Saturday, March 16, 2013

Birthday dinner: Craigie on Main

I've always taken for granted how close I live to one of Boston's best restaurants, Craigie on Main.  It's only a ten minute walk from my apartment, right next to Toscanini's, in fact!  But - I've always passed by the doors somewhat wistfully, for Craigie is not only good, but also ungodly expensive, at least at my pay grade.  But I saved my pennies, and the day finally came where I was able to finally sit and eat (and eat, and eat, ha).  My brother and I both celebrated our birthdays here (he's February, I'm March) - and it was absolutely worth it.


We started out the meal with a cocktail --- I chose a drink called "Through the Looking Glass."  I was a bit shocked when an almost antifreeze-colored drink arrived to the table.  As someone who actually knows a fair amount about cocktails, it was a little unnerving to read a cocktail menu where I was only familiar with about 20% of the ingredients, so I just went for it and guessed.  My drink had Suze Gentian aperitif, Beefeater gin, dolin blanc, and tarragon. I was thinking okay, gin, tarragon, I can go for that.  But upon tasting the cocktail, oof.  Bitter, very bitter.  I found out later after some googling that Suze Gentian is a very bitter aperitif made from the gentian flower.  Gentian is also the fourth ingredient in your standard Angostura bitters.

image courtesy of Parish Hall

"Long the workhorse of the gentian family, Suze is also the most acquired taste. When sipped solo, we found the bitter finish overpowering--and it lingered for hours."  
Thanks to Tasting Tables Drinking the Top Shelf for confirming I am not a complete wuss.

Dolin Blanc, on the other hand, seems more my speed, apparently it's the St. Germain of vermouth, and I love elderflower, so I'm betting I would have loved a glass of that, neat.

General point of all this?  Ask your server for recommendations.  I would never have ordered that drink elsewise, but as luck would have it, the bitterness was a good foil for the rich meal. 

I didn't take all that many photos, mostly because it was fairly dark in the restaurant - but to recap:

First course - amuse bouche trio of fish
a rillette with a bagel chip (basically, the world's best tuna salad)
trout with roe
pickled mackerel (really fishy, not my thing)

Siblings!  So excited for our birthday dinner.

Second course - three pieces of tuna sashimi with pickled plums in a citrus and mustard sauce

Third course - slow-cooked salmon in a clam chowder broth (melt-in-your-mouth fish with lovely perfectly cooked baby turnips)

Fourth course - Homemade rye fusili with mushrooms and trotters (yes, those be pig's feet - it wasn't bad!)

Our fifth course was presented by Tony Maws himself, the head chef of Craigie on Main.  The course began with three small slices of perfectly cooked venison leg.  This won the prize for best bite of the trip here, from both of us -- it was buttery, warm, the most lovely meaty taste without being too gamey - I'm just so disappointed that venison leg is a very difficult-to-find cut of meat.  There was also a venison sausage with a roiboos-infused chutney that was also just so wonderful. 

We also went for broke and decided to have the bone marrow with toast, because when else do you get a chance to try such things?  Marrow, when it comes out, it looks gross.  If you think about it too much, it's gross.  But on crunchy toast, wow.  Wow.  Fatty and delicious. 

A much needed palate cleanser - grapefruit campari sorbet

Sixth course - dessert!

Beignets with a cream sauce

Citrus curd panna cotta with yuzu drops and an anise-torched meringue. 

And desserts just kept coming!  They served us these lovely little pots of hot chocolate with almond biscotti, and finally Moroccan-spiced chocolate truffles.

If you're curious as to how much all this cost, with the six course chef's tasting menu, a cocktail each, and a well-deserved tip (our servers were funny, attentive, and very good at their jobs) - it came down to $320 for the two of us.  Not an everyday meal, but worth every penny.

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