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Dec 10, 2008 12:21 PM

Craigie or Clio for New Years Eve

My husband and I are coming into Boston for New Years Eve and I'm trying to decide which of these restaurants to dine in. I know they are very different in style and it's totally opinion which would be "better" but I'd love to hear your input. Craigie has a 5 course tasting for $115 per person and Clio has 5 courses for $125. I don't eat sugar and Craigie offered to substitute a cheese course for me for the dessert course and Clio offered to make me a fruit based sugar free dessert.

If it were you, which would you choose and why?

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  1. I don't know how Clio is on New Year's Eve, but Craigie's New Year's Eve meals are consistently superb. This will be our fifth year in a row there.

    3 Replies
    1. re: dfan

      I'd love some details dfan. And do people dress up to go to Craigie on New Yeasr Eve?

      1. re: plafield

        Usually they have a menu up on their website for special occasions, so hopefully there will be one soon.

        It's basically a tasting menu, 5 courses for the earlier seating and 7 courses + champagne for the later one (which runs through midnight), with many of the courses having 2 or 3 options. Optional wine pairings, which we always go for - they're always very interesting and usually one or two totally blow our mind.

        We dress up for the occasion and feel right at home, but it's not stuffy and some people will just be in sweaters and slacks or such.

        It's expensive ($110 and $150 for the two seatings) but we never feel swindled - it really does seem to be a special occasion for them and they go all out.

      2. re: dfan

        I want to know if you were coming to Boston would you eat at Clios of KO PRIME.

      3. I've never been to either for NYE, but for what it's worth, I would pick Craigie. The new space is so warm and inviting. Unless of course, what you want is the more formal setting. I also prefer the food at Craigie, never having been as big a fan of Clio as so many people on this board are.

        1. Hmm. Those are both bound to be good, within the usual New Year's Eve caveats that you're getting somewhat swindled. You can always overdress anywhere on NYE and no one will care. Seems like a classic Boston vs. Cambridge set of trade-offs.

          Clio is more precious, formal, modern, presentation-focused, and Japanese/New French fusion-y. Cragie is more rustic, informal, traditional bistro French (though at a very high level of quality and technique with a locavore focus). Give Clio the edge if you want swish atmosphere and more high-touch service, Craigie if terrific cocktails are important.

          But my choice would be driven by my preference for the food. I haven't had dinner at Clio in a while (it got so scary-pricey over time), and had one amazing meal at the new Craigie recently. I'm guessing you're less likely to go home hungry from Craigie: its food is richer and heartier, as a rule. Example: typical Clio app: two tiny pieces of uni and lobster tail meat with two pearls of parsnip, one shallot, and a curl of candied lemon, served in an antique perfume box ($16). Craigie: two giant fried smelts (to be eaten whole) on a pile of puy lentils flavored with duck fat ($9). I admire both chefs' food, but they are night and day.

          2 Replies
          1. re: MC Slim JB

            I took a quick look but haven't found New Year's Eve listings in general yet (on Open Table anyway). Am I blind? Looking for something less than $125.

          2. I would definitely pick Craigie over Clio any day of the week. At Craigie, you'll get beautiful, thoughtful and delicious food, and the chef will do all that he can to accommodate your needs. At Clio, you'll just get beautiful food...

            I also will say that in my experience at Clio, service was sub-par. Our server was flighty, forgetful and seemed to only care about our table when it was time to present us with the bill. At Craigie, our server was charming, answered questions, asked questions of the chef and made sure we had everything we needed.

            1. I would go to Craigie on Main.
              I think they care more about the food and cooking and the experience; relative to Clio that seems more focused on the look of things.
              That said, you will have a memorable experience either place. Speaking for myself, I would love to read a trip report!

              10 Replies
              1. re: bgavin

                OK! Decision made!Thanks everyone for your input. Craigie on Main it is. I'll report back next year!

