On a recent trip to Boston, the DGA team dined at Craigie on Main, a Cambridge restaurant that blends French cuisine with seasonal New England ingredients. The dinner featured simple dishes prepared and executed at a high level, befitting Craigie’s reputation as one of the best restaurants in Boston.
Craigie on Main and chef Tony Maws have been the recipients of numerous culinary awards. Maws won the James Beard Award for Best Chef Northeast in 2011. Boston Magazine also named him the Best Chef in Boston in 2008 and in 2005 Food and Wine Magazine named him “One of America’s 10 Best New Chefs.” Maws, a Newton native, has worked under Boston chef Ken Oringer and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck. He has also studied modern French cuisine under Bernard Constatnin in Lyon, France. In 2002, Maws opened his first restaurant Craigie Street Bistrot. In 2008, he closed Craigie Street Bistrot and opened Craigie on Main in its present home. Since moving to its new location, the restaurant has won awards from Boston Magazine, GQ, Food and Wine, Bon Appétit, and other national publications. In late 2013, he opened his second restaurant, Kirkland Tap & Trotter in nearby Sommerville.
|Chef Tony Maws|
The team eschewed the tasting menu in favor of individual appetizers and entrees. Below are some of the highlights.
Six Wiley Point Oysters
Meyer lemon vinaigrette
The oysters were light and delicate and paired nicely with the bottle of white wine that Doug had ordered for the table.
Crispy-Fried Pig’s Tails
pickled peanuts, nuoc cham, cilantro
The pig tails were crispy on the outside and fatty and soft on the inside. It seemed like they were cooked slow and low for hours to render out the fat and then dropped quickly in the fryer before being served. Nuoc cham
Ragoût of New Jersey Asparagus
chicken confit, pickled ramps, mustard seeds, farm fresh egg
A ragout is traditionally a slow cooked dish cooked over low heat. Primarily ragouts feature meats, but in this case, the asparagus was the star of the dish.
Whole Wheat Conchiglie Pasta
boudin noir ragoût, ramps, Parmigiano Reggiano
While this basic whole wheat pasta dish seemed simple, it was incredibly complex in flavor.
|The Restaurant's logo tells you what it's all about|
Olive Oil-Poached Scottish Sea Trout
razor clams, couscous, artichoke barigoule, za’atar, fennel purée
Benson ordered this trout dish that came out of the kitchen colored a deep orange, almost like salmon. It had been slow cooked for forty minutes and infused (via air) with spices. Benson liked it so much, he shared a bite of it with Doug.
Vermont Pork Three Ways: Spice-Crusted Rib, Slow-Cooked Belly and Roasted Loin
Morel mushrooms, white asparagus, cashew mustard, claytonia
This was the most popular dish at the table and for good reason. It featured three different parts of the pig. The Spice crusted rib had the best combination of flavor and texture. It was crispy (having been fried) on the outside and the meat fell off the bone. The loin was perfectly cooked and the belly, the part of the pig used to make bacon, was rich and delicious.
|Craigie on Main features on open kitchen|
Chocolate Foie Gras Pot de Crème
barley ice cream, crispy oat crumbs, foie gras torchon
The desserts at Craigie on Main blended traditional desserts with savory ingredients—hence a pot de crème and foie gras. The pot de crème, a custard-like dessert, tasted of chocolate, but was not sugary. Additionally it had a barley ice cream, making it another item that no one at the table had ever seen before.
white asparagus ice cream, rhubarb chantilly, spiced cookies
Doug was not a fan of white asparagus ice cream.
Overall, Craigie on Main was a restaurant that offered simple presentations, bold flavors, and challenged our palates. So if that kind of dining experience appeals to you, go eat there. We recommend it.