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Any other experiences at Market?

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Hi guys,

I posted about this a while ago --a friend is visiting from out of town and wants to enjoy one a really good meal w/a fun scene. The problem --it's on a Sunday night. He heard about Market opening and expressed interest in going there. I'm not so keen on heading there so soon after the opening --at least wanted to wait until I'd heard a few more reviews. There was a recent thread with a few good experiences ---wondering if anyone else wants to chime in...Trying to make a decision on whether to head there or stick with my original plan on Craigie on Main (which would clearly be my preference, but if the food and scene are good at Market I'd be willing to give it a chance instead.)

Thanks.

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Craigie on Main
853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

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  1. We dined there Wednesday evening . The room was very loud , the service excellent. No complaints there. DH started with the char sashimi that he loved. I started with the rice krispie coated tuna which I remembered from a lunch at Perry St in NYC and would have made a meal of that alone . It had me swooning. We shared the foie gras creme brulee as a mid course which i think is the way to go with this infamous dish as it is so rich but not to be missed. The entrees were striped bass and chicken and the chef had a very heavy hand with the salt in both dishes ( I love salt so this was surprising to me as I didnt finish the entree nor did my Husband) We did mention the saltiness to the MOD ..Asked for a cheese plate for dessert ( off menu) request but were told it would take 30 min as cheeses were in fridge and not at appropriate temp. Sad for us as we declined due to time but good for them to be willing to accomodate and yet refuse to serve prematurely something they weren't comfortable with. The room definitely has the 'Hip" vibe, again can be noisy but I detected no issues what so ever with service and loved the app portion of the menu ( truly JG greatest hits) but might stick to apps at the bar next time...

    1. We went to Market last night. It being prime time on a Friday, it was packed. When we left, there was a line out and around the building to get into the lobby bar.

      I had the foie gras brulé and the lamb chops, my fiancee had the crab fitters and the short ribs. We shared a side of roast cauliflower with pistachios. We started with cocktails and had a bottle of wine. Skipped dessert.

      Decor is stark and modern, with exposed light bulbs and a lot of dark woods. We both liked it. It reminded me of Ame in San Francisco, also in a hotel (the St Regis).

      Service was excellent. There is a lot of staff, and some still seemed to be getting their rhythm, but our waiter was very good: attentive and helpful, but out of the way for most of the night. Our appetizers did come out at the same time as our wine, but I suspect that is a fixable pacing issue and not a lack of pacing altogether. Having cocktails first didn't help the pace.

      Cocktails were surprisingly good. We both ordered off their cocktail menu, going for less sweet and more inventive offerings, and I was surprised to get an enjoyable drink.

      The wine menu is midrange heavy. Just a few bottles under $40, with most in the $40-$80 range and only a couple bottles over $100. It had some good values, particularly with domestic offerings. We enjoyed a Patricia Green "Ana vineyard" Pinot Noir that was marked up less than 2x from its $45 retail price.

      The food was good. Other reviews on this board suggest the crab fitters have a lot of pepper, and they do. But we both loved them. It isn't just black pepper--perhaps also Chinese fermented black beans? The foie gras brulé was good, but rather rich. It is essentially foie gras au torchon, molded into a disc, and served cold on a round piece of toast. A thin sugar coating on top is caramelized. I like capeanne's suggestion of enjoying it as a midcourse plate.

      The appetizers are definitely a "JG greatest hits" as capeanne points out, with lots of classics from Mercer, Perry St (crab fitters are on the menu there now), and his eponymous Michelin 3-star.

      We also enjoyed our main courses. My lamb chops, cooked perfectly to medium rare, demonstrated strong execution. The flavors, sauces, and accoutrements layered really well, showing Georges' knack for refined French preparation with East Asian elements. The short ribs had more fat than I'd like, and it was in big fatty chunks instead of a nice marbling throughout. But the meat was amazingly tender and the sauce delicious. That said, the sauce on the lamb chops, while equally delicious with chile peppers and some sort of tart fruit, was a bit overpowering, detracting from a good piece of lamb that could shine in a simpler presentation.

      The side of cauliflower is not to be missed if you like cauliflower, which we both do. Roasted with lots of olive oil, pistachio nuts, and just salt, it was delicious. The nuts added a great textural contrast to the cauliflower.

      Prices weren't bad. Appetizers were in the $10-$18 range and main courses started in the low $20s. Sides were $6-$8. The "Market Menu", a prix fixe sampling menu, had five courses plus dessert for $58, and included the foie gras, striped bass, and lamb chops--all more expensive offerings.

      Georges has a great grasp of East Asian cooking and the cuisine's ability to layer flavors, so I was a bit dismayed to see a miso cod dish on the menu, circa Nobu 1987. The other fish dishes, on the other hand, sounded wonderful and will likely be what I try on my next visit.

      As we left, fighting the throngs of people trying to get in, we remarked we'd definitely be back. Market is going to be "the" pre-theater destination--I see why Marc Orfaly was looking to move out of the Pigalle space earlier this year.

      My only concern for Market is if they can keep locals coming back. With Georges back in New York, I hope his lieutenant is inventive and creative, pushing constant changes to the menu. I keep going back to Cragie on Main because Tony is there every--and I literally mean every--visit, with a menu that changes not only seasonally, but everyday. If Market can give me those reasons to be back, I will.

      tentyoystahs, I'd stick with your original plan of Craigie on Main, as it is one of my favorite restaurants anywhere, but you can't go wrong with Market, particularly if you are looking for a scene.

      2 Replies
      1. re: rlove

        Thanks for a well-written review!

