Photo Credit: Michael Piazza
Craigie Street Bistro had been on my list of restaurants to try for years. It wasn’t until the restaurant moved to Main Street and I started dating Mr. E, who is a very enthusiastic bacon eating pescetarian, that I finally took the dive. On record, my first Yelp check in was 4 months ago. However, I have a Google talk conversation between Mr. E and me dated October 10th, in which I refer to Craigie as a “classic.” I don’t generally call places classics until I’ve been there at least 3 or 4 times. That being said, I’ve been to Craigie on Main approximately 10 or so times since October. Yes, I realize that reveals some of my unhealthy obsessive behavior and yes, let it be known that the rest of this entry will be heavily biased in Craigie’s favor.
Chef/proprietor Tony Maws opened Craigie Street Bistro in 2002 and in 2008 picked up shop and made his way to Main Street in Central Square to the aptly named Craigie on Main. I love a man who can so artfully state the obvious. James Beard would also agree since Tony was awarded Best Chef in the Northeast in 2011, not that clever restaurant names garners you the win.
When I think of Craigie on Main, I immediately think of fresh, local ingredients. The restaurant proudly updates its chalk board with the week’s market bounty, which you can spot as soon as you walk through the front doors. I’m not particularly earthy crunchy, but I like the locavore movement. I like local businesses supporting each other and boosting neighborhood economies. There are a lot of other very compelling eco-friendly reasons to eat locally grown foods, but the business person inside of me loves the micro economics.
My twin sister Krissie and one of my best food loving friends Ray (co-Cooking Agent) joined me for dinner this past Sunday. It was their first time and I was more than thrilled to be there with them. It’s a very homey restaurant and despite its relatively large size, it feels cozy. The wait staff is so eager about the food, you can’t help but be swept up in the love fest. The bartenders are even better. They make wonderful drinks. My gin based cocktail from New Year’s was out of this world (I’m anti-gin, remember?). What impresses me is how adaptable and non-judgmental they are. I can’t tell you the number of looks I get when I order a mocktail at other establishments. They carry a lot of fresh ingredients and fortunately, I love their usual fallback base, ginger beer.
Crispy-Fried Pig’s Tails with pickled peanuts, nuoc cham, cilantro (totally tasted like Vinh Sun’s wings)
Chicken Sausage-Stuffed Chicken, Vidalia onions, spinach, potatoe puree, chanterelle jus
Bone Marrow with crunchy toasted bread
Grilled Spanish Octopus, grilled cipollini onion, green olive and lemon salad, bulgur wheat, spiced artichoke puree
Sour Milk Panna Cotta
Crispy Fried Maine Clams, preserved lemon, pickled peppers, squid ink anchoïade
Chocolate Mousse Cake
We all smiled, shared, and stuffed ourselves silly. The octopus never fails. Every other restaurant grilling octopus needs to take notes from Chef Tony Maws. It is so perfect. The right amount of grilled flavor without being completely overwhelmed. Plus, if you have room (and you should always make room), the sour milk panna cotta will make you swoon.
You don’t have to care about local, seasonal, and organic ingredients to appreciate Tony’s food. However, who doesn’t want to eat a perfectly wonderful meal and not also feel good about it.
Chef/proprietor Tony Maws
Craigie on Main
853 Main Street
Cambridge, MA 02139