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Nov 23, 2010 07:41 PM

Craigie on Main 86'd the bar menu and the burger?


Hi folks,

I had been talking up the burger at Craigie on Main to a friend of mine for weeks, and so tonight we made reservations at the bar so he could give it a try. When we showed up, I was surprised to discover that Craigie has eliminated its bar menu, and now only offers the more expensive dining room menu even when you sit in the bar. What's worse, the burger is now a "verbal" (whatever that means), which means that you can order it even though it isn't on the menu--BUT they apparently run out of it. Our reservations were at 7:30 at which point they only had one burger left. Parties coming in after us at the bar were surprised to learn that the burger wasn't available.

Anybody have any idea why they're doing this? It seems like a bad idea to me--the burger was one of their most well-known dishes; it had been written up a lot. It seems like they are trying to phase it out and push people towards the more expensive dishes (the burger is $18; other entrees are $25-$30 or more) even when seated in the bar. This seems awfully short-sighted to me. I am a fan of Craigie's dining room menu, and have done a 10-course tasting there. But I'm not always in the mood for that, and the burger was really amazingly good. Sometimes you just want to go for drinks and burgers with friends. Whenever friends were in from out of town I brought them to Craigie for cocktails and burgers. Pretty sad to learn that Craigie is apparently trying to kill the burger. Why on earth would a signature dish be unavailable at 7:30 on Tuesday night unless they don't want people to order it anymore?

Tony Maws and the rest of the Craigie crew: I can understand if you want to make more money. But let's compromise. Charge $22 for the burger rather than taking it off your menu entirely. Please!

Craigie on Main
853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

  1. I'd be sorry if this change were permanent. I frankly prefer the atmosphere and menu in the bar to the dining room. I like that there's a difference between the two. Hard to imagine how this idea moves forward except purely as a business concern.

    1. Sure enough, the bar menu is not longer on Craigie's web site, though the Pig Tails are available on the new 'Sample Seasonal Dinner Menu'. Disappointing, but not surprising. As I described in an earlier post, Craigie has been doing back door things to drive patrons to the more expensive menu and items for awhile now (e.g. trying to seat us in dining room when we had a bar reservation; 'accidentally' leaving only the dining room menu even when in the bar; le sigh when we didn't succumb to the hard sell for the tasting menu in the dining room). At least they are being up front about their tactics and intentions now (not that we were going back anyway).

      Limiting the amount of burgers available? What a clip joint tactic. In my experiences, they never had trouble keeping them available before, so Mr. Maws made a conscious decision to do this for some silly reason (because he can). There are plenty of other comparable burgers to be had in town with way less pretense and attitude.

      On this Thanksgiving Eve, Craigie gets a golden turkey award for this move.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Gabatta

        Ugh this is terrible news and frankly just seems so stupid. Like MC Slim I also prefer the sitting on the bar side of the restaurant (less crowded) and I liked that I can order off both menus there. Because I live in the neighborhood I usually show up without a reservation and I liked having a place where I could go and get a great cocktail, a delicious burger, but also an interested appetizer such as grilled sardines or pate or pig tails. Looks like that won't be happening anymore. It's not like it was a cheap night out either. I was still dropping over $100 for dinner for two.

        God!!! I'm so steamed about this... they can take their ugly dropped ceiling that looks like my parents' basement and shove it! It's never going to be really fancy in there so just give me my god-damned burger! (Deep breathe).... ok, just had to get that out.

        1. re: heypielady

          Yah well it's clear $100 for two does not keep Maws happy. Just jibes with the whole crappy attitude they've always had. FAR more concerned with extracting funds then providing hospitality and having happy patrons. I for one will go across the street to Rendezvous.

            1. re: StriperGuy

              this can't be good for business; hell, you can get a hamburger at Jean-Georges who is a pretty aloof guy.

        2. "Anybody have any idea why they're doing this?"
          seems like you answered your own question:

          "It seems like they are trying to phase it out and push people towards the more expensive dishes (the burger is $18; other entrees are $25-$30 or more) even when seated in the bar."

          1. Maybe there will be a "downscale" spinoff coming.

            3 Replies
            1. re: nsenada

              A Food Truck! "Craigie on ______", depending on the day. Location posted on Twitter.

              1. re: Prav

                If they stuck with the current business model, I'd be curious to see what a tasting menu off a truck would look like.

                1. re: Prav

                  Thanks Prav! You just put a big smile on my face. =)

              2. Having only been to Craigie once back at the old location, I must say I didn't experience any of the attitude while I was there. That said this is an extremely lame move.

                N.B. The burger is still available on the brunch menu.