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Front of house issues at Craigie on Main along with meal review (long)

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fooder Aug 21, 2010 11:14 AM

This review is about the last meal I had on my Boston trip: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7227... but I felt I wanted to write a separate post because I wanted to talk about specific topics related to Craigie on Main.

As always, full reviews with pictures are on my blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...

While the food was quite good, the overall experience left much to be desired. We ordered the 10 course "Ultimate Craigie Experience" tasting menu, which costs $115+t/t. I asked about the kampachi kama (yellowtail collar) that I had the last time I came, and our server mentioned that they still do preparations of fish collar, and that he would ask the chef for me. Our server also mentioned that with the entree course to our tasting menu there would be sides, and we had the option of bone marrow or vegetables, so we opted for one of each. One good thing was that water was refilled quickly and often, but bread came with butter and no salt, so we had to ask for some.

Our first course was a trio of chilled seafood preparations. Starting from the left, noodles made with squid with asian flavors, a striped bass tartare marinated with citrus, and smoked arctic char. Our favorite was the squid noodles, which had both great flavor and an amazing, tender texture.

Our second course was a salad of hiramasa sashimi with green tomato-red onion salsa, avocado, lemon-caper vinaigrette, shiso, and fried tempura batter bits. I remember that we enjoyed this and liked the flavors and the crunch added by the batter bits, but remarked that the portion was on the small side.

Next was Australian sea trout cooked a la plancha with clams and tomato. I found the tomato a little too tart for my taste, but the fish was cooked beautifully.

Followed by fried frogs' legs. This was not particularly special, but it was interesting in that they served it whole, so that you could see the webbed feet as well.

Snail ravioli with broccoli puree, squash blossoms, and paprika oil was my favorite dish of the night. I would describe the flavors as earthy and green, and the pasta texture was terrific and worked with the puree.

Pork belly. I don't remember what went with it. I mean, it's delicious, but it's not that hard to make pork belly taste good in my opinion.

At this point, I realized that there was no kama coming and I asked about it. Only at that point did the server tell us that the chef couldn't fit it into the 10 course menu. I find this completely unacceptable. If that were the case, come tell me before we start, and I'll just add it a la carte. It's not a hard thing to do.

Our entree consisted of duck leg confit and a piece of smoked duck breast. I found the smoked duck breast to be extremely flavorful.

For our pre-dessert, we each had a different flavor of sorbet. There was yogurt, raspberry, and blackberry. Refreshing and nice, but nothing special.

There were also 3 different versions of our main desserts. One was a white corn grits brulee with lemon verbena ice cream. Another was a sour milk panna cotta, and finally a sheep's milk cheesecake. Our favorite by far was the sheep's milk cheesecake, which was incredibly light, followed by the panna cotta and the grits.

Our final dessert course was a rhubarb hibiscus mousse with buttermilk foam that came with a pisco punch with herbs. We liked it, but again I didn't find it particularly special.

I also vaguely remember some almond rocher types of chocolate which were very good.

Let's start with the meal in general. While there were certainly some terrific hits on the menu, I found the tasting menu to be expensive. $115 for ten courses, of which three were dessert courses (and not all full ones) and relatively small portions just felt to me completely devoid of value, especially in Boston. I think a better choice would have been if we ordered a bunch of stuff a la carte and ate family style. A pig's head they were sending out looked particularly inviting. For the same price, we would have enjoyed ourselves much more I imagine.

Then there was the front of house issue that was the purpose of this post. Not coming back to me to tell me that the kama wouldn't be in the 10 course menu was just poor. To resolve the situation, they decided to comp the sides. That was nice, except that we didn't even know we were getting charged for the sides! I guess they were "optional" when we heard the word "options". Again, another front of house gaffe. And the last person to come apologize to us was the hostess. In her nice red dress and high heels. Unless her official role is maitre d'/manager, I don't know how I feel about that. I personally feel that none of this is acceptable at a place that charges these prices. There should be a heirarchy of servers, captains, and a manager. The front of house and back of house disconnect felt so egregious that we wondered if the front of house had much say in anything at all.

