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Craigie on Main, or Should breakfast cost $90?

A week ago I made it to Craigie's sunday brunch. We were greeted friendly by the staff who offered to bring us a single donut ($5) to share while ordering our food.

The place is reasonable nice even though I was surprised why they would use large paper towels on top of their linen table cloths.

We then both ordered their famous burger as well as juice, coffee and a side of slow-cooked porkbelly.

Soon after the food arrived. Their burger tastes great yet lacks kind of specific touch. It's a good burger, alright. It tastes like beef. But it doesn't taste any different then when I would buy very good beef, grind it, form a patty and sear it. Sides are some pickles, ketchup and a kind of celery salad. Again they were tasty but nothing to write home about. The slow-cooked pork arrived in a bizarrely tiny portion - maybe two ounces? Again, it was good but nothing close to the buta no kakuki you could get a, say, Isetan or Mitsukoshi in Tokyo.

That said it was really not bad, it it was most definitely better than "ok", instead it was good. But it wasn't great either and it certainly should not have cost $90 for two.

Now, I find $20 for a burger quite expensive but I get it: Its ingredients are expensive. You will need some really good beef and that's going to cost.

What I do not get is how they overcharge on everything else: A cup of average coffee should not cost $5. A tiny glass of juice for $4 is questionable, a homeopathic amount of pork for $8 is borderline obscene and no donut in the world should cost $5. In the end quite a small breakfast that left us both somewhat hungry cost somewhere slightly above $75, add a tip and that's $90.

I'm perfectly fine with paying that kind of money when I think it's worth it, but at Craigie on Main I felt that it is not.

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  1. that is expensive by the standards of the top restaurants in nyc; i like craigie, but it is not in that class IMHO.

    1. Yeah, we had brunch at Craigie a couple months ago, and I didn't bother posting about the experience because I was afraid of reprisal by hounds who love it. For us, it was OK, but not worth the $270 we dropped for 4. Not only that, the B squad must be working on the weekend, because service was abysmal. They were duly apologetic for all the mishaps and time lags, but it became comedy. Oh, and they were out of tea!!!!! I will never be able to get my husband back there. He felt utterly ripped off.

      1. Count me in the unimpressed and not willing to try again camp for COM - the bartending / service at the bar used to be spectacular every time and kept us coming back but that era ended a while ago...I actually didn't like that burger at all - if it's still the one with marrow ground into it. The food there has always seemed overwrought and overpriced to me.

        1. You lost me at you left hungry after two burgers with fries and egg, a side of pork and a donut and fresh squeezed juice.

          Only thing I understand is $5 average coffee. Was it a bottomless cup?

          homeopathic? really? that's the word you chose?

          25 Replies
          1. re: Bellachefa

            two burgers for two seems quite reasonable to me ;)

            1. re: Bellachefa

              I thought the use of "homeopathic" was hysterical = Diluted to the point that there is essentially nothing there...

              1. re: Bellachefa

                Homeopathic is a hilariously accurate word for a tiny amount of something, and I was amused by its use in this context. 2 oz of pork is indeed laughably small for $8.

                1. re: Prav

                  I willingly stand down on the word homeopathic. Duly corrected,

                  1. re: Bellachefa

                    Go to Mistral - have the duck hash and the rosemary frites. Pay the big bill. Be full and happy. Brunch at its best.

                    1. re: teezeetoo

                      I'd put Mistral in the same class as Craigie on Main, in that a lot of people complain about the prices but it still stays packed. I'd say Craigie is expensive, but its ambition gets it closer to justifying its prices than Mistral does theirs.

                      I had a better than average experience at Mistral not too long ago, but I still think it gets away with murder on prices. And its duck hash doesn't hold a candle to Craigie's cheek/brisket/smoked tongue hash, in my book.


                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        Speaking strictly on brunch, I've haven't really seen anyone complain about Mistral's price to value (or service, or food) on these boards.

                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            The point of my post was value, not price. I'm aware that you're a long time Mistral basher.

                            1. re: Gabatta

                              Yes, one man's calling an expensive place a poor value is another man's bashing.


