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Camies Bakery in Cambridge.. hole in the wall, but good lunch

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grant.cook Mar 24, 2012 11:43 AM

Just got the stewed goat dinner from Camie's Bakery in Cambridge - very good flavor, goat was super tender (fall of the bone, but fortunately, not many bones as well), and the rice cooked very well.

Its a hole in the wall place. I think I heard more Haitian French than English spoken while I waited. There wasn't a place to sit inside, and parking nearby can be challenging if you aren't a Cantabrigian, but I'd recommend making it a destination to try out. They didn't have any sort of menu handy when I went in, so check out the online version before you go to get a feel for what you want.

  1. Dave MP Mar 29, 2012 02:23 PM

    This thread was featured on this week's Boston Digest. Thanks everyone who contributed to this great post: http://www.chow.com/digest/109904/hai...

    1. MC Slim JB Mar 24, 2012 12:37 PM

      I quite like Camie's food, too, like the housemade patties, stewed chicken, fried goat (wicked), and fried-pork sub (awesome). The AK100 was a new thing to me, too, a cornmeal-thickened milkshake that reminded me of a vanilla cookie and was really, really filling. Nice baked sweets, too, though I'm not that familiar with Haitian pastry-making.

      But last time I was in, there was a spacious if humble dining room with seating for a couple dozen customers (order at the counter, they'd bring it out to you). Did they close that off?

      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

      23 Replies
      1. re: MC Slim JB
        jgg13 Mar 24, 2012 12:55 PM

        I keep meaning to get that fried pork sub, based on your review but still haven't done it. I know that their fried pork stuff takes a while so I always say that I'll order it takeout on foodler and then I always am afraid that it'll come out substandard (my own fault for having an aversion to actually using the phone to place an order ....).

        Prices have definitely gone up since your review. I went in not too long after that was printed and one of the locals was arguing w/ the kid working the counter about the new prices being too high. At some point a woman (presumably the owner) came out and they started arguing in french so I was no longer privy to the details.

        1. re: jgg13
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          grant.cook Mar 24, 2012 06:12 PM

          When I was waiting for my order, far more was said in French than in English..

          1. re: grant.cook
            jgg13 Mar 25, 2012 06:57 AM

            My (limited) experience has been that the younger males that at least were dominating the front/register area during the day & weeknights were all english speakers, but a lot of the clientele and older workers preferred french. It'd make sense, as the former likely were born & raised here.

            1. re: jgg13
              Prav Mar 25, 2012 08:37 AM

              Not French but Haitian Creole, right?

              1. re: Prav
                jgg13 Mar 25, 2012 10:55 AM

                Presumably ... I'd imagine that what they're really saying aren't things approved by l'academie francaise.

          2. re: jgg13
            Luther Mar 28, 2012 02:04 PM

            Yeah they seriously jacked up the prices around the beginning of the year. It's good and convenient if you're in Cambridge but I like the food better (and it's cheaper) at both Sunrise in Somerville and Bon Apetit in Mattapan. More specifically, I like the fried green plantains better at those other places, and they've got the "brown" rice any time, whereas it's only a once a week special at Camie's, on Saturday I think. The other days you can get white or yellow.

            1. re: Luther
              jgg13 Mar 28, 2012 02:40 PM

              I remember the prices being noticeably higher than Slim's review back in the fall. If they've raised them again, yeow.

            2. re: jgg13
              MC Slim JB Mar 30, 2012 09:47 AM

              Here's a photo of the menu from May, 2011, when I was researching my Phoenix review, if anyone wants to compare prices then and now.

              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

               
            3. re: MC Slim JB
              galangatron Mar 26, 2012 12:16 PM

              they also have really good housemade lemonade. it tastes like a mix of different citrus but, whatever it is, it's refreshing and delicious

              1. re: galangatron
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                VivreManger Mar 28, 2012 04:44 PM

                Unfortunately it looks like they are keeping their options readily open for more price rises in the future. Their website has no prices listed whatsoever, a very annoying omission.

                Camie's Bakery 152 Columbia Street Cambridge, Mass 02139 Hours: 8AM - 8PM Monday - Saturday Phone: 617.661.4878
                General Questions/Comments: info@camiesbakery.com http://www.camiesbakery.com/Contact_U...

                1. re: VivreManger
                  jgg13 Mar 28, 2012 08:47 PM

                  I could be wrong (probably am) but I don't think they ever listed prices on their menu.

              2. re: MC Slim JB
                opinionatedchef Mar 30, 2012 01:55 AM

                slim, unless things have changed in the last 5 yrs, their patties are not house made; come from those same factories in NJ that all No.American patties seem to come from. I spent yrs looking for real ones and gave up. Went to Camie's because another CH said they were home made. Not. That is, iirc.

                1. re: opinionatedchef
                  MC Slim JB Mar 30, 2012 05:38 AM

                  Can't speak definitively, but the ones I sampled did not look factory made (easy to spot: identical, often with a logo stamped on them), had a homely, handmade quality to them. Not sure I've ever seen factory made fish patties, either. The baker also claimed they were made in-house, so that's how I reported it.