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Craigie on Main
853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

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  1. c
    cambridgedoctpr RE: fooder Aug 21, 2010 12:05 PM

    i eat regularly at CSB; the cooking is excellent, but the chef does not like to accomodate. The hostess told me hat he owns the place and runs it as he sees fit. the service is fine in my opinion and the wait staff really tries to do a good job. In any case, it is one of the 3 or 4 places in Boston where I eat regularly and feel that i get good value.

    Some of the dishes in a tasting will merely be very good; some times even Homer nods.

    ( I pointed out how Per Se and Jean George were more accommodating which cut no mustard at Craigie.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: cambridgedoctpr
      c
      csammy RE: cambridgedoctpr Aug 21, 2010 01:57 PM

      The Chef runs the show. It's his way or the highway!

    2. c
      carlc RE: fooder Aug 21, 2010 12:15 PM

      I hate to sound like a negative nancy, but it just seems like you had a very good tasting menu (which I might add, 115 really isn't bad at all for a 10-course tasting menu, especially from a place like Craigie IMO), but not hearing about one small thing turned the whole thing into a mess? Also, in my experience, I was under the impression you weren't really supposed to fill up on the tasting menu? Of course the portions are supposed to be small.

      And you thought you would get free sides? Most decent places, at least that i've been to, charge for sides. A few bucks for the bone marrow at craigie never bothered me at all before for sure, it's all worth it..

      I am sorry there was a communication error - it stinks, but does happen, but it just seems like it was a small part of your whole experience, and from the sound of things, the food was all wonderful, and isn't that the point? Also nitpicking that the hostess is too dresses up? I'm sorry.... just seems like you are a little too picky. Just don't really see some of those "problems" as all that bothersome.

      5 Replies
      1. re: carlc
        t
        trueblu RE: carlc Aug 21, 2010 01:30 PM

        Although I agree there is a degree of pedantry at play, not all of the points are invalid. If I'm paying for a 10 course tasting menu, I do expect to be full at the end, not still hungry; and I for one, would assume that I had a choice of sides, if it was not explicitly stated that I had to pay for them.

        However, I agree that the food did look excellent, albeit each dish on the small side. I also am one of those that gets irritated by 3 of a 10 course menu being taken up by desserts, since I prefer savoury to sweet -- but that's a personal preference.

        All in all, it seems like the food was executed well. There was two small communication errors, and if the OP was misled into thinking the sides were free, that is the more serious one. However, getting irritated that there wasn't salted butter with the bread -- a bit much really. Craigie, despite the quality of the food and the prices is NOT an upscale dining venue, and whether there is salted butter is too pedantic. With regards to the hostess' attire: unless she was in a ball-gown, which would have been OTT, who am to dictate the dress code of the staff?

        tb

        1. re: trueblu
          f
          fooder RE: trueblu Aug 21, 2010 07:34 PM

          The concept of a tasting menu, in my opinion, is to offer as much variety as possible for a destination dining experience. I don't expect to go to Per Se frequently, so when I go, I want to experience as much as possible. Craigie just didn't come off as a destination dining experience, which is fine if that's the way the chef wants it. I did not complain about the food, but rather that I would have probably been much happier spending that money and ordering a la carte.

          In Boston, I agree that I would go to Craigie more often than not. However, in a place like NYC, where there are many more restaurants of this caliber, all the little things matter. At many of these places just the amuses, canapes, and mignardises would make two free sides pale in comparison. My point was that (as confirmed by responders to this post) while the food at Craigie is excellent, it does not aspire to be an upscale restaurant of the caliber that I would have expected for the prices.

          My comment on the hostess was not about her attire, but rather that the apology came from the hostess, not the chef/owner or front of house manager (if they have one). My point, again, was that there is a huge disconnect between the front of house and the kitchen, and the front of house clearly has no say in matters (supported by responders' comments about it being the chef's way or the highway).

