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Mar 16, 2010 02:32 PM

Review for o ya and Craigie on Main

Back from my trip to Boston and dined at o ya and Craigie on Main for dinner based on recs I got here.

For both places I went with the tasting menu. 17 courses at o ya and 10 at Craigie.

To start both places were amazing. Particularly o ya where they demonstrated a careful attention to the construction of each dish almost as a story with different flavors for the beginning, middle, and end. I would say without hesitation that o ya is in the top tier of food experiences I have had in my life. In New Orleans we have no top tier sushi places and I don't know if I would truly classify o ya as sushi (besides the raw fish) as my brain never suggested a comparison to other sushi just other fine dining. Blows some of the others I have had sushi wise (nobu, etc.) out of the water.

I will not call attention to any particular dish here as I took detailed notes on all I had and wanted to give an overall impression rather than I tasting breakdown. The sake here was great as well and the waitstaff was knowledgeable about the selection and menu.

As to Craigie. A wonderful culinary experience where the chef has shown an in-depth understanding of the patron. An understanding crafted from someone who enjoys eating and flavor exploration. As a dining experience I had a better time here than o ya. The kitchen displays a mastery on the technical level achieved in every dish while the flavors, atmosphere, and waitstaff all speak to an contemporary American approach to comfort food. Almost every dish is served with a spoon as to maximize your ability to get to the sauce or juice at the bottom of the plate. This alone spoke volumes about the man behind the food and his approach. That is not to say the tasting wasn't an amazing demonstration on the break down of flavors and dynamic in its approach (my tasting journeyed from sushi, to pasta, to seafood, to a lamb rib). It was just all presented in a way that comfortable and approachable. Their wine list is also really good and full of gems.

As to negatives, at o ya I had a few dishes that were too heavy on the wasabi and it washed out the other flavors (prob only 2). Also though having a trendy vibe and friendly wait staff it was distinctly unapproachable. I love food and have a pretty good base of knowledge but even I found the sushi side of the menu difficult to break down. I could not take the listed ingredients and create a meaningful sense of what the dish would taste like and if it would be to my liking. I believe here that omakase is the way to go for a first timer and after that would feel like I would be experienced enough to play on my own in this culinary adventure land.

At Craigie I did not like the pasta dish I had in the tasting with a pork component. The fresh pasta was great but the dish overall did not fit in the class of the other dishes. Also the dessert was ho hum and tiny. Also didn't care for the fact that they bring out different desserts for each person but they are too small to share. And it may be ticky-tacky but I like my bread served warm and I know they don't bake their own bread so that makes it more difficult to reheat.

All in all great and I would say that o ya is an essential culinary experience that every foodie must do once and that locals should consider Craigie if in the market for favorite repeat haunt.

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  1. Thanks for the follow-up. Glad you got to go to both of these excellent restaurants.

    1. How would you compare Craigie with August in NOLA? I was in NOLA for 5 days and LOVED the food there. Best lunch I had in my life was at August and best Shrimp in my life was at Mr B's BBQ shrimp.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Torolover

        I would say they are a little different in their approach. I know the Chef at August, John Besh (he is good friends with my brother in law), and will say that the comfort food feeling is an under current in his cooking and not really an element of the feel of his restaurant. John, loves to hunt and fish and cooks more creole family style at home (he has 3 boys). That comes through in his cooking but not in the atmosphere and waitstaff of the restaurant (seems more of a special occasion setting rather than the eclectic comfort of Craigie.) The menu at Craigie is more contemporary American than August and is more diverse. They are both great though and both chefs are masters of seafood (the best thing I have ever eaten was at one of John's places. Pan Seared Scallops with a sweet pea and white truffle foam over a butter herb risotto. Amazing)

        1. re: Maderan

          I live here in Boston and Craigie is my favorite restaurant in town (I love O Ya as well, but have only been able to afford to eat there once so far!). We had an amazing trip to NOLA earlier this year, and the tasting menu at August was one of our highlights. I agree with Maderan that Craigie's menu is more contemporary American than August, but both are truly amazing. I'm pretty sure if I lived in NOLA that August would become as regular a haunt for me as Craigie is here.

          That said, I still have dreams of the BBQ sauce on those shrimp at Mr.B's. Mmmmmmmmm.

          1. re: kimfair1

            The BBQ Shrimp recipe at Mr. B's is posted online. Anyone try it? Does it taste the same?

            1. re: Torolover

              I didn't realize it was available. I may need to try it, although I'm friightened to see how much butter is in the recipe!

      2. I love Craigie too, but have the same small complaints about the dessert and bread. I read somewhere that Tony Maws does not believe in warm bread, and always serves it at room temperature so that you can really taste the bread.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Pia

          I guess I'd feel more strongly about the bread being warm if it was baked in house, but I'm never thinking too much about the bread when I'm eating there. Same for the desserts, they're OK, definitely not the highlight of any meal I've had there. I don't mind the size being small, as I am usually getting the six course blind tasting, and by the time I get to dessert, I wouldn't want anything overwhelmingly large anyway. I do love going in the fall/winter and getting that small glass of the ancho chili hot chocolate. To me that's usually the highlight of the dessert portion of the meal.

          1. re: kimfair1

            Yes, the ancho chili hot chocolate was really good and the highlight of dessert. In my opinion cold bread doesn't add to the taste factor for bread. Their bread at Craigie seemed to be topped with something (don't really remember not sesame but something) that would have added an aromatic quality to the bread experience while helping melt the butter (which wasn't whipped for easy spreading). In New Orleans bread is served hot unless it is a good crusty french bread at a place that isn't upscale. It is minor but just part of the experience.