                1. re: plafield

                  i had the tasting at Craigie on Main recently, although i thought it started out very strong with the 3 seafood carpaccios and sea trout sous vide, it seemed to lose steam afterwards (spicy kama a bit dry, potage w/ sausage, mushroom cockscomb fricassee w/ poached egg, lamb loin/belly, all tasty but not so delightful that i would go out of my way to order them again), desserts somewhat ordinary. Comfortable but not as brilliant as one might hope for a tasting menu from such a great chef. Hope you enjoy, either way. PS they were out of the smelts, sadly.

                  1. re: barleywino

                    We did go to Craigie for New Years Eve and had the 5 course tasting menu. Overall it was a lovely experience and the food was outstanding. I have a few small gripes though, all about value. One being the $20 supplement we paid to add Tennessee Black Perigord truffles to one of our main dishes. While there was quite a generous shaving atop the duck, the truffles were really not very good. They were barely aromatic at all and definitely did not have the intense flavor a good truffle should have. Perhaps we should have known that truffles from Tennesee wouldn't hold a candle to the real truffles we've eaten in France and Italy but these were certainly not worth an ectra $20.

                    Another gripe was the supplement they charged to serve me cheese instead of dessert. I don't eat sugar so had asked when I made the reservation if they could substitute cheese since they do offer a cheese plate on their regular menu. They said they might need to charge a small supplement but thought it would be no problem. We were pretty surprised when the bill came to find they charged a $10 supplement for cheese. To me this implies that the desserts they offered on the tasting menu cost them nothing since on their regular menu they charge $10 for desserts and $9 for cheese. You'd think it would be an even swap but I understood that they might want to charge a little something for the inconvenience of prepping one plate of cheese (so much work to cut 3 small pieces of cheese?) but ten bucks? Oh well. I did enjoy the cheese.

                    The amuses were a delicious taste of pig 4 ways including house cured lardon, pig jowls rolled in panko and deep fried, house made head cheese, and pork skin cracklings. Delicious.

                    First course was oysters with candied lemon mignonette (hubby had) and I had smoked cod and bacon stuffed potato with salmon roe and horseradish. This was a stellar dish with the smooth smokiness of the purred potato and cod contrasted with the brininess and snap of the roe all inside the crispy potato skin.

                    For the next course we both had the coquillage of scallop, sea urchin, clam, mussek, sepia, octopus and shrimp and almond serrano ham broth. Very fresh and very tasty.

                    Mains were Duck 3 ways (roasted breast, neck farci, and confit with black trumpet mushrooms, caramelized endive and orange and the extra, not great truffles) and veal 2 ways (slow roasted short rib and twice cooked sweetbreads with chestnut spaetzle piopini mushrooms and barolo chinato. Both of these dishes were outstanding.

                    Dessert was a choice of poached pear with prune-Armagnac ice cream or mocha mille feuille. My husband chose the mille feuille and said it was delcious. As I said earlier, I had a lovely cheese plate with 3 excellent cheeses, one goat, one sheep and one cow, 2 from Vermont and one from France served with fig and apple slices and fresh french bread. Very nice.

                    My husband did the wine pairing and enjoyed all the organic wines offered but again I'm not so sure about the value. The cost of the wine paring was $55 but the pours were really only 1/2 glasses with each course plus an aperitif sized champagne cocktail with the amuse. That's about $13 bucks per 1/2 glass of wine. I guess it's Ne Years Eve so they can get away with it. We had a bottle of sparkling water and we finished with coffee. Total bill with tip: $400.

                    All in all it was a lovely evening. The service was excellent, friendly and extremely professional with an army of folks making sure everyone had exactly what they needed. The food was superb and it was a very special night out.

                    1. re: plafield

                      I would agree that the wine paring seemend overpriced and the fact that they charged you cheese vs the standard dessert was "poor form" on their part. I never pay the up charge for truffles unless it is white truffle season. I'm glad that you have a great night and that it is the total experience that counts. Happy New Year!!