          1. re: fooder
            h
            hilltowner RE: fooder Aug 21, 2010 09:28 PM

            Of course they have a front of house manager, and it may well have been the hostess. I am the front of house manager where I work, and I hostess, serve, bartend, bus, and sometimes wash dishes.

            1. re: hilltowner
              w
              Wannabfoode RE: hilltowner Aug 23, 2010 09:29 AM

              In small restaurants, you frequently will find the manager working the door. Meredith, the General Manager at Craigie does frequently work the door. So perhaps the only flaw in her apology is that she didn't identify herself as the General Manager when apologizing.

            2. re: fooder
              l
              LeoLioness RE: fooder Aug 22, 2010 08:42 AM

              "My comment on the hostess was not about her attire,"

              Except for the part which was entirely about her attire. Sorry, you lost me with that one too. Also, are you sure she wasn't also the manager?

        2. a
          ac106 RE: fooder Aug 21, 2010 03:08 PM

          Can you explain the hostess "In her nice red dress and high heels" comment? Do you mean she was attractive or were you offended by her in some way?

          1. s
            Scruffy The Cat RE: fooder Aug 21, 2010 08:39 PM

            for whatever it's worth (probably not much), I was at Craigie last week for my wedding anniversary. They couldn't have been more gracious. We did not have the tasting menu but were offered the sides. I never had the impression the sides were free. We did not have the tasting menu but one appetizer (the quatre fois), and an entrée per person, plus dessert. We were definitely not hungry by the end. The service was so pleasant and unassuming, it was a real delight. I think that if someone had not communicated something to me during dinner, it would have been an honest mistake, not some nefarious plan. We've always had extremely thoughtful servers there.

            Perhaps you encountered an oops. There's something to chalking it up to a genuine mistake instead of excoriating them. I'm all about second chances when so much of the dinner went right.

            1. Duppie RE: fooder Aug 21, 2010 09:00 PM

              It would seem to me that other than some very minor "Gaffes",you had quite a fine meal. By your own admission. "there were some terrific hits on the menu" So as I read it you have an issue with some miss communicated sides,your opinion on value for money,a special request and the view that somehow your issues did not warrant a visit from the manager. IMHO.. It didn't......

              1. StriperGuy RE: fooder Aug 21, 2010 09:10 PM

                Fooder, I'm with you.

                I like craigie, but to me it does not really hang together as a top tier world class place, even though the prices are up there. Top tier in Boston, for sure. Truly world class, well.

                I far prefer to graze at the bar then do a sit down meal.

                Also, the front of the house only holds together, sometimes. Generally they don't really handle bumps in the road very well, and after all, top notch service shines on the bumps. Also, depending on the night, the service/vibe drifts into precious "gosh you are lucky to be dining here." Which never sits well with me.

                Per my original suggestion, way better to sit in the bar/cafe, graze, and cherry pick the best items off the menu.

                Heck, if you are ordering the (pricey) ten course tasting, they ought to accommodate a special request AND not charge you for the order of a side or two. That really is just common courtesy at that price point. Charging for a side or two at that point is quite frankly just cheesy.

                Reading the subtext of your post overall, yah Craigie does not really go the extra mile to make you feel like your presence is appreciated, and that they are happy to have you there. Hospitality at it's most basic. Sadly, on the high end in Boston (though not at more homey places) that is fairly common.

                26 Replies
                1. re: StriperGuy
                  m
                  mgcmonkey RE: StriperGuy Aug 22, 2010 12:37 AM

                  The only mistake appears to be forgetting to tell you about the yellowtail collar. They addressed that with comping you the sides. I don't agree with StriperGuy regarding sides or special requests. Menu is clearly defined. They can charge what they want. You shouldn't expect anything extra. It's unreasonable to think sides comes with the tasting menu. Most $45 steaks don't even have sides.

