Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Craigie on Main, Cambridge (Burger only)

Years ago, as I was just starting to dip my toe into this whole world of food blogging, I spent hours pouring through the boards on Chowhound.com looking at what the Boston food "experts" were recommending to go.  The boards were full of debate over the best restaurants, the best dishes, the best underground establishments, the up and coming chefs...anything you needed in the food world was there.  I relished every word and found that time and time and time again these people would exclaim that the Craigie Street Bistro was the best for...well everything it seemed.  The years passed and Craigie moved locations and names now known as Craigie on Main.  I missed the original location completely, but the other day, in almost hallowed silence I entered their "new" location on Main street in Central Square.  I was there for one thing and one thing only- their burger. See the boards, and numerous others, have often exclaimed their burger to be simply the best in Boston.  I was beyond excited to finally have a chance to check it out.

For the record- it doesn't really come as any surprise that Craigie would receive such accolades.  Executive Chef Tony Maws is basically a Chef God.  He is often given the coveted James Beard nomination for Best Chef Northeast.  His restaurant concentrates, basically religiously, on sourcing their menu with only the freshest local ingredients.  Each menu item lists where the different components were found, and it is that dedication to detail that can be tasted in their dishes.  Now much of their menu isn't for the faint of heart.  The menu often contains dishes that include true "nose to tail" dining, a practice that can either excite or disgust.

This brunch time visit however didn't bother with taxing ones adventurous side as both my dining companion and I had the burger on the brain.  After we were seated and drink orders were taken, we were served what could be billed as amuse bouche, however far more generous than that.  A small bowl of tangy yogurt covered in house made granola, and a perfectly fried cake donut covered in a warm caramel sauce were set in front of us.  The granola was crunchy and rustic in its feel, but had a unique citrus flavor that set it a part from all those other granola's out there.  The donut, as one might expect, stole the show, warm and sweet, with the ever so slight crispness one wants with a fresh donut.  The caramel sauce may have been a bit over the top, but I certainly wouldn't turn it down.  It was a delicious accompaniment to the cake like treat.

As much as I enjoyed these complimentary dishes, I was more than ready when my burger, with it's accompaniments, was set in front of me.  The burger was served with crisped potatoes, a light dressed green salad and then sides of mace enhanced ketchup, house made pickles and a celery root slaw.  And then, of course, there was the burger itself.  It was a tall presentation, a fluffy house made sesame seed bun encased a generous patty of grass fed ground beef, topped with a thick slice of Shelbourne Farm cheddar cheese, hearty strips of house smoked bacon, red leaf lettuce and a healthy dose of mace ketchup.  When I am in "review" mode I concentrate on finding those unique seasonings and herbs that are used to make the dish.  I took two bites of this burger and realized, in a glorious way, that those twists were absent and what remained was perfect mouthful of juicy beef.  The accompaniments were there, sure, but the predominant flavor, the one that I was looking for was pure, delicious beef-un adulterated by too much seasoning or salt.  The patty was wonderfully moist-its juices running into a stream on my plate below.  The thick bacon was wonderful, though with this burger, unnecessary as the meat itself contained all the flavor needed.  I know that the potatoes were very crispy, the way they should be, and the salad was very nicely dressed.  I know I enjoyed these, but that burger completely overshadowed them both. 

I am thrilled that I my expectations of an outstanding experience at Craigie were not out of line.  They were spot on from service staff, to ambiance to that amazing burger.  I wont go around awarding prizes for "Best of" but I will say that that was the best burger I've had in ages and I know now that when I'm craving one, that is what I'll be craving...

1 comment:

Kristen said...

great review! Still haven't had the pleasure of this burger, but have wanted to try it for ages andsame goes for that donut.

Restaurant Reviews: A dead art?

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