                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                As I said, I have never had brunch at Craigie (I don't find their brunch menu appealing, as I prefer more breakfast-oriented items like omelets and pancakes), but in considering Mistral's prices one should also consider that the price of an entree generally includes a side and fresh baked muffin. The first time I went to Mitral, I ordered the made-to-order cinnamon buns and an entree, and it was way too much food. The food one is served when ordering just an entree will be considered a big meal for most people.

                                All of that said, I don't think a Craigie vs. Mistral smackdown is all that productive.

                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          I haven't had brunch at Craigie so I can't make a comparison. I've had brunch at Mistral 4 or 5 times and, of course, I've been aware that it isn't going to be cheap. My point, with which you are free to disagree, is that I've never left Mistral feeling cheated or underwhelmed by the price/food/quality math. The poster apparently had that experience at Craigie. Maybe he didn't order the things that would make his heart happy to spend the money and I wasn't commenting about the quality as I have no experience with Craigie's brunch. If I get the chance to "compare" the two hashes, I'll report back on whether I agree with you. Till then, all I can say is what I said: I knew Mistral wouldn't be cheap and I didn't feel cheated.

                          1. re: teezeetoo

                            I guess my question is, if you can see the value in a $20 brunch entree at Mistral -- something some folks will never be comfortable with anywhere -- is the similarly-priced Craigie brunch entree a huge step down in value? It's not, in my experience: just my own personal value assessment.

                            The fact that Hounds have their own value assessments of such places is not only a commonplace, but a big point of this board's reason for being. Nobody should take it as a personal slight when another Hound doesn't share their assessment of a place.


                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              No offense taken at all. I enjoy your posts and respect your perspective. We can, quite cordially, disagree about Mistral. As I read the OP, he didn't really try brunch: he had burgers and some small things and he was po'd at the price of a donut and his coffee. As I think of it, if he went to Craigie he expected to pay $$$$ for brunch. Perhaps he should have ordered brunch.

                              1. re: teezeetoo

                                Here are the six entrees they serve for brunch:

                                Crispy-Fried Chicken Sausage
                                House-Smoked Sockeye Salmon Hash
                                House-Cured Wild King Salmon & Bluefish Rillettes
                                Grilled Two Cheese and Roast Pork Sandwich
                                Local Grass-Fed Beef Burger
                                Grass-Fed Beef Cheek, Brisket, and Smoked Beef Tongue

                                1. re: teezeetoo

                                  a concurrent thread touting the $13 burger at drink. with fries costing $7. soooooooooo, also a $20 burger.

                                  isn't the 4-course chef's whim at craigie $45?

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    i find the dinner prices at craigie reasonable, especially the whim which is very reasonable. I do not do brunch.

                                    For dinner, i prefer Craigie to Mistral.

                                    1. re: LeoLioness

                                      As I said, I haven't had brunch at Craigie so I can't comment on the food. Mistral probably has about 20 entree choices (my husband almost always has the lemon poppyseed pancakes and I almost always have the duck hash so we haven't worked our way through the menu). Six "brunch entrees" seems kind of mingy to me and I just don't think of burgers as brunch food. At an "upscale" brunch I tend to try things I couldn't have at other times, but that's my choice. Still, I feel that the range of choice at Mistral, all by itself, suggests that brunch might be a "brunchier" experience than at Craigie.

                                      1. re: teezeetoo

                                        Many (most?) places have a burger on their brunch menu. Just because you don't think of it as "brunch" doesn't make it the case. I don't eat pancakes or other sweets at brunch, but I recognize them as part of the standard brunch offering.

                                        1. re: LeoLioness

                                          well its a big world full of different tastes and different opinions. The poster didn't find his burger special enough to warrant the prices and he felt the other things he ordered weren't worth the price. I haven't eaten brunch at Craigie nor have I had the vaunted burger. I can only comment that I have enjoyed my brunches at Mistral. . I certainly don't insist that anybody eschew a burger for their brunch. Your choice and I hope you find one you like.

                                          1. re: teezeetoo

                                            No, but you said "he really didn't try brunch". He was was there during brunch hours and ordered and ate food from the brunch menu.

                                            Your claim that he didn't "try brunch" because he didn't order something YOU like was what I was commenting on.