                      1. re: plafield

                        I think you're being a tad unfair about the $10 cheese plate upcharge. They told you in advance that your dietary requirement could be accommodated but that there might be a small charge. To me, $10 is a very reasonable "small charge" for a NYE prix fixe that was advertised at $110 pp. As I'm sure you know, cheese (certainly any decent cheese that Craigie is going to serve on a cheese plate) is far more expensive than cranking out a tart or trifle or whatever was on the dessert menu. That's less than 10% which in my book is nominal.I would guess the $10 was simply for food costs, not for the plating or service. On the other hand, I would agree that paying $20 for a shaving of truffles sounds like a colossal waste of money.

                        1. re: misscucina

                          It is never the $ (or the % relationship), from my perspective but the principle. It was not that she got an extra course, but rather "a substitution". I cannot comment (nor do I think many people could with any knowledge) on the incremental cost difference of cheese vs cranking out a tart or trifle.

                        2. re: plafield

                          Plafield, you summed up the dinner perfectly. MR and I also had the 5 course NYE dinner at Craigie and I think we were sitting right next too you. (I piped in on your comment on the delicious prawn head!)

                          We had a great time and it felt very festive in the restaurant. I even made reservations to eat in the bar area on my birthday. For my birthday we probably won't get a tasting menu. If you do them too often I think it becomes less special.

                          Indeed it was a pricey meal. The food was excellent. The service was good but I did not think it was excellent. Personally, I would rather have one attentive and knowledgeable waiter as opposed to the "team" that Craigie provides. I got the wine pairing too and twice I had to speak up about it. When my duck arrived, no wine in sight. Then when one waiter did bring the wine it was the wrong one. I wonder if it was more relaxed in the second seating when they didn't have to worry about turning the tables.

                          1. re: heypielady

                            Heypielady, yup that was us right next to you guys. Hard to believe so many people would leave that delicious crunchy prawn head in the dish!

                            As for the wine service, yes they had some issues. They brought the wrong wine to my husband for the second course (a nice red to go with shellfish?) but quickly replaced it. They also brought his glass of Barolo at least 5 minutes before his veal came out and were nice enough to come and top it up when the food came with an apology for the timing. That's a timing issue that worked in our favor!

                            We were there during the table turn. It was gradual and there were still a couple of empty table when we left at 10:10. We did not feel rushed at all and lingered over our coffee which we ordered after dessert. I wonder if they had cancellations due to the weather or if they just didn't book completely up for the later seating.

                            1. re: plafield

                              We were at the second seating and we saw one (but just one) empty table.

                              After people chose Craigie based partially on my recommendation in this thread, I have to admit that we were slightly disappointed this year. The food itself only actually let us down twice - the oysters were aggressively lemon/bitter in a way that made us think "that was an interesting but failed experiment" rather than "that redefined what an oyster can be!", and the short rib half of the veal dish was not so interesting (fatty meat can either be transcendent or just feel like fatty meat, and this tended towards the latter) although the sweetbreads were about my favorite thing of the evening. But we didn't feel as blown away as we have been on previous occasions.

                              One thing in particular that we missed was a detailed presentation of the wines. In the past we've often gotten a little spiel about each wine that helped set the stage for it - this time each wine was announced by name but that was it. We would have appreciated slightly bigger pours too; I felt like I had to pace myself with tiny sips, which prevented me from getting a full impression of the wine (I don't really remember how it compared to previous years, though). This may have been due to the increased number of tables.

                              I'm sure that if it had been our first New Year's Eve there we would have been more than satisfied, but it felt like overall it fell a little short compared to previous years.

                              I agree that the prawn head was delicious!

                              1. re: dfan

                                I agree about the lack of fanfare with the wine. There was no information given and sometimes we were not even told what the wine was. We had to keep referring back to the menu to see what was being served and we definitely would have liked some more information about the wines. I think the number of tables was definitely a factor here. The wine was brought to the table by a number of different servers and, as said earlier, not always the right wine or the right timing.

                                As for those oysters, we actually really enjoyed that bitter lemon taste but it was not a redefinition of what an oyster would be.

                                But all in all, even though it wasn't as AMAZING as one always hopes, we didn't regret our choice of restaurant and really enjoyed our evening, WE're already planning to take our daughter and her partner there for dinner the next time we're in time but we'll make a reservation for the bar area to have the largest food choice possible.