eastern Standard.
Of course, in addition to my friends' wine and Bloody Marys, I had to enjoy some of Eastern Standard's great cocktails. I started with the Heather in Queue - named after one of our very own Chowhounds! - gin, fernet branca, bitters, and flamed with a lemon peel. It was so good, I finished with it at the end of the night also. In between, I stuck to gin-based cocktails and had the Jasmine, an Aviation, a Negroni, a Hoskins, and an Ampersand. Excellent service as always, both at our table and in the bar area. It's the perfect place to relax and catch up with friends on a Sunday afternoon, enjoying well-made cocktails and great food.
We had planned on our last lunch of the trip to be at Neptune with a stop at Salumeria Italiana, but ran out of time. We decided to walk over to Dante (we were staying at the Hotel Marlowe). I've always been a fan of Dante, but had never been for lunch. E had the grilled steak and cheese panini with peppers, and I had the half-portion of the carbonara with tender homemade pasta and chunks of flavorful guanciale. A nice end to our trip to Boston.
Craigie on Main
853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
We had a similarly great experience at Craigie on Saturday. The bar was nearly full a few minutes before 5:30. We arrived when they officially opened, but most of the seats were already taken.
The drinks were absolutely outstanding.
I asked tom for something with pimento dram. I let him choose the base spirit and said "no, thanks" when asked if I wanted citrus. The result was insane and delicious. Tom grabbed the dram, then a bottle of cynar, then some cherry heering. The drink also had cognac and punt e mes, but what really pushed it over the edge was the scotch rinse. I forget the brand, but it was a pretty funky scotch. Served down. Wow.
The food was delicious, too. General consensus of the group was that Craigie has the best burger. Not the best in Boston, simply the Best. It's not on the restaurant menu yet, even though it shows up online.