                            2. re: teezeetoo

                              I have not had brunch at Craigie (although I live close by), but love, love brunch at Mistral, and have not found their brunch prices offputting. Their prices are high, but the delta between their prices at brunch and other restaurants in the neighborhood is not nearly as great as it is at dinner time.

                        2. re: Bellachefa

                          actually the use of the word "homeopathic" to describe an infinitely small amount of ingredient is the best thing I've seen on Chowhound today and made me laugh out loud.

                          1. re: Bellachefa

                            The burgers at Cragie are pretty good (don't get even close to the hype IMO), but they're not large at all. Actually on the smallish side. I can't say that I'd leave "hungry" after that meal, but certainly not totally full.

                          2. I have never been, but a friend of mine went two weeks ago and said the food was absolutely NOT worth the price. For someone who doesn't have to think too much about the cost at the end of the night, I was stunned at how pissed he was about it for a period of days! Granted it was just one person's experience, after reading this thread (and others), I will say I have truly I have lost my desire to go...

                            1. 5 bucks about average for a cronut

                              1. From Wikipedia-Brunch is a meal eaten between breakfast and lunch during the week usually in the late morning but it can extend to as late as 3PM on Sundays.[1][2] The word is a portmanteau of breakfast and lunch

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: trufflehound

                                  God love the places that extend it until 4, for late risers such as myself. Anything before noon is breakfast in my book.

                                2. My mom would shudder at the thought of burgers for breakfast

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: L2k

                                    Does your mom understand what brunch is?

                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                        very funny!!!!

                                        take mom to one of the big venue vegas brunches!!!

                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                          the neptune burger is a hangover burger.

                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                            you mean the one with fried oysters on top. never ate it myself, but have seen others eat it with great enjoyment. I do love their fried oysters on top of pork confit...

                                            1. re: Madrid

                                              It's a very good burger. I wasn't sold on the concept initially, but after about thirty visits to Neptune, I concluded that I had to try it as the lone menu option that remained untested.

                                              I'd guessed it would be one big bomber of an oyster, the quahog of oysters, but it was three little, perfectly fried ones. Good enough that I've had it again since. One of those concepts that didn't strike me as a great idea on paper, but I was wrong. If not an oyster-topped burger at Neptune, where?


                                      2. A $5 donut? What was in it?

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Kat

                                          i did craigie brunch a couple years ago.. if i remember correctly its served with a side of homemade confiture du lait and maybe another sauce...

                                          getting back to the overpriced nature (not saying you were saying that, though you may be, but more just wanted to link it back to the discussion above) is the donut 'overpriced' ... maybe? compared to what? compared to standard brunch markups? no i don't think so. compared to other donuts? yeah probably. if you reframe it thinking of it as a small dessert instead of as 'a donut'? maybe not, especially given what their typical dessert costs and the fact its (i assume?) still designed by the same pastry team, and its still part of a dining experience in which every item has to incorporate to some extent the service cost of the item which, at a place like craigie, i'm guessing is a lot higher than at a donut shop (though, that's amateur speculation on my point)

                                          1. re: valcfield

                                            It's like a $10 peach. Crazy, you'd say, who'd pay $10 for a peach? Well, would you pay $10 for dessert? Yes? Then why not $10 for a peach that is dessert?

                                        2. What a crazy place!! I would have thought that the menu would have had prices on it. That way, it is possible to make a price/value comparison before you order. Shame on the restaurant for hiding the prices.

                                          Also, what do you expect from a hamburger?

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Chulacat

                                            The printed menu has the prices on it. You know how much you are paying before you order.

                                            Whether or not you can make a value comparison, well, you really can't do that anywhere before you eat, can you?

                                            1. re: LeoLioness

                                              Oh. The original poster made it seem like he/she was shocked by the price. I thought that the restaurant must have been hiding the price otherwise how could they have been shocked?

                                              1. re: Chulacat

                                                and here i thought you were just being sarcastic about the prices and the burger question (bc op basically described what i look for in a burger). incidentally, prices are on the website too, barring coffee (on the brunch menu at least, it may be listed elsewhere)

                                                1. re: Chulacat

                                                  It's not so much about the price, it's more about value. I would happily pay more for truly excellent food. But when I pay top dollar for merely good food, I'm unhappy.

                                                  1. re: Scharn

                                                    That's totally fair. Frankly, I felt the same way about my last dinner at Craigie.