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                    jgg13 Mar 30, 2012 06:02 AM

                    It's been several months since I had one, but I remember thinking that the patty I had was very much *not* like the ubiquitous pre-fab ones you see everywhere. That's not to say that it was definitively made in house, but at least they bought them from some other supplier than everyone else.

                    1. re: MC Slim JB
                      Matt H Mar 30, 2012 06:35 AM

                      I have actually asked them in person as well and they said they are house made. Both the Patties and Stew Goat are a regular meal on my rotation.

                      Also opinionatedchef: While not Haitian, Lenny's in Mattapan makes their Jamaican patties in house.

                      1. re: Matt H
                        g
                        gourmaniac Mar 30, 2012 07:32 AM

                        RE Haitian patties, they are a different animal. They are smaller and have a thin puff pastry crust and varied fillings (e.g. codfish). Near Simcos off Blue Hill Ave, is Le Foyer which does a passable version. Matt, I know you know this: comment is for general clarification.

                        1. re: gourmaniac
                          Matt H Mar 30, 2012 07:49 AM

                          Definitely good information gourmaniac. I've never made it out to Le Foyer either, should pay them a visit.

                          Also since we are on the topic of Patties. Singh's Roti in Dorchester occasionally has a Trini Beef Pie, which is basically their version of a Patty.

                          1. re: gourmaniac
                            StriperGuy Mar 30, 2012 08:18 AM

                            Yah, I agree, totally different beast than the manufactured Jamaican-style patties that are ubiquitous in NYC Pizza places.

                            1. re: gourmaniac
                              jgg13 Mar 30, 2012 08:41 AM

                              That's exactly how I rmeember the patty I had being - the puff pastry instead of the thicker dough.

                            2. re: Matt H
                              MC Slim JB Mar 30, 2012 09:39 AM

                              Not the greatest photo, but here's a Camie's smoked herring patty I got when researching my Boston Phoenix review. That doesn't look factory made to me.

                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                               
                          2. re: opinionatedchef
                            itaunas Mar 30, 2012 10:17 AM

                            This discussion has come up before and I interviewed the owner Marie in the past, she says that they make the Haitian patties (and was particularly proud of them as well as some of the dishes). They, Izzy's, and the Carribbean market over on Norfolk all carried Jamaican patties at that time which were the mass-marketed/frozen versions. So its possible oc ended up buying the wrong thing. I am not surprised the prices have gone up because Area 4 is a lot different address than it used to be. There are more Haitian options both bakery and dining in Everett and those surrounds these days.

                            1. re: itaunas
                              opinionatedchef Mar 30, 2012 02:38 PM

                              The mass produced patties i'm referring to have a distnctly dark mustard yellow and tough pastry. Shape is a cross between a rectangle and a crescent. No stamped logo have i ever seen. Filling is like mystery meat- pureed into a paste; lots of salt and pepper and msg.Maybe I'm crazy but I could swear that a Boston Jamaican friend told me years ago that the best ones came from NYC and he actually brought me some once, and they weren't anything particularly excellent either. Of course, things change all the time in the food world. But just a warning- some people say ' yes, we make them here' but what that means is 'we bake them off here'., so you might want to ask the question, 'do you make the filling here; what's in it?' As to slim's photo of the fish patty, I can't stand that pre-made cheap fake puff pastry product made w/ all things other than butter, but that is all i found in Dorch/Mattapan when i went on that patty search some yrs ago. If I find my report, i'll link it.

                              found it, from 2008:

                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5453...

                              1. re: opinionatedchef
                                Matt H Mar 30, 2012 03:10 PM

                                OC, the issue is that you are looking for a Jamaican Patty at a Haitian Restaurant/Bakery. Specify that you want a Haitian Patty from Cammie's and you will get a superior product.

                                Otherwise as we mentioned, Lenny's Tropical Bakery is the only place as far as I know that is making Jamaican patties on site and they are very good. They also make their own Breads and other JA Pastries.

                                I also warn against searching for Jamaican baked goods in general at "Cooked Food" restaurants. In Jamaica and anywhere the diaspora has ended up, bakeries Bake and Restaurants cook, you will barely ever see a Jamaican establishment that does both well.

                                So no matter how good to food is at Jamaica's Flavor in Lynn for example, do not expect them to get into the Patty business because that is a very specialized trade.

                        2. jgg13 Mar 24, 2012 12:29 PM

                          By not having seating do you mean that it was full or that there was nowhere to sit? If the latter, that's a relatively recent change.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: jgg13
                            g
                            grant.cook Mar 24, 2012 06:09 PM

                            The latter, but it was a Saturday, so maybe they change up the layout after the work week.. the dining space was closed off, and the closed off space (where my infant son toddled into of course), was full of bread trays with Camie's - labeled breads and a table with some office materials.

                            1. re: grant.cook
                              jgg13 Mar 25, 2012 06:56 AM

                              Interesting. It's been a while since I"ve popped in there, I should check it out to see if that's a permanent change or not.

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