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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.

                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                      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.

                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                              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.

                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                            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...