                  I've dined at Craigie on 3 occasions, opting for the prix fixe each time. The food and service has never impressed me. Price to value is relative. I think $115 for 10 courses is fairly reasonable. Its more than double that at Per Se.

                  No salted butter and no manager to apologize to you...really?

                  1. re: mgcmonkey
                    StriperGuy RE: mgcmonkey Aug 22, 2010 02:41 AM

                    World class restaurants OFTEN accommodate requests out of the ordinary without blinking, or often even without charging. I've had it happen too many times to count at places both high end and more homey (but all world class, that took hospitality seriously).

                    1. re: StriperGuy
                      barleywino RE: StriperGuy Aug 22, 2010 04:18 AM

                      In my experience, the number of times that craigie has bent over backwards to honor special requests, comp dishes or offer unsolicited tastes compliments of the chef far outnumbers the number of times they come back and say they cannot accommodate. Service at the bar is particularly exemplary imo. That being said, it does sound like there were a couple server gaffes in this case, and that they made an effort to compensate. Next time go the grazing/a la carte route, and do try the pigs head!

                      1. re: StriperGuy
                        c
                        cambridgedoctpr RE: StriperGuy Aug 22, 2010 07:17 AM

                        what restaurants do you consider world class, Striper? Perhaps that should be gist for another thread?

                        1. re: StriperGuy
                          t
                          trueblu RE: StriperGuy Aug 22, 2010 08:55 AM

                          Couldn't agree with you more. Craigie is not a world class restaurant (or even close), but it does do a world class corned beef hash!

                          The odd great dish does not make a truly great restaurant -- service coupled with the food does.

                          tb

                      2. re: StriperGuy
                        g
                        Gabatta RE: StriperGuy Aug 22, 2010 12:46 PM

                        Your post pretty much sums it up SG.

                        After our last experience in the dining room, we vowed never again and bar only. It is really too long to go into here, but I will briefly say that the waiter was clearly disappointed that our party opted not to do the tasting menu and was critical of people in our party ordering their normal cocktails rather than some of their specialties. It was not our first experience with server being more a Craigie fanboy rather than a professionally informed waiter.

                        Unfortunately FOH now has us shying away from the bar as well. The last time we had a bar reservation, they tried to seat us in the dining room (again not the first time this has happened). I reminded the hostess that we had a bar reservation. She apologized and told us they had overbooked those tables, which was interesting to me as I could see two open 4 tops (and we were right on time for our res). I explained that we much preferred the atmosphere in the bar. After some back and forth they seated us at one of the open bar tables even though we were only a party of 2 that night. Upon being seated in the bar area we were left with only the main dining room menus and had to request the bar menus.

                        You can safely say that Craigie has rarely gone the extra mile to make us feel like our presence is appreciated.

                        1. re: Gabatta
                          s
                          suzysue2 RE: Gabatta Aug 31, 2010 07:51 AM

                          There seems to be a bit of drinking of Kool-Aid among FOH members, I have also noticed this among the staff of the Barbara Lynch Gruppo. While I agree that people should go to a restaurant with an open mind and try to experience what the restaurant has to offer, if someone orders a Stoli Razz and Sprite without a moment's thought, it is the waiter's job to deliver it without judgment regardless of how much he/she thinks a Sazerac will change their life.

                          I also don't know exactly where the attitude comes from. I have dined there on a number of occasions and it has always been 'good', but nothing was ever manged to imprint itself in my memory such that I have desired to return, I usually just end up there cause someone else wants to go or it is convenient.

                          Enthusiasm and knowledge of one's product is great, when it turns the corner to pretentiousness and a condescending attitude, well, that's how to earn a lame tip.

                          1. re: suzysue2
                            t
                            T.Clark RE: suzysue2 Aug 31, 2010 10:08 AM

                            The attitude starts at the top. If you get a chance check out the help wanted ads for CoM, Menton, Clio. They seem to encourage an air of arrogance before a prospective employee steps a foot in the door. They're all successful so it must be working for them but it seems a little uppity to me. Maybe that's what makes them so popular.

