Bar Bites at Craigie on Main
Just an average night at your friendly neighborhood bar – a couple of cocktails, some crusty bread with butter, and a few bar bites: a darn fine grass-fed beef burger with a mound of shoestring potatoes, some crispy-fried pigtails (fat tails, but not curly tails), and earthy, gelatinous bone marrow. Oh did I say average? Scratch that. There’s nothing average about Craigie on Main.
First of all, the bar bites above will clog up your arteries. The drinks will make you deliriously happy. The prices might make you cry ($20 for a burger??). But it’s good, so good, that you and your friends willingly shell out money to risk high cholesterol levels with those glorious bites, which you wash down with seriously sublime cocktails. You might hog most of the salad greens that came with the burger, because you’re so desperate for something healthy, to balance out all the richness. Then you will loosen up and realize you’re out to enjoy a night with friends, and you relish each small, velvety bite. You laugh out loud, smile at the pleasant server, and dig in.
start with the 1771 cocktail (cardamom, lime, grapefruit, sparkling wine)
pick out the multigrain roll from the bread basket (even if the other white breads are tempting you) and spread with some fresh unsalted butter
chow down on the Asian-flavored pig tails, which weren’t crispy (as the menu boasts), but still marvelous
try the bone marrow special
then get to THE BURGER: the burger that beats all the other bar burgers by a long shot
end the meal with a seasonal dessert: sheep’s milk cheesecake with pine nuts and a tequila-blackberry jam
I haven’t had pig tails in years, and I was delighted by this dish at Craigie on Main. Pig tails are a Filipino delicacy, usually in stews, but the pig’s tail is also one of the most coveted parts of the lechon. It made me miss my family’s cooking, even though I’ve never had it cooked this way before (with pickled peanuts, nuoc cham, cilantro, and whispers of onions strings on top). They’re small, like cute baby ox tails – let’s hope PETA isn’t reading this – and enough for 3 people to share (it is so rich that you wouldn’t want to eat more than a couple of pieces). Our server advised us to not be shy and to use our hands while eating, but it was so tender that the meat easily fell of the small bones.
The bone marrow on the other hand was almost too rich. And too bland. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love bone marrow. Especially with some nice gremolata spinkled on top, and spread on toast points. But the bone marrow special at Craigie on Main didn’t seem as special as the ones from KO Prime (one of my very favorite restaurants in Boston). In fact, it left me a little queasy. It was definitely a bad decision to order both the pig tails and the bone marrow – let’s hope no doctor is reading this – but we all really wanted to try both. Next time we’re sticking with the tails.
And the burger. We’re definitely sticking with the burger. Juicy, tender, with the perfect balance of spices in the meat and simple toppings that enhance each bite. Grass-fed beef may be ridiculously expensive but it is well worth it. People have waxed poetic about the Craigie Burger and now I am jumping on the band wagon understand why: it has great umami flavors and is satisfyingly beefy. It tastes rich but not cloying, different yet familiar, simple but gourmet. If Anthony Bourdain and the Barefoot Contessa had a love child, it might be this burger.
Overall, I really like Craigie on Main. Even though we only had the bar bites, and I wasn’t too keen on the bone marrow, we still left very satisfied. And ending with dessert always makes for a happy meal. Next time, I would love to try a tasting menu or the Chef’s Whim Sunday Prix Fixe:
we’re already planning our next visit
Have you been the Craigie on Main? Ever had pig tails or bone marrow?