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Monday, June 10, 2013

Anniversary Restaurant Review: Craigie on Main

Four years ago on May 24th, 2009, my husband and I got married.  It was such a great day.  Good food, friends, family, and a great memory to start our journey together.  Each year we sit and talk about what we should do on our anniversary to celebrate our life and relationship.  We have this list in a spiral journal of things to do in our lives, kind of like a bucket list, but also a list of dreams and memories.  We have silly things, like "play dodge ball," expensive things like "tour Australia," sentimental things like "teach Sam to drive," and difficult things like "Car accident".  I would highly recommend sitting with your partner and creating such a list.  It is good for a couple of reasons. First, you know how to surprise your partner with special dates and experiences that maybe you would never know they wanted to try!  We have things listed that we put down a couple years ago, so if I plan something I can truly surprise my husband with something I know he wants to do but we haven't discussed recently.  Secondly, when we check off an item we record the date.  This allows us to keep track of a lot of memories and dates and special times and moments we have shared as a couple.  We even added surviving hurricane Sandy and getting in our first car accident, so now we can look back when we are 80 and see what we have been through together...good, bad, and ugly!

This year we consulted "the list" and decided to go out to a nice dinner in Boston (since next year we are planning to knock off a trip to Napa/Sonoma).  We had originally decided to head to the top of the Prudential and have a nice meal.  We were thinking the food would just be "okay" but the view would be spectacular, we could get some seafood, and have a good reason to get all dressed up.  It has also been an item on the list since our earlier dating days.

The week of our anniversary, however, I was talking with a friend and she mentioned her "husband's restaurant".  Well to clarify, the one he works for in Cambridge.  She told me all about how the restaurant uses all locally sourced and organic foods from farms.  She said they have a "tasting" menu where you basically sit and have them bring out whatever the chef has in mind (they take into account allergies and food preferences, etc).  She explained some of the meals she had there and it sounded so much more exciting as an anniversary dinner.  It definitely sounded more like "us"  (organic and adventurous) than a steakhouse in Boston, so we switched the reservation and that is how we ended up at Craigie on Main in Cambridge.

We are so glad we decided to switch.  The weather was um...pouring (to put it lightly).  I am talking like torrential downpours.  I am sure the view from the top of the Pru was a little less nice that evening than usual.  We will save that list item for another date.  Craigie on Main also had valet parking, which was really handy on this particular night!

So here is what my husband and I thought of our adventurous night out to Craigie on Main (keep in mind that this was our "cheat day" from the vegan challenge):

The atmosphere is nice and the dress is business casual.  I felt like I could dress up and feel a little fancy, but it wasn't stuffy or pretentious.  When I go to steak houses in Boston (Grill 23 for instance),  I feel like I could "mess up" and that I don't really belong.  I feel almost judged!  Craigie on Main didn't feel like that at all.  I felt comfortable, welcomed, relaxed, and excited! No snobbery.

The service was fabulous.  Maybe a little on the side of more-fabulous-than-usual because my friend told the staff we were coming as friends of his...but fabulous none-the-less (and they seemed great to surrounding tables too).  When we walked in, we got the best smile from the hostess and I felt like she was genuinely excited that we came.  She brought us back to a cute little romantic table (that wasn't on top of the next table over).  They brought out an "anniversary toast" right away with some sparkling wine. So special!  The wait staff, food runners, etc, knew everything about the food.  We were not rushed through our meal (and we had 6+ courses!) and they genuinely wanted to know how we liked everything, how the wine was going with the food (which they happily paired for us) and let us be alone in between courses to enjoy each others' company and savor our meal.

The food was truly memorable and delicious.  We ordered the six course "Tasting" menu because we wanted to enjoy the adventure of it, but they had a really nice pre-fixe menu that changes based on the day's food and availability (which is why the menu is not specifically posted on the website).  Highlights on the food included sushi-type courses like rainbow trout with horseradish sauce, pickled mackerel and mullet with a pea shoot coulis.  The main course was brought out by the main chef himself, Tony Maws!  I knew it was him because I had seen him on a clip you can view here.   The main course was a beef tenderloin wrapped in bacon with white asparagus and roasted carrots on the side.  It was divine.  I don't really even like carrots and these were divine.  I would have to agree with the waitress who quipped "Everything roasted in duck fat tastes good".  Yes. It. Does.  We also tried white asparagus ice cream with anise.  It doesn't sound  like asparagus and ice cream would go together, but it did here!  It was sweet and definitely tasted like asparagus.  The main desserts were also good (they brought two different ones to try), an ice cream with chocolate soaked in espresso and some sweet fried dough balls with caramel and a dipping sauce. They brought another little treat after the dessert, but I was way too stuffed to taste it.  Again, delicious food that I couldn't make at home!

All in all, a great meal. Memorable and fun and right up our alley!  I will mention that we couldn't go there often because it is a bit pricey.  The pre fixe meal was more reasonable price-wise than the tasting menu, but we splurged because it was a special occasion!  However, we are SO glad we did and it was worth every penny for such a great anniversary memory!  I highly recommend this restaurant and hope to be going again someday for another special occasion!

In health and culinary adventures,
Nicole Harter

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