Located between the Central and Kendall/MIT T stops, Craigie on Main is also car-friendly, with some street-parking as well as valet available. An interesting mix of local seasonal New England cuisine with French techniques, Craigie on Main has moved towards the top of my Boston-area favorites.
We arrived (a bit late) for our reservation, and were told that there was a recent cancellation for the chef's counter, and were asked if we would like to sneak on in. We snatched the opportunity to peek into the kitchen, and plopped ourselves front and center.
The whole restaurant is focused on the open kitchen, which is a nice change, but does create a bit of a bustle for those that don't have front-row seats like we did. Fortunately, there are many mirrors placed throughout the dining room so diners are able to see bits and pieces of the cooking.
Every night the menu may change, but there are always prix fix menus along with tasting menus of 6- or 8-courses available. T and I went with the prix fix as we had our eyes on certain items already. After ordering, we were surprised with one amuse bouche each, for T, a mussel, and for me, a beef heart pastrami with spicy mustard.
As an appetizer, T went with the house-made farro flour spaccatelli with wild boar and forest mushroom ragoût. T reported this was very savory, and I stole a piece of the spaccatelli which I can report was very rich & tasty. I went with the grilled Spanish octopus with grilled cipollini onion, green olive & lemon salad, bulgur wheat, and chorizo purée. Soft, delicate, and delicious, this was the perfect light appetizer. We were also amazed by how large our appetizers were.
For entrees, I chose the slow roasted chicken breast (since I love restaurant chicken so much) with chicken sausage, dried apricots, forest mushrooms, spring-dug carrots, and a scotch whisky jus. This is the dish that single-handedly blew me away. This chicken has undoubtedly moved to the top of my Boston-restaurant-chicken list...a hard list to even get near. Moist, tender, and flavorful, the combinations on the plate were unbelievable.
Travis went with the Vermont pork three ways: suckling confit, spice crusted rib, smoked & grilled belly with russett apple purée, turnips, port-soaked pruned, and maitake mushrooms. The confit melted in his mouth while the rib was crispy and moist. The grilled belly reportedly paired well with the mushrooms. We also split a side of duck-fat roasted brussel sprouts, which were fresh, crispy & scrumptous.
As T was stuffed and out of commission for dessert, I took control and ordered for us (....me, really). I have always loved anything malted, and the moment I read those four little letters on the menu (m-a-l-t) it was decided. We got the malted milk parfait, with honey roasted peanuts & a chocolate sorbet. I allowed T to have 2 bites, but then after tasting this dish, I hoarded it for myself. This dessert is easily in my top-2 desserts in Boston. Unbelievably tasty, the contrasting textures harmonized into an amazing flavorful bite. Bits of chocolate brownie, a small almost peanut-buttery-caramel textured bit, with crunchy pieces resembling cocoa crispies and the salty honey roasted peanuts...I was in food-heaven after bite one.
At this point, we were completely stuffed, we enjoyed the hazelnut-caramel macarons before heading home, passing the cute seasonal pumpkin-lanterns strewn about Central Square.
We will most definitely be back to Craigie on Main. I now have the Chef's Whim's tasting menu on my to-visit list. Every Sunday after 9pm, chef Tony Maws will cook up a discounted 4- or 6-course tasting menu on a whim. More information here.