                            http://www.bostonchefs.com/restaurant...

                            1. re: T.Clark
                              StriperGuy RE: T.Clark Aug 31, 2010 11:08 AM

                              I honestly think Boston kind of LIKES uppity in their high end restos.

                              1. re: StriperGuy
                                t
                                T.Clark RE: StriperGuy Aug 31, 2010 11:19 AM

                                Could explain my aversion. I got attitude at Toro too but I attributed that to not looking the part.

                              2. re: T.Clark
                                jgg13 RE: T.Clark Aug 31, 2010 11:17 AM

                                If they demand such perfection, perhaps CoM shouldn't have people applying for the server position put "Mixologist" in the subject line when they apply.

                                Just sayin'

                                1. re: jgg13
                                  nsenada RE: jgg13 Aug 31, 2010 11:21 AM

                                  Yes, "Apothecary" or "Tincturologist" (ugh - has "urologist" in it) might be the best retro-artisanal job title.

                                  1. re: nsenada
                                    jgg13 RE: nsenada Aug 31, 2010 11:30 AM

                                    Nice :)

                                    But I was just pointing out that they clearly copy & pasted bits of the job ad from the "mixologist" advert and didn't bother changing it to reflect that they were seeking the "server".

                                    1. re: jgg13
                                      t
                                      T.Clark RE: jgg13 Aug 31, 2010 11:36 AM

                                      Just nit picking but I noticed the assistant GM position is a 4-minute walk from the Central Square T but cooks, waistaff, and bartenders have a 5 minute walk. Heh.

                                      1. re: T.Clark
                                        jgg13 RE: T.Clark Aug 31, 2010 11:38 AM

                                        The GM gets to take the exit in front of the shoe store, all of the servers have to get off at the one by CVS.

                                        1. re: jgg13
                                          c
                                          cambridgedoctpr RE: jgg13 Aug 31, 2010 11:44 AM

                                          i do not like uppity, and i do not get that kind of attitude from servers at Craigie. They are always attentive and sympathetic to the point of view of the customer.

                                          1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                            jgg13 RE: cambridgedoctpr Aug 31, 2010 11:46 AM

                                            Since you're responding directly to me, I'll just note that I don't really have a horse in this race - I've never found the staff there to be particularly uppity/precious/etc.

                                            1. re: jgg13
                                              c
                                              cambridgedoctpr RE: jgg13 Aug 31, 2010 11:48 AM

                                              sorry, you just happened to be at the end of a thread that was open.

                                            2. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                              StriperGuy RE: cambridgedoctpr Aug 31, 2010 11:56 AM

                                              Go to Craigie, sit in either the bar, or the restaurant, and order an Appletini, or maybe a Jack Daniels with Diet Coke, see what happens.

                                              1. re: StriperGuy
                                                c
                                                cambridgedoctpr RE: StriperGuy Aug 31, 2010 12:02 PM

                                                I trust you. The servers do not complain about wine or tap water.

                                                1. re: StriperGuy
                                                  jgg13 RE: StriperGuy Aug 31, 2010 12:05 PM

                                                  My own response about not having uppity service comes with the disclaimer that I"ve never done that :)

                                                  That being said, I've been in the bar area several times where I'm probably one of the least well dressed people in there (sometimes my clothing choices in the morning do not intersect well with the post-work choices of others) and never been made to feel uncomfortable by the staff - which is something I"ve heard several people complain about on here.

                                                  1. re: jgg13
                                                    StriperGuy RE: jgg13 Aug 31, 2010 12:31 PM

                                                    This is CAMBRIDGE clothing is not going to be much of an issue.