        1. re: Parsnipity

          Yes, very much appreciated.
          Sounds like Market might be worth a try. I won't go with extremely high expectations. Just wanted to be sure the meal wouldn't be a total bust, and it doesn't sound like it will be. I'll report back too.

      2. I went last night with three friends. We arrived early for drinks in the lobby bar and true to almost any W Hotel I've been to, it was a mob scene. Luckily enough we scored a place to sit which was unfortunately by the fire. That might be cozy on a cold winter evening but it was just downright hot on a 50 degree night. We ordered a bottle of Evolution which is one of my favorite bottles of wine and enjoyed ourselves in the bar.

        Our dinner reservation was for 8PM and when I checked in at the restaurant and told them we were there our table wasn't ready yet. We finally sat down after 9PM which we were not pleased with but I have to say that they absolutely made up for seating us late. They bought us two bottles of wine, an appetizer of that delectable tuna coated with rice crackers and two desserts (I loved their cheesecake). I ordered the steamed shrimp with salad which I loved. Another friend had the foie gras app which I've had at Jean George in NYC and it was delicious (and very rich). I had the parmesan crusted chicken which was a juicy chicken breast but it along with the artichokes it came with were oversalted. Also the cauliflower side was very salty. We didn't have the salt problem with the apps but we did with the mains. And I am also a salt lover so for it to be salty, it really has to be salty.

        The service was great, friendly but professional and they more than made up for our late reservation. We also gave them the feedback on the salt so hopefully since it sounds like it's coming from enough diners, they will correct it. I'll definitely go back and the early experience I had here was night and day to my earlier experiences at Post where I really have no need to go back for awhile.

        2 Replies
        1. re: lissy

          We did end up here last night (sunday 11.15) and i will post a more thorough review soon. Wanted to comment that we also had the issue with salt. One in our party ordered the strip steak, cooked to perfection and really flavorful, but unfortunately quite oversalted. I thought i remembered reading that a few other hounds had a similar issue; our DC let the server know about the heavy hand with the salt....hopefully the chef will realize this is a recurring problem.

          1. re: lissy

            Was there with Lissy on Saturday - she did a great job summarizing our night so I'll not dupe it. Will just add that my bibb lettuce salad was great, loved the mustard vinaigrette (all of which is quite simple so did not expect anything less than great).
            For my main I had the slow cooked salmon with brussel sprouts, pureed potatoes and a truffled sauce. The sauce was divine, sprouts where shredded and just the right amount of crisp tender. Everything though was WAY over salted and I like salt even more than Lissy does.

          2. I just posted a lengthy review on the other Market thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/664074). Overall the tasting menu was a good choice but for a memorable dinner with a friend, I'd prefer Craigie on Main or Ten Tables for their tasting menus and service.

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            Craigie on Main
            853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

            Ten Tables
            5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

            1. Ok...so we did make it to Market last night, and overall, it was a good meal. There were four of us dining..we were seated promptly at 7:30. Sort of an interesting crowd when we got there, definitely an older demographic, certainly not "hip" or "scene-y" at all.....turns out the Opera had recently get out --apparently that crowd skews a bit older. ;)

              The menu looked interesting, the tasting menu for $58 seemed like a great deal, but one DC was a bit disappointed when he realized everyone at the table would have to order it. Why not require just a minimum of two folks at a table? I know it's about pacing, but if others are ok with it, why not allow it?

              The foie gras brulee was certainly interesting, loved that brulee top though to be honest you could serve a crunchy caramel topping on just about anything and i'd love it. ;) We just came back from a trip to Spain where foie gras was everywhere --i thought it was fine at Market but I honestly found it tastier in Spain....not something I'd rush back there to order. First course was the butternut squash soup --I can't put my finger on it, but there was something that wasn't all that appealing about this soup. It was very buttery --not usually a problem for me --but there was another lingering flavor --maybe prepared with beef stock or flavored with some other type of gamy reduction? I'm not sure --but it didn't have the sweetness and clear flavors I usually enjoy with a butternut squash soup. Next course --lobster w/lemon spaetzle. This dish was very simply prepared and the lemony flavors were clean and crisp...unfortunately the lobster was a bit mushy and undercooked. Flavors were good though --if the lobster had been cooked a bit more it would have been a winning dish.
              DC got pork chops --I'm not a big fan in general but she said they were good. Other DC ordered the strip steak --I took a bite and it was absolutely delicious. Cooked perfectly and very flavorful, but unfortunately quite oversalted. At that point we all had our meals and it wasn't a big enough deal to send back, but certainly noticable.

              As far as I'm concerned, desserts were the standouts of the evening. We had the creme fraiche cheesecake with a delicious concord grape sorbet --light and airy and really sublime. Also the apple crisp w/cinnamon ice cream. A perfect combination with really delicious crispy chunks of struesel on top. Excellent.

              Service was just ok. Our server(s) were friendly and attentive --when they were around. We waited a while when first seated for the drink order to be taken --then probably another 15 minutes for the drinks to arrive. We had a couple of folks at the table who enjoy their cocktails --and were certainly ready for more before offers were made to refresh the drinks. Someone front of house did come to check on how we were enjoying our meals about a quarter of the way through --which was nice ---but then we sat with empty plates for a while before they were cleared and dessert orders were taken.

              All in all, I did think the overall experience was good. There were a few missteps --i.e undercooked lobster, oversalted steak, slightly off-flavored butternut squash soup --but they were not enough to color the meal negatively --just enough for me to notice and comment on......and given that they've only been open a couple of weeks, I'm ok with it. Plus I wasn't paying ;)