                                              1. When I first read the title of the post I thought, "No, not when dinner can be close to $400" But after reading it and seeing that you didn't get an alcoholic beverages it is kind of surprising. It's been years since I had brunch at Craigie (or been out at all since I had a baby) but when it first started serving brunch I really liked it. The "dimanche" house-made sausage were delicious and the bloody mary's are fantastic... I remember ordering pork belly there and it was a little smaller than the size of penguin paperback novel. I didn't find it too small at all even when sharing it as a side with my dad.

                                                And seriously? You left hungry? What are you, professionally athletes? I'm a little bit envious of that. So many times I'm eating something swoon-worthy and I'm either too stuffed to finish it and feel bad about wasting it or leave feeling a little ill because I forced it down.

                                                1. there are plenty of people who have complained about service at Craigie on this board.

                                                  I think that the food there has been good when i have eaten there including the burger.

                                                  I care only about the food and am nearly always satisfied by service.

                                                  1. Folks, we removed a huge debate about the nature of discussion on Chowhound. That sort of 'discussing the discussion' is considered off-topic for a regional board because of the way it takes over threads and pulls focus from actually talking about food (as it did here), and it tends to get unfriendly (though this was mostly pretty good on that front). We'll go back through it and see if there are any specific posts that are about chow in the Boston area, rather than about how people talk about it here and try to restore them if we can, but if you'd like copies of your personal posts back, you can email us at moderators@chowhound.com and we can send them to you.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                      Followup thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/919173

                                                      (Mods: I was given permission to link to it by one of your own, in an e-mail exchange.)

                                                    2. I've eaten at Craigie 5 times and the food simply isn't as good as the prices would indicate.

                                                      Clio Mistral Espalier Menton No 9 Park Erbaluce Oishii Grill 23 Oleana:

                                                      9 Restaurants all in the same price range as Craigie, that all offer superior service and superior-tasting food. A meat or fish or pasta entree from any one of the above places is better than any entree from craigie 9/10 times in my personal experience

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: Beefcakeexpress

                                                        In my experience, L'Espalier, Menton, and Oishii Boston are all significantly more expensive than Craigie, and Clio and No. 9 are rather more expensive. But I agree: with the exception of Oishii, I think those higher price tags do bring superior service to Craigie's.


                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                          Is Oishii really more expensive than Craigie? I've only eaten at Craigie once and wasn't impressed enough to spend that kind of money on a return visit (I had the same response to Menton). But I didn't find Oishii more expensive. Did you mean O Ya?

                                                          1. re: teezeetoo

                                                            Oishii Boston (as opposed to its Chestnut Hill store, which does a rather more traditional sushi/sashimi menu at rather lower prices, and the Sudbury store, which I've never been to) has L'Espalier-like prices, in my experience. It is possible to get out of there on the cheap, but I'd guess the average check size tops $100/head.

                                                            O Ya and Menton are in a head-to-head competition for most expensive restaurant in Boston.


                                                            1. re: teezeetoo

                                                              Oishii Boston is expensive. Our bill for 2 was $250 recently. This was not for omakase (combo of cold appetizers, sashimi and one maki), and we had one $30 bottle of sake and a few beers. The food is excellent, but the prices can be surprising (the excellent cold appetizers run $20-30).

                                                            2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                              Menton: $95 4 course prix fixe. A bit less food than Craigies base tasting for sure

                                                              No 9 park: app 21 entree 39 prix fix 69 7 courses 112

                                                              Clio: app 16-24 entree 38-40 7 courses 115

                                                              Espalier: $115 6-course tasting. Huge amount of food, easily as much as the craigie base tasting or more

                                                              Oishii: heh. Depends. If I'm eating at any restaurant on this list I'd spend the most here

                                                              Craigie: $38 entrees $18 appetizers "8"-course tasting- 110 I think?

                                                              Craigie rarely overloads on portion size either.

                                                              I'd say the only decisively more expensive than Craigie are Espalier, Menton, Oishii and that's maybe a 10% difference,
                                                              depending on how one orders.

                                                              I really do feel Craigie has consistently worse entrees and food in general than any of the places I named. It's good and unique sure. Places like Espalier are just in another ball park of quality...