                                                  2. re: StriperGuy
                                                    k
                                                    kimfair1 RE: StriperGuy Aug 31, 2010 12:38 PM

                                                    Is that really any different than going into The Publick House and ordering a Bud? Shouldn't you have a conception of where you are, and what types of things that bar/restaurant serves? While I have never done that at Craigie (mainly because their cocktails are stupendous), I can see them trying to steer you towards something a bit more sophisticated, but ultimately I think they'd make it for you, if begrudgingly. Perhaps because I've been in there enough times for at least the bartenders to recognize me, I've never experienced the uppity service many others have claimed to receive, though it is definitely more stuffy in the dinig room.

                                                    -----
                                                    Publick House
                                                    1648 Beacon St, Brookline, MA

                                                    1. re: kimfair1
                                                      jgg13 RE: kimfair1 Aug 31, 2010 12:48 PM

                                                      Good that you bring up TPH because I *have* seen ubersnotty attitude given to people who have the misfortune to order a Bud - in fact, that's one of the main reasons I try not to go there. What's the harm in saying, "we don't have that sir, but you might like the lovely cream ale that we have on draught instead" instead of blasting the customer and making them feel like an idiot.

                                                      1. re: jgg13
                                                        Prav RE: jgg13 Aug 31, 2010 01:11 PM

                                                        Yeah, at TPH they seem to take pride in being complete and utter d-bags if you order the wrong thing. I'm not even talking budweiser. This is why I won't go back.

                                                        1. re: jgg13
                                                          StriperGuy RE: jgg13 Aug 31, 2010 01:25 PM

                                                          jgg13 my point precisely.

                                2. f
                                  fooder RE: fooder Aug 22, 2010 07:28 AM

                                  I think Striper put it best with "gosh you are lucky to be dining here." Because that's the vibe I get from most of the defenders, which is quite sad. Of the responses I've read, more than one are in the vein of, "well, sounds like you had a pretty good dinner there, so what are you complaining about?" Yes, the food is what matters. I've had plenty of disappointing meals with perfect service. But that doesn't excuse the service when the meal is good. If the food was extraordinary, perhaps, but it wasn't. These are front of house issues, whether you personally care think I'm just nitpicking or not, that can be so easily corrected with a little effort. But with the big FOH and kitchen disconnect, if the chef doesn't care, it won't get changed.

                                  Some separate points.

                                  The yellowtail collar thing matters because I'm from out of town and that was a dish I had been looking forward to. I don't know when I'll be in Boston again. I could care less about being comped the sides if I'm spending that kind of money anyway. Again, trying to make up for it afterward does not excuse something that could have so easily been avoided. That's the noticeable difference in high end NYC restaurants. They understand that people make reservations month(s) in advance, often are traveling and won't get another chance to dine there for a while so try to make each occasion as perfect as possible. If CoM does not have such aspirations to be destination dining, that is not a bad thing. I will just steer people to O Ya or Clio instead when they visit Boston.

                                  You can't just say "$115 for 10 courses sounds reasonable" without considering the courses themselves. I mean, one of the 10 courses was a single unadorned scoop of sorbet.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: fooder
                                    t
                                    trueblu RE: fooder Aug 22, 2010 09:00 AM

                                    I think there is a difference between 'destination dining' and an upscale establishment. Some of the clam shacks in NE are 'destination dining', but the complete antithesis of upscale. I agree with many of your points, but your comment, e.g. about the salted butter makes me think you did not understand what kind of place Craigie is. The original name of the place: Craigie Street Bistrot alludes to the fact that it does not aspire to be upscale. However, the prices are fairly steep compared with other Boston restaurants, so I can see the potential confusion. I think the prices are fair for the quality of the food, but this is somewhere one goes for the food, not the venue itself.

                                    Re: your special request. I think it was reasonable, and my feeling is that it was a genuine communication slip that led to you not finding out until half-way through your meal.

                                    tb

                                    1. re: trueblu
                                      f
                                      fooder RE: trueblu Aug 22, 2010 09:24 AM

                                      The salt and butter thing is rather a pet peeve of one of my dining companions. I have no real preference either way since I'm not big on salt. However, in many upscale dining establishments in NYC, especially those with a strong French background, they will provide unsalted butter and salt with bread.

