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Craigie on Main Burger Question

I don't always venture into Cambridge, but when I do, it's for burgers. My birthday dinner is coming up and in my annual birthday burger quest, I want to check off Craigie.

A few questions:

1. Do they still serve the burger? I've read they take it on and off the menu.
2. Do they only serve the burger in the bar?
3. If yes, can you make reservations for 5 or so people at the bar?

TIA. I don't want to get all the way up there and get shut out.

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Craigie on Main
853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

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  1. The burger is only on the dining room menu at brunch (the burger always seems to be on the brunch menu)

    I've never seen it absent from the bar menu but its possible that it's not always on. You can't make reservations for 5 or so at the bar.

    Call them up. If you've got a party of 5 and you are on a burger quest, they might be able to accommodate you in the dining room.

    1 Reply
    1. re: caseyf

      eh okay - sounds like everything that I wrote is wrong. oops.

    2. Tony has commented that due to the rise in popularity of the burger and his limited sourcing of the meat for it, that they took it off the menu and only verbally offer it at the bar and the tables in the bar room when it is available. He recommends showing earlier to have a better chance at it.

      When we were there 2 weeks ago, we did hear the bartender offer the burger to our neighbor when they were handed the menu, so this practice seems to still be in effect.

      They don't take reservations for the bar, but getting a table in the bar area isn't as difficult.

      http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

      1. if you can't get reservations at Craigie, you could try the burger at Lineage which is quite respectable (and their duck fat fries). May be easier to get bar seats there (not to mention parking). Plus they have Vya sweet vermouth (if you're into drinks with sweet vermouth).

        12 Replies
        1. re: barleywino

          Oh that Lineage burger looks to die for.

          1. re: typhoonfish

            The Lineage burger is excellent, though not in the same league as the Craigie burger, IMHO. You can get reservations for the bar area in Craigie, just not at the bar itself. I would go early in the week, get reservations early in the evening for the bar area, and you should be golden.

            1. re: kimfair1

              The burger at Craigie is very good, but I certainly don't consider it 'in a different league' than the burger at Lineage. The lineage burger is well seasoned, flavorful, juicy, generally cooked perfectly MR and hard to put down. What do you think puts Craigie at a different level? I find them equally satisfying. Bonus points for the fries (and lack of mace ketchup) at Lineage.

              1. re: Gabatta

                I've been beating this particular drum for a while but as odd as it sounds the thing that makes the craigie burger is the tomato - when they don't have tomatoes (most of the year) it's missing something. That tomato ties the whole thing together.

                1. re: jgg13

                  It is better when it has the tomato, though I like it fine without. I like the Lineage burger, and you make good points about it Gabbata, I just find the Craigie burger more flavorful, and I prefer the cooking method where you get it MR top to bottom with a thin char added later. I also like the mace ketchup. I also think your general disdain of Craigie as a whole, which I've noticed from your posts colors your opinion of the burger a bit.

                  1. re: kimfair1

                    Again, I like the Craigie burger and am in no way saying it is not very good, so my general disdain of the foochbag culture at Craigie really had nothing to do with my question. I was interested in what a you felt put the Craigie burger some magnitude above the Lineage burger. I appreciate that you think it is generally more flavorful, which makes sense, though I haven't found the same to be true.

                    1. re: Gabatta

                      The Craigie burger is certainly much more fussed over than Lineage, what with the marrow, miso powder and C-vap and all. Whether the fuss is worth it is certainly a matter of opinion. I'm fond of a burger at the bar at Lineage myself, but have been known to grind a thing or two into my own beef at home to try and up the ante, so I can see the attraction.

            2. re: typhoonfish

              Another interesting burger to try is the Pigalle burger w/ panko fried oysters (not sure they have this "surf and turf" version of their burger every day, call to check). This burger is almost too rich and juicy, if that's possible. They have just remodelled their space and expanded the bar, so might be easier to get seats (try to avoid the pre-theatre crowd). I think they validate Radisson parking, not sure for how much.

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              Pigalle
              75 Charles Street South, Boston, MA 02116

              1. re: barleywino

                Went back and had the regular Angus burger at the bar at Pigalle. This burger easily blows away the Radius burger on all dimensions (makes it look like a hockey puck) and I would put it in the same league as the Back Bay Social Club burger ($21) and the Craigie burger ($18), but at half the price ($9). Somehow this one seems to have slipped under the radar. Like the housemade aioli provided on the side, too. Fries were very good ( homemade potato chips might be even nicer, but who does that)

                1. re: barleywino

                  Wow, $9. Thanks for the tip. Are there tables in the bar area?

                  1. re: bear

                    I think about 8 seats (no tables) altho it doesn't seem as crowded as say Craigie

                    1. re: barleywino

                      Thanks. Definitely sounds worth checking out.

          2. I was there a couple months ago with a group of 4. We specifically made a reservation in the bar to get the burger. Some other posts hint that they don't take reservations in the bar; we certainly had one, but perhaps they've changed their policy in the past couple months.

            We were told to arrive early, since they often run out of the burger, so we had reservations for whatever time they open for dinner. All 4 of us had the burger. (The server commented that when she sees a group of guys with a reservation for the first time slot in the bar, she assumes that they're all there for the burger.) I don't know about reservations for 5, since I recall that we originally had a slightly larger group, and we could only book tables for 4, since that was the largest table in the bar.

            On a personal note, I found the burger underwhelming, to say the least. Actually, I'd say it was one of the worst "gourmet burgers" I've had in my life, and I'm a big fan of gourmet burgers. I have many friends who have had better experiences with it, so I'm willing to admit that I had it on an off night... but boy, was it "off." Frankly, it was simultaneously the most rich, most odd and strong-tasting, and most tasteless burger I think I've ever had. And it was served woefully undercooked. (I ordered medium rare; what arrived was basically tartare with a crust.) To describe the taste is difficult, but it was like a flavorless beef (like raw ground veal?) injected with some sort of fat to make it taste about 700% richer and then flavored with incongruous spices.

            Everything about the meal EXCEPT the patty was fabulous. The bun, cheese, bacon, etc. were great. The fries were good though not fantastic, but the other sides and appetizers we ordered (pig tails, etc.) were great. Cocktails were amazing. Dessert was relatively awesome as well. But I could barely finish eating the burger. The richness combined with the other lackluster features I mentioned made it almost revolting by the end.

            I've had lots of strange burgers and mainstream burgers that I've loved. I'm willing to accept that this was a bad night, since I know so many people who have had better experiences -- but it was terrible enough that I wouldn't go back for it again.

            1 Reply
            1. re: athanasius

              I'm glad you wrote that. I have yet to try the burger but I can see how it could come out tasting like that.

            2. As a side note , my boss and I went to Radius for lunch yesterday.

              Place was jam packed on a Wednesday lunch. If there was 100 people in there , 98 were eating burgers.

              The burger meat was incredible. The horseradish mayo is too overpowering though. Bun was incredible. Fries were very good. If I went back and ordered it with light sauce it would be my new #1.

              4 Replies
              1. re: typhoonfish

                i noticed that Cook's Illustrated had the position that you need to have animal fat in your fries; i concur. Are any of these fries made with animal fat? For some reason, such fries are easy to find in Chicago but not here.

                1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                  both Craigie and Lineage have duck fat fries

                  1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                    A few threads you might want to check out, as not to drag this one into yet another OT tangent with references to other cities.
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/753084
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/710742

                    1. re: Gabatta

                      thanks; i will have to try the burger at craigie