a replacement for original-Craigie's atmosphere
The original Craigie was _quiet_ and _personal_ and gave _privacy_. Each room held few enough customers that waitstaff attended individuals, rather than tables. I loved that: not just "the four-top in the corner wants more bread," but "the short woman at the four-top in the corner wants one more piece of cornbread."
I also loved that there were few enough people in the room that if I tried (I didn't), I could've followed each individual voice. No "buzz of the crowd" here.
The space gave me privacy (meaning discreet, not exclusive). No passers-by in the window, no scenesters, no "vibe," and nobody eavesdropping on the minor celebrity at the next table.
Where do I find that now without sacrificing the food? Bonus points for Som'l/Cambridge/Arlington/Medford and a similar price point.
O Ya almost fits this bill (it's small and personal), but the open room with high ceiling feels less private.
Uni almost fits too, but the tables are so darn close together.
Maybe Salts? I've never been.
Certain tables at The Blue Room almost do it for me (the dark room with individually-lit tables helps separate you from others), but the tables are so close together.
Not IMO. The space is loud, and sometimes a cramped zoo since Ten Tables took over. Completely different atmosphere than the old Craigie on our 2 visits.
Unfortunately the restaurant and space just worked perfectly together at the old Craigie space in a way that is not easily achieved. IMO both were better in their past form, when together.
Locke Ober fits some parts of that vibe on certain nights. Hamersley's is a very cozy space with personalized service.
All great ideas above. I think TW Foods might fit exactly what you describe. Maybe the Red House in Harvard Square (not quite the same caliber of food as those places suggested above).
I think that T.W. Food is just what you're looking for. It's in Cambridge, but in a more residential neighborhood. I've been there a few times and always had excellent food and service, with a personal touch and the dining room feels private.
Salts is another consideration. It's just down the street from the new Craigie location.
377A Walden St, Cambridge, MA 02138
T.W. Food is intimate, and feels private, but the tables are a bit close together. Personally, I like it. I have not eaten at the Ten Tables on Craigie, but my wife has and she's liked the atmosphere as much as (or more than) Craigie on Craigie. I second the suggestion above of Rialto. Post-renovation it offers booth-like seating with a feeling of privacy.
Of course, we're talking Cambridge so you can't be gauranteed that you won't encounter minor celebrities at any of these places and perhaps gawkers. It's not possible to throw an olive pit around here without hitting a Nobel prize winner, or a small scale politician, or a supreme court justice, or John Malkovich.
5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138
head out to Newton and give Lumiere or Kouzina a try. They have a small, personal feel and very good food (Lumiere is a little closer to Craigie though leans a little more toward traditional french). In Cambridge, I would agree with Red House and I'd add Rendezvous and Hungry Mother as relatively accessible (though I'm not a huge fan of the space at Rendezvous). None are quite on a par with Craigie Street but all three are good, personal, and accessible. While I often love the food at Oleana I have never liked the space (not since it was funky Daddy'Os). I have found most of the newer spaces far too much about the "scene" even when I have liked the food (put Bergamot and Rocca in this category).
Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA
1293 Washington St., West Newton, MA 02465
134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139
The Red House Restaurant
98 Winthrop Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
1649 Beacon St, Waban, MA 02468