                                      By destination dining I meant upscale destination dining. Nathan's on Coney Island is also destination dining but that's not the type that I meant. I had been to CSB back in the old incarnation when I used to live in Boston. The prices were also different then. If it does not aspire to be upscale I have no problems with that, it's just that with the price comparisons you mentioned, I thought to make a point of that.

                                      1. re: trueblu
                                        StriperGuy RE: trueblu Aug 22, 2010 01:44 PM

                                        Bistro is no longer part of the name. It has the pretensions of being THE best resto in Boston and VERY upscale.

                                        To say otherwise is just plain silly. It is in no way shape or form a casual bistro any longer if it ever was.

                                        And with their pretensions (in Boston, this is not NYC and certainly not Per Se) and price point they ought to be able to be able to nail it across the board.

                                        And honestly, they always had FOH issues, service has never really been Craigie's forte.

                                      2. re: fooder
                                        m
                                        mgcmonkey RE: fooder Aug 22, 2010 09:08 AM

                                        I wouldn't consider Craigie world class, but do agree that any respectable restaurant would try to accommodate special requests. In this case, they weren't able to, but it shouldn't have detracted from the experience because you shouldn't be dining anywhere with special requests in mind. If it was that important, call next time to confirm. The issue here is that the waiter forgot to rely the chefs message. One mistake in a otherwise pleasant sounding dining experience. They apparently apologized and comped the sides. I keep reading about a huge disconnect between the kitchen and FOH, but there has been no justification of this. Throw out the salted butter and miscommunication regarding the sides because they're both just silly and have nothing to do with kitchen vs FOH.

                                        So lets call it $115 for 7 courses? Still reasonable imo considering its $230 (excluding the auto gratuity) at Per Se. I shouldn't even be comparing these two restaurants since Per Se is in another league, but I still think Craigie is priced appropriately. Maybe you just didn't like the food and regretted paying for it. If your original post focussed on that, then you'd probably receive some sympathy.

                                        I am actually not a fan of Craigie, but just feel your expectations may be way too high. I am not defending Craigie, but rather the point of not throwing a restaurant or in this case the FOH under the bus for a communication error that they apologized and tried to make up for.

                                        1. re: mgcmonkey
                                          f
                                          fooder RE: mgcmonkey Aug 22, 2010 09:34 AM

                                          I'm not throwing the FOH or the restaurant under the bus. My point was that I did not feel the service was at a level comparable with the food, and that the disconnect was a sense that the FOH didn't have much say in things. That everything came from the chef/owner, which has been supported by other comments.

                                          As I've already mentioned, I also believe Craigie is priced appropriately. From the menu, just not the tasting menu. If you're going to call it "The Ultimate Craigie Experience", I just don't think that I should end up feeling I would have done better ordering off the menu. Per Se is twice the price and many times the value in my opinion. My review from earlier in the year: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6817...

                                          But I had no intention of comparing Craigie to Per Se anyway. So should I be comparing Craigie to The Spotted Pig or The Breslin? High end gastropubs? I feel that's doing Craigie an injustice too.

                                        2. re: fooder
                                          t
                                          triple creme RE: fooder Aug 22, 2010 12:48 PM

                                          "I will just steer people to O Ya or Clio instead when they visit Boston."

                                          Not for $115 you won't.

                                          -----
                                          O Ya
                                          9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                                          1. re: triple creme
                                            barleywino RE: triple creme Aug 22, 2010 04:28 PM

                                            you can do a 9 course at Clio for $105 (the 14 course is $135). 2 people at O Ya can split 10-15 orders of sashimi/sushi for $115 per person, which amounts to a tasting menu.

                                        3. bafonso RE: fooder Aug 22, 2010 04:00 PM

                                          If you're not full with the 10 dish tasting menu, maybe you need to pre-eat somewhere else.

