Feast: Craigie on Main
You don’t need to know what Tony Maws looks like to know he’s the chef at Craigie on Main. Authority, annoyance, and perfectionism ooze from his blue apron. I’m guessing he either wrote the punchy “No Compromise” edict on the stainless steel work station (below), or fired whoever did, leaving it up as a reminder for the rest.
Craigie on Main has been star in Boston for years, but I’d never heard about the highly sought after “chef’s counter” seating until a few nights ago. Dave and I jumped at the chance opening to sit just inches from the kitchen staff, watching every dish primped and poked to excellence. A call for “12 oysters!” had someone racing to a clock hung on the wall, setting it for 2 minutes to ensure everything was timed perfectly. Numerous small arguments broke out among the crew throughout the evening: “You’re burning the toast/That’s a long minute and a half/This sauce is too loose” – until Maws corralled them all with a refined yet firm dressing down. Sitting at the chef’s counter is exhilarating, and terrifying – it turns the eight course tasting menu into a giant bag of movie popcorn, eaten while cringing when your favorite character sets a napkin on fire, or crashes into the dishwasher.
A trio of fish – halibut, salmon, and sardine – was followed by scallop crudo and fried salmon roe. Soft shell crab followed, as did watercress and potato vichyