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

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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.

    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

    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

            I'll see you there Striper!

            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.

                1. This really is too bad, and a bit shortsighted. I've eaten at Craigie many times, always sit in the bar, and generally order off both the bar menu and main menu (pig tails and 1-2 apps or pig tails and burger). I don't drive there, so I can have my 3-4 cocktails which means my bill is plenty high enough, but it's still not a bright move in my opinion. I think it will drive more people from the restaurant than towards it. This decision doesn't mean I'll be ordering the tasting menu any more often than I do now (every 3-4 trips there), and will bum me out when I'm getting there too late to order a burger.

                  1. Oh good, now you can all join me at Central Kitchen for their incredibly tasty burger. Way to make dining a pretentious experience, Craigie. Keep it classy. By the way, your tasting menu - eh. There are way better ones in the city.

                    -----
                    Central Kitchen
                    567 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: gini

                      gini, is the CK burger available at dinner or just lunch?

                      1. re: bear

                        Both.

                    2. So who will be filling Craigies' shoes for good bar food + great cocktails + good high end food, now that they no longer have the first? Bergamot and Russell House tavern are promising but not quite there yet. Eastern Standard doesn't quite deliver for high end food. 9 Park is too pricey.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: barleywino

                        Good question! I'm a pretty big fan of Bergamot, though the dining room food might not be high end enough. TW Food has great high end food, but no bar. Troquet has a bar, though I've never gone there for anything but wine. How are their cocktails?

                        1. re: gini

                          have never tried the cocktails at Troquet either...but it *is* a cute bar...i don't think they do burgers though (not yet anyway)

                          1. re: barleywino

                            I'm ok with my burger not being served along with high end food. See Gargoyles and Central Kitchen.

                            -----
                            Central Kitchen
                            567 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                            1. re: gini

                              will do! who has better fries between Gargoyles and Central Kitchen?

                        2. re: barleywino

                          I'm a big fan of Rendezvous. They have a great bartender and Monday is Tapas night, so affordable bar snacks and great atmosphere.

                        3. Wow, everyone has their pitchforks out today...

                          I have no great feeling one way or the other, but can't a chef decide that things are slanting a little too casual and want to steer toward a more refined/high end experience, without necessarily invoking a monetary gain as part of the motive?

                          Just saying that the Bistrot - if I recall correctly - never served a burger either. His cuisine has never been terribly casual and I personally thought of the burger as more of an anomaly...

                          Anyway, discuss...

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: Bob Dobalina

                            Don't think we'd be so quick with the pitchforks if the attitude wasn't so thick and deep there from day one. This just adds insult to what has always been a tad too much precious bitchy attitude. Yah thats about right, precious and a tad bitchy has always been the Craigie vibe.

                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              i don't get that vibe at all from Craigie, i've always had excellent service/attitude there. This is actually an interesting question related to opinion polls: suppose a restaurant is "bad" some fraction f of the time, or that some fraction f of the servers displays bad attitude. If we assume that the fraction f of all customers who get bad service their first time don't go back, and that those customers brand the restaurant as "bad" based on their experience, while the remaining fraction (1-f) of customers who got good service return enough times to discover that the service is in fact bad only a fraction f of the time, then the "average" customer perception of the time that the service is bad is actually f*1 + (1-f)*f = (2-f)*f which is an inflated or biased estimate of the true fraction of time that the service is bad. For example, if 1 in 4 servers is actually bad, an opinion poll will find that (2 - 1/4)* 1/4 = 44% of all customers polled will perceive the restaurant to give bad service/attitude. maybe that is what is going on here...

                              1. re: barleywino

                                Brilliant! This is a brilliant way of thinking of public perception of a place in general. You could redefine the variable f as those who had an overall poor impression of COM (inclusive of their opinion of the service and the food, etc.). Basically your formula = sucks for restaurants. However, the key to your formula is the assumption that those who have had a bad experience never return. As well as the assumption that there is such as thing as a real public forum where the numbers that would theoretically be generated by an ideal, perfect poll actually does exist somewhere in reality (e.g, a quantitative, not qualitative version of Chowhound, which does not exist... for good reason).

                                That said, I think your overall point that (1) people who dislike a place the first time they go are less likely to return, (2) even those people who like the place the first time are likely to eventually experience a sub-par meal at some point in the future (since no restaurant is perfect), and (3) that the combination of these two factors is likely to lead to an overall inflated view of the shortcomings of a restaurant is very insightful. On the other hand, people who have really great experiences of a place are more likely to be vocal about it, but on the other other hand, people who have bad experiences of a place are more likely to be vocal about it as well. Who knows what the true perception is? In the end, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, just whether you like it or not, and the only way to find out is to try it.

                                As an aside, I don't mind the "precious" attitude as long as the food is good, the food and drink appear on the table with reasonable cadence, and no one personally insults me or my dining companion.

                                1. re: Mike5966

                                  I suppose if we're including food quality in this discussion, then there is the additional scenario that if the food is unsatisfactory enough to make the customer complain and if the restaurant then "makes things right" by e.g. comping the dish or some similar response, then a negative perception can be "erased" and poll results of customer satisfaction will be biased upwards I.e. instead of f*1+(1-f)*f, we get f*0+(1-f)*f. So if the food comes out of the kitchen say overcooked 1 out of 3 times, but the restaurant "makes things right" on those occasions, then a poll will result in only (1- 1/3)* 1/3 = 22% of customers saying the food is overcooked. (Repeat customers will presumably have figured out what dishes the restaurant does well and adjust their ordering accordingly.) Good reason for the restaurant to be proactive in those situations...

                                  1. re: barleywino

                                    I think both Messrs Black and Scholes are trying to work their way through that equation.

                                    1. re: Alcachofa

                                      I think we've got a U. of Chicago Econ. Department PhD thesis in the offing.

                            2. re: Bob Dobalina

                              Yeah, but the old Craigie did not have bar side of the restaurant. Why have two separate sides? Why not just have the same decor through and through?

                              Craigie did also somewhat recently receive accolades on their burger in the Boston Globe so it seems a little disingenuous to take away that menu so soon after the article. Bait and switch?

                              1. re: heypielady

                                While this does sound a bit like No 9 Park and a few other similar situations, I think BD is right that it could be a bit early to get out the pitchforks. Its possible they will continue to offer the burger off menu and some kind of neighborhood tasting menu (as they have) for people from in the area, but perhaps they feel the burger has taken on a life of its own (sort of like the Chez Henri cubano) and don't want to be known for the almost $20 burger which has spurned other $20 burgers. I could certainly understand that, even though other issues with Cragie makes it not my first choice for higher end dining. It would be disappointing if they didn't offer some more casual dining for their neighbors.

                              2. re: Bob Dobalina

                                There are plenty of high end restaurants that don't offer a 'bar menu', and the whole bar menu thing is very American anyway. So I agree, the chef can do whatever he wants. However, for me, CoM has never been very high end. The food is very good, but the atmosphere, service etc leave much to be desired. I've never had the bar menu, and it's always been on my 'to do' radar, so I'm sad to see it go personally.

                                Are many people especially going for the bar menu, and if they don't now go, will the numbers of those who previously failed to get a reservation who can now get in be enough to justify the change? If it is an economic decision: let's see what happens. The whole thing may be reversed in a couple of months.

                                tb

                                btw (@cdp), although 'Market' offers a burger, Jean-Georges main restaurant in Manhattan doesn't, so I don't think it's an entirely fair comparison.

                                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                  The Bistrot didn't have a bar. Or casual high top tables. It was straight fine dining. Frankly, I would feel strange eating a tasting menu or really any of Maws' high end food at Craigie's bar.

                                  Regarding Jeans-Georges - Market has a bar. Jean-Georges does not. Nougatine is next door, has a bar, and is much more casual. It makes sense to me that Market would serve bar food in its much more casual bar area, but in NYC Nougatine fills that role.

                                  1. re: gini

                                    Jean-Georges and Naugatine are separated by a wall and use the same kitchen. You can order from the Jean Georges menu at Naugatine. These two restaurants work just like Craigie; there is just a wall seperating them.

                                2. Wow. That sucks, especially given how much acclaim they're received for it. I for one was kind of underwhelmed, but I wanted to try it again. I have to agree with others, though, that it does seem to be in keeping with the constant upselling I got whenever I went there.

                                  1. Apparently these rumors are untrue: http://twitter.com/#!/craigieonmain

                                    1. According to their tweets today the bar menu and burger are still there only the format has changed. They also said that Tony Maws will help clear the air on his blog shortly. They also said that they have been running out of the burger lately due to all the press on it. Hope this is all true.

                                      1. Hey guys - just got off the phone with Tony who cleared up a lot of this.

                                        First off, the bar menu. According to him, the only change that's been made is that the items off of the bar menu have been incorporated to the regular menu, with a few of the less popular items (like the mussels and the potato galette) being 86'd except for specials and brunch. The idea here is that there were many people who came to dine at the main restaurant specifically requesting things off the bar menu (like the pig's tails). He decided to allow these people to order whatever they want, so now rather than having the bar menu and regular menu at the bar with just the regular menu in the main restaurant, both menus are available no matter where you sit.

                                        After that, he decided that rather than having two printed menus, he'd just print one longer one with both menu items. All of the old bar staples are still available, and at the same prices.

                                        Except for the burger.

                                        And here's why: After much national coverage over the summer, burger sales went through the roof. He went from selling 20 burgers a night to over 40. Seems good, but the problem is, the beef he was using is sourced from Hardwick beef in Western Mass (same supplier as Dan Barber). It's a small producer of 100% grass-fed beef and he's given a specific allotment. He can't simply call up and ask for more. As such, when demand started getting too large, he resorted to ordering the short rib for the burger from a different supplier but was not as happy with the quality.

                                        Basically, he says, "The burger we were serving was not the Craigie on Main burger that people have come to know," and he didn't feel right doing it. They've subsequently switched back to 100% Hardwick beef, and as it is, they are making as many burgers as their beef allotment will allow, which comes to about 20 per night. He wants to save those burgers for diners who stop in for a bite at the bar, so they are not offered in the main dining room. Consequently, they aren't on the regular menu, but are offered as a nightly verbal special to patrons at the bar.

                                        All in all, that seems like a very legitimate response, and the best one I could have hoped for.

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

                                        20 Replies
                                        1. re: kenjialt

                                          Thank Zeus! And thank you for this important and clarifying post.

                                          1. re: redelephant

                                            Say it isn't so!!!!

                                          2. re: kenjialt

                                            that seems like a perfectly satisifactory explanation, but a supplier can grow more cows if the demand is there. it may take a little time, but beef production should be a temporary obstacle; why does Mr. Maw not work with his supplier to fix it? And yes, why not a Craigie burger joint? Jean Joho and J G Von Gerichten have lower end places in Boston.

                                            1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                              Without knowing the details of Hardwick's situation, it's tough to say, but it's complicated. For example if Maws is particular about what cuts he wants--I suspect he is--the farmers can't raise more cattle just to produce those cuts. Basically, there are only so many short ribs in a cow, and there's a whole lot of less salable meat that needs to be dealt with in order for the whole thing to be profitable. Beyond that, scaling up is not always simple. One has to consider land prices, slaughterhouse infrastructure, and more. Also, the fact that one farmer may only want to tend so many cattle.

                                              1. re: celeriac

                                                i understand that maw might be stuck with the rest of the cow and that this one farmer may feel content with his current income. I just thought of the opportunity for Mr. Maw.

                                              2. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                Being a CSA member at more than one farm that produces livestock, I know that there are many concerns that limit the amount of beef produced. This is especially true of a farm like Hardwick which produces grass fed beef raised in a humane manner. These are not large factory farms, but small farms that the space available to them can be a large factor. The animals need pasture to graze on. (I'll spare you any lectures on animal confinement, disease, antibiotics, etc)
                                                I think the burger that is served at Craigie is among the best I have ever tasted and I respect this chef's decision to keep it that way.

                                              3. re: kenjialt

                                                Ha - this whole thread made me laugh so hard - Thank you all you Boston Chowhounds for your incredible PASSION!!!!

                                                Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

                                                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                  Agreed, Bob - reminded me of econ class!

                                                2. re: kenjialt

                                                  Thanks for the info... regarding the burger, that is a totally legitimate reason to run out. And for sustainably raised beef, I don't think its just a matter of the supplier growing more. That could take a lot more land and other resources etc.

                                                  Anyway, I accept that reasoning.

                                                  1. re: kenjialt

                                                    Damn - I was hoping we'd get to at least 100 replies off this one. Can't you just retract that post as the result of accidental culinary experiments with amanita muscaria?

                                                    1. re: nsenada

                                                      I'll bet we'd reach 100, easily, if someone posted that Tony Maws has sourced "THE BEST YOGURT IN BOSTON"

                                                      1. re: Prav

                                                        The question(s) would be: how much of a mark-up, is it available in the main dining room or just the bar and was the service worthwhile?!

                                                        tb

                                                    2. re: kenjialt

                                                      Thanks for the diligent follow up. Here's the blog post link for folks looking for it: http://www.craigieonmain.com/?cat=8

                                                      1. re: gini

                                                        I've got no dog in this fight since I've never had the burger, but I'm not at all sold on that answer. How is there only 1 acceptable beef supplier in all of Massachusetts or New England for that matter? We're talking about ground beef, folks.

                                                        Sounds like he doesn't want to CoM to be known for the burger so he's limiting the quantity so that it doesn't overshadow the splashier and more expensive offerings. A legitimate reason, but not one that's devoid of financial and marketing concerns. Sounds like even at $18, it's dragging down the check average and I guess this is one way of keeping the burger riffraff to a minimum ; ).

                                                        1. re: misscucina

                                                          Precisely. There have to be other quality beef providers somewhere in the USA that can sell you burger beef at a price point that makes an $18 burger profitable.

                                                          Every restaurant has to struggle to find good suppliers, that is part of the biz.

                                                          It's about weeding out the riffraff and upselling with Hardwick shortages being the marketing rationale.

                                                          I've been to Cragie many times and will probably go many more.

                                                          I like the food.

                                                          I like the general bar scenario. It's a great place for semi-casual business dining.

                                                          I pretty much get attitude from SOMEONE every time I go but bite my lip and focus on what I like.

                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                            Well....in Maw's defense I don't think he's looking for just any "acceptable" beef provider. I think he is happy with the supplier he has....a relatively local, grass-fed, ultimately sustainable and quality product --and yeah, that combination can be hard to find. Perhaps he will keep looking for other options and/or ultimately find a comparable place that has a larger quantity to offer, but 'till then, I believe his response is genuine.

                                                            1. re: twentyoystahs

                                                              Canadian Arctic Char, Vermont Pork, Pennsylvania Lamb, Spanish Octopus, Roasted Swordfish (Atlantic Ocean somewhere north of here??), Florida Frog legs. What no local frogs? When is local considered local?

                                                              1. re: T.Clark

                                                                Thank you!

                                                                1. re: T.Clark

                                                                  Seriously, nothing could have made my point better.

                                                                  It's about the business people, it's about the bottom line. Not happy Western MA cows being in short supply.

                                                        2. re: kenjialt

                                                          kenjialt, thanks for doing some sourcing.

                                                        3. Oy. This thread is enough to put me on an exclusive diet of traditional media.

                                                          1. I don't care about the burger, but I weep for the potato galette. It was like the most awesome hash brown, and yet somehow even better. And a shout out that they are keeping the pig tails -- that makes me happy, because those were fabulous. Yum.

                                                            On sourcing more grass-fed beef though, after reading the Omnivore's Dilemma, the author does suggest that raising grass-fed beef takes a lot of land, if you want to maintain the health of it, so adding more cows may not be as easy as one thinks, if sustainability is what the owner wants to achieve. Couple that with the chef's desire for local ,sustainable cuisine, limiting the amount of product might not be a bad solution. This is the modus operandi of many high-end food providers - I'm not sure why Mr. Maws is getting so much flack for this.

                                                            How often do we see businesses chase the extra dollar and either compromise on their principles or sell out by lowering the quality of their product, and you get everyone up in arms. So there really is no pleasing the crowds is there?

                                                            27 Replies
                                                            1. re: kobuta

                                                              I agree on the potato galette-- maybe they can replace it with poutine or something

                                                              1. re: kobuta

                                                                Tony Maws is a fine chef but does not possess a fountain of good will from many of the CHs. There is the feeling that while the food is good enough; there is a lack of sense of hospitality; that there is upselling and condescension from the staff. I have never felt either though I have my own complaints.

                                                                But I agree; it is better just from a business sense not to sell something than to lower one's standards.

                                                                I need to try the burger and see what all the fuss is about.

                                                                1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                                  Here is at least one Chowhounder (and I know there are many more) who find Craigie on Main and Chef Maws nothing but welcoming, warm, and wonderful.

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

                                                                  1. re: rlove

                                                                    Same here. To each his/her own opinion, but my experiences at Craigie have never been "go for the more expensive stuff!" - subtley or not. Even when I sat at the bar.

                                                                2. re: kobuta

                                                                  Yes, those people that are saying "just get some quality grass-fed meat from where-ever" are totally missing the point of what Tony Maws is doing. Like Jamie Bissonnette, whose quote in this piece kind of makes me want to knock some sense into him, but alas, Jamie is a lot bigger than I, and I'm not much of a fighter:

                                                                  http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/1...

                                                                  1. re: redelephant

                                                                    Strangle who you want.

                                                                    I promise you I could source some additional grass fed beef from somewhere in New England if I set my mind to it.

                                                                    What Tony Maws is doing is running a business and trying to make a profit. If you are enthralled by the marketing-speak so be it.

                                                                    It is way more profitable to sell 9-course tasting or a $35 entree then an $18 burger. Given that the bar seats are often full even when the sit-down resto is not, it's no surprise that he wants to try to raise the average check in those seats. I don't hold it against him, but as a business person myself I know a good old fashioned business decision when I see it.

                                                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                      i am not sure that people who come for the bar menu will happily instead buy the tasting menu. Cragie is not the only game in town.

                                                                      1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                                        COMPLETELY agree.

                                                                        I'm not saying it will work, I'm saying that appears to be the plan.

                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                          Except for the burger, what they're doing (allowing people to order from what used to be the bar-only menu in the regular dining room) seems to be the opposite of that plan.

                                                                          1. re: dfan

                                                                            The overall shift is TOWARDS the pricier stuff, away from the bar food.

                                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                              I for one am glad that they went to a one menu format. I never understood why they really needed two menus to begin with because their didning room isn't all that special. However, their bar area feels more upscale and intimate or at least that's how I feel. Honestly, I've never been able to walk out of either side without dropping at least $225+ for two (20% tip incl.)

                                                                              My biggest pet peeve with the place is that Tony just stands there glaring down customers. He really should walk the floor once and awhile and talk with some of his patrons. Maybe he does this, but I've been there 3 times this past year and he's always been standing there in the kitchen area arms folded and scowling.

                                                                              1. re: Boston Strangler

                                                                                Just to clarify a bit further, I guess the thing that irks me about Craigie is that the general tone is:

                                                                                "Aren't you lucky to be dining here."

                                                                                I find it pretty pervasive across the staff. Polite, attentive, but first and foremost about just how lucky you are too be dining there.

                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                  when you are describing what you've experienced, that's entirely fair game. the fact that I haven't experienced it doesn't mean your experience isn't entirely real. when you expand from your experience to speculating on the motives of the restaurant for this or that change or the profitability of this or that approach, I get ticked 'cause I'm pretty sure you've strayed from reality. I know you're passionate about food and I sure enjoy that about you. and, though I haven't experienced the snootiness you describe at CS, I went through a phase where if any waiter sneered when i passed on the "bottled water" I decided the place had trained its staff to push san pellegrino at a huge profit and i wasn''t going back. i finally settled on just asking for tap water, hold the attitude.

                                                                                  1. re: teezeetoo

                                                                                    Hmmmmm. I hear ya.

                                                                                    As a business person who has spent his whole working life in some aspect of conceiving of, designing, marketing, and selling products, or being an entrepreneur I stick to my guns on the motivation aspect.

                                                                                    Trying to sell expensive things and discourage folks from buying inexpensive stuff is as old as commerce itself. "Would you like the available solar roof on that Toyota Prius?"

                                                                                    When the "product" does the selling for you, then it is done with finesse. When done too blatantly as is often the case at Craigie, it is just crass.

                                                                                    As Boston Strangler has noted above, Maws is not a warm fuzzy guy. In my opinion that attitude is palpable at Craigie. I feel it when I walk in the door.

                                                                                    This thread helped me crystallize my feelings about the place and made me realize that perhaps I need to have my working, after hours discussions over a beer/cocktail, somewhere else. In the end I guess I just don't like the vibe and perhaps never have.

                                                                                  2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                    "Polite, attentive, but first and foremost about just how lucky you are too be dining there."

                                                                                    And then pulling what feels like a 3 card monte on you. Multiple menus brought out and then in the end saying, "oh you can create your own tasting menu." You are lulled in believing that they have your best interests at heart, but your wallet pays the price in the end.

                                                                                    Luckily, I have been able to expense all 3 of my past meals there or else I would've only been there once, maybe. Honestly, I've been lucky with women after bringing them there. They seem to love it for some reason. Maybe the press they've received or the feeling of exclusivity, I dunno. Once I stop batting a 1000 or once work catches on and the free meals are gone, I'll probably lose the love for the place.

                                                                                    1. re: Boston Strangler

                                                                                      MANY LULZ!

                                                                                    2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                      Forget the burger for a sec. I know there was a beef (pun) intended about the bone in skate. Someone thought it was, bloody rare at the bone and posted.

                                                                                      Mr Maws saw thhe need to contact theat the timet CH owner; Jim Leff. Leff did what was posted above. Gist of Maw'smessage was that posters don't know how fish should be prepared. tMaws got best chef of the year from a major pub, but is it appropriate for him to be challenging th knowledge of his customers...who is also knowledgeable. I know all parties involved..accuser and 1 of the officialnamers of best chef.

                                                                                      My conclusion, Maws is a very talented chef with a very thin skin.

                                                                                      I don't see skate on the menu.

                                                                                      Also an inconcistency in Chef Maws use of beef shortribs in the burger....used to be ' it was added flavor"...now it;s unavailibity of other cuts..? which is it?

                                                                                      At the end of the day, it'still just a burger and if you like the food at the restaurant, go there. I never met Tony Maws but there are enough recognized experts that say he's great chef. You could do a lot worse.

                                                                                      1. re: 9lives

                                                                                        Well said, and I completely agree that he is a great chef.

                                                                                        Just not so sure he is honest about what's up with his burger, or that he is a guy I would ever want to share a beer with.

                                                                                        1. re: 9lives

                                                                                          Again, I've only been once, so take what I say in context:

                                                                                          I went to Craigie to celebrate. We did get the tasting menu, which was suggested to us by our waiter, but it did not at all seem that we were pushed towards it. We got a few glasses of wine, but no bottles and never felt that anyone was looking down their noses at us. On the contrary, the service was incredibly personal, sensitive, and utterly without a sense of pretension.

                                                                                          Chef Maws came out to meet us when the last savory course came out. I found him to be obsessed with putting out the best product that he could. I also thought he was amusing and had a dry wit (which I think maybe some people read falsely as arrogance). In the end, it was one of my favorite meals that I've ever had, and I can't wait to go back.

                                                                                          As for the skate not being on the menu, save for a few signature items, the menu changes quite frequently, and the menu on the website seems to at least change with the season.

                                                                                          As to the burger/short rib "inconsistency," do correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe short rib has always been a part of the formula, the substitution due to lack of availability was in using short ribs from another supplier, not in substituting short ribs for another cut of meat.

                                                                                          Say what you will about the attitude at Craigie - everyone is entitled to their own opinion - but I really do believe that Maws cares first and foremost about the quality of the food that he puts out, and I believed him when he said something to the effect of "if all I cared about was making tons of money, I would be slinging out as many of my famous burgers made with whatever meat I could find as it took to meet the demand rather than sell just as many as I could make that met my standards of quality."

                                                                                          1. re: TPistrix

                                                                                            there are not many on this board who do not think that Tony Maws is a fine chef; i think that even includes his loudest critic, Striper.

                                                                                      2. re: Boston Strangler

                                                                                        jean georges has a bar menu (Naugatine) and a regular menu, too. So Craigie has not invented the wheel.

                                                                                        1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                                                          Umm...I think that you mean Nougatine. Jean Georges has 14 restaurants so he can do whatever he wants. What's his motto? A menu for every taste? Damn, if I walk into any one of his places, I expect to be be handed at least 28 menus.

                                                                                          1. re: Boston Strangler

                                                                                            pardon my spelling error; no 2 seems to be the maximum. ditto frontera grille/topolobompo in Chicago.

                                                                                            1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                                                              As an amused outside observer who has never been, my first thought is that, if. COM was just after more $$$, he could raise the price of his burger to, let's say $23 (the $20 glass ceiling having already been broken). Basic supply and demand economics whether you're dealing with food or crack. There is obviously a demand for the burger (we have over 80 replys to this "burger" post) so I would have to go with the chef's response as being honest. As for bar menu, I tended to see the "seperate" menu as being limited during times when the entire kitchen line was not open i.e. between lunch and dinner or late night. I've never been NOT able to eat off the dinner menu at the bar during times when the line was open. IMO, everything on the bar menu shoud be on the regular menu, not necessarily the other way around.

                                                                                              1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                It's also possible that Chef Maws doesn't want to be known for a hamburger.

                                                                                                1. re: T.Clark

                                                                                                  Here here. And fair enough.

                                                                                                  Not withstanding that the profits from other menu items _may_ be more (and one is e.g. more likely to choose wine pairings/ wine with the standard dinner menu than a burger). However, my feeling is that the prime motivation is does this particular chef want his legacy to be 'best burger ever'...I don't think so.

                                                                                                  tb

                                                                            2. re: redelephant

                                                                              Redelephant, what bothers you about that blurb? He's sick of reading menus that list every purveyor and piece of ground the menu item came from. I agree 100% with that statement. It's nice to know the chef cares. However the terroir naming game, like gourmet hamburgers, has become out-of control. I think a lot of ink could be saved if chefs were a bit more restrained in their geography lesson and simply state that every attempt is made to source locally.

                                                                          2. It seems like everything there is to be said on this subject has already been said, and now the conversation is just going in circles, and growing increasingly unfriendly. We're going to lock it now.