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a replacement for original-Craigie's atmosphere

enhF94 Nov 7, 2010 05:12 AM

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.

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  1. enhF94 RE: enhF94 Nov 7, 2010 05:22 AM

    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.

    1 Reply
    1. re: enhF94
      cambridgedoctpr RE: enhF94 Nov 7, 2010 05:31 AM

      I second Clio/Uni and would add Rialto. I hit Uni Sunday nights; it is very quiet then.

    2. k
      kimfair1 RE: enhF94 Nov 7, 2010 05:35 AM

      I've yet to try the new Ten Tables at the old Craigie space. Does it fill the OP's wants?

      Ten Tables
      5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

      2 Replies
      1. re: kimfair1
        enhF94 RE: kimfair1 Nov 7, 2010 05:51 AM

        heavens, that's a peachy idea!

        1. re: kimfair1
          Gabatta RE: kimfair1 Nov 7, 2010 12:58 PM

          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.

        2. r
          redelephant RE: enhF94 Nov 7, 2010 07:37 AM

          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).

          1. chefematician RE: enhF94 Nov 7, 2010 08:41 AM

            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.

            T.W. Food
            377A Walden St, Cambridge, MA 02138

            1. f
              FoodDabbler RE: enhF94 Nov 7, 2010 10:01 AM

              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.

              Ten Tables
              5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

              1 Reply
              1. re: FoodDabbler
                teezeetoo RE: FoodDabbler Nov 7, 2010 12:35 PM

                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).

                Hungry Mother
                Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

                Lumiere Restaurant
                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

              2. enhF94 RE: enhF94 Nov 9, 2010 01:53 PM

                Thanks, all, for the suggestions. I'm particularly excited to attempt Ten Tables, Uni at an early hour, and maybe Lumiere.

                I tried both Hungry Mother and TW Food when they were new, and remember feeling claustrophobic in both, which is not usually a problem for me. But I liked the food at both, so perhaps going at 5:30 (I don't mind).

                In similar news, I visited Gran Gusto for the first time yesterday, right when they opened at 4:30. I was the only customer in the place until about 6pm, about the time I was leaving. I'd never been and figured I'd try it because hounds never seem to shut up about it ;), and holy mackerel were they right. If I _ever_ make pasta at home that well, I'll eat my hat. Or not, actually; I'll eat my pasta.

                3 Replies
                1. re: enhF94
                  teezeetoo RE: enhF94 Nov 9, 2010 03:40 PM

                  thanks for reporting back. it's always nice to know what works.

                  1. re: teezeetoo
                    enhF94 RE: teezeetoo Nov 9, 2010 04:34 PM


                    1. re: enhF94
                      heypielady RE: enhF94 Nov 10, 2010 04:10 AM

                      Do try Salts! The food is wonderful there, particularly the tasting menu. The waitstaff is very attentive and the room is relaxing.

                2. p
                  pemma RE: enhF94 Nov 10, 2010 04:39 AM

                  Bistro 5 in West Medford might be worth a shot. The food is good (not as foodie as Craigie), and the space and decor is very nice. There are some intimate nooks, especially in the older part of the restaurant before they expanded.

                  Bistro 5
                  5 Playstead Road, Medford, MA 02155

                  1. enhF94 RE: enhF94 Sep 16, 2011 08:06 AM

                    Some months later - I was looking through old posts for something and realized I can report back on this.

                    Ten Tables - yep, it's the same space, but the waitstaff is less friendly and less personally attentive, despite seeing career waitstaff working there. I wonder if they're getting pushy pressure from the GM or shift manager and the stress leaks through to customers.

                    Gran Gusto, early - still a hit. Though they took the pasta with potatoes and carrots off the menu, they made it for me special one night. The owner is a dear.

                    Rialto, early - big hit with me, although the bar staff seem kinda standoffish and unfriendly. Which is not my experience at all of the dining room staff, Jody, or her cooks.

                    Bistro 5 - I'm so glad pemma suggested this. I've liked Bistro 5 in the past; they get good reviews from folks who go (though agreed, they're not Craigie), and I wonder how they stay in business. I've been twice since this post and got personal service every time. Since I walked in the moment they opened, I was also the only customer in the place both times, which meant quiet and private were a given.

                    Bistro 5
                    5 Playstead Road, Medford, MA 02155

                    Gran Gusto
                    90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

                    Ten Tables
                    5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: enhF94
                      justbeingpolite RE: enhF94 Sep 16, 2011 08:12 AM

                      Late chime in: How about Erbaluce? The downstairs, not-gussied up decor has a similar feel to the original Craigie (some find 'em both a little sterile), I've never felt it crowded or loud, and the service certainly is personal.

                      69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                      1. re: justbeingpolite
                        yarm RE: justbeingpolite Sep 16, 2011 11:25 AM

                        I second the vote for Erbaluce. Although it lacks the part about Craigie where the staff is stressed out over fears of being yelled at again.

                        69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                      2. re: enhF94
                        FoodDabbler RE: enhF94 Sep 17, 2011 10:22 AM

                        I'm in the minority on Gan Gusto (possibly a minority of one, although I think there have been murmurings of dissent here and there from others). I don't think the food there is all that. Apart from the pizza, which I agree is very good, I haven't had anything there (of about 6--8 dishes) that I've really liked, and have had a couple of things that I actively disliked. One was a minestrone soup that was very watery, and another a meat dish that, strewn as it was with strawberries, was very weird. The space, as well, does nothing for me. The ceilings are too high to give you that cozy feeling that the old Craigie, now TT, rooms do.

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