                                          I was more than full by the time I finished the chef's whim on a sunday. I cannot even imagine how I would even be able to taste 10 portions of they were not on the smaller side.

                                          I friend of mine wants to do the pig's head with me. I think we need to order in advance!

                                          I'm not sure where you can go in boston and beat that price for food quality. I've eaten at Clio before (not paying thank god) and the bill was easily over 140$us/person for a simple meal... And honestly, I think I'd be more up for the chef's whim and risk some not as good creations once in a while. Clio was very good, but I would not call it super adventurous..

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: bafonso
                                            barleywino RE: bafonso Aug 26, 2010 05:51 PM

                                            although I enjoy Craigie, their food is childs play compared to Clio. If anything, Clio is better value in terms of creativity, for the same price. For example, for around $17, Clio's razor clam ceviche, or sweet corn soup with powders of chorizo, brown butter and black lime, or heirloom tomato/watermelon salad are Iron Chef caliber dishes. The soft shell crab and lobster uni cassoulet seem to have fallen off a bit, and the foie gras spheres didn't wow me, but the pork belly is still unmatched in terms of depth of caramelization. I think of Craigie as the country cousin of Clio; both are sophisticated and adventurous, but in very different ways.

                                          2. lipoff RE: fooder Aug 22, 2010 05:54 PM

                                            Having once posted on here about what I saw as a service issue with Craigie on Main, and then getting excoriated by some other posters for doing so, I am reluctant to do the same.

                                            Because what counts is how you feel, and obviously they didn't satisfy you, and that's enough. However, I will say that from everything you describe, I would have been more than satisfied.

                                            I had a poor service experience one time at Craigie on Main, but the most recent time I went back (for the tasting menu), the service was truly impeccable. I mean, really world class. And the tasting menu --- even the vegetarian version!!! --- was fantastic. Value is in the eye of the beholder, but I certainly think it's on par for price to taste or price to calories to the other top restaurants in Boston, or probably a slightly better value.

                                            But I do know what you mean about hospitality perhaps not being the key idea at Craigie on Main. Places like that do vaguely annoy me. Momofuku Ssäm Bar in NYC, for instance, consistently delivers outstanding food with bumptious service and an inflexible kitchen for high prices. But I try to go there every time I visit the city, because the food is just so good. (And feeling a little righteous anger every time the simplest special requests are rebuffed has some redeeming quality). I don't think Craigie on Main and Tony Maws rise to anywhere near the David Chang level of fatuousness, but I do see that streak.

                                            Is the food at Craigie among the very best in Boston? Yes, I'd say so. And I think that's very much their ambition. Does it always deliver the flawlessly consistent total high-end restaurant experience that would make me recommend it without reservation for a big night? Not exactly. Maybe I like the food there a little more than you did, but I get the feeling that that's more or less what you're trying to say.

                                            To the poster who complained about the tasting menu at Clio being a "simple meal" though, I don't understand. Sure, Clio's tasting menu is very expensive. And Clio probably has the highest price to calorie ratio of any restaurant in Boston. You don't have to think Clio's tasting menu is a good value, or even enjoyable. But "simple meal"?!? The tasting menu at Clio that I remember is easily the most complex meal you can get in Boston! To be fair, it's also among my most favorites.

                                            -----
                                            Craigie on Main
                                            853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                            1. o
                                              observor RE: fooder Aug 31, 2010 12:58 PM

                                              You figure a tasting menu is a self-contained thing, so if you order a menu, and then they ask you for sides, one would think that the sides are part of the menu you had ordered. If there are "options" that come with the tasting menu, it should be made clear that they are extra, but I would assume if I order a menu and then they ask me about something, that it would be part of the menu. It's quite apparent, though, that many restaurants are pretty much rip-offs, so if you are the type of person to even get a $115 tasting menu, than you just have to take what they hand you, IMO, because you are pretty much signing up for getting screwed, IMO. I also agree with you about the neglect in informing you about the dish, it's just a matter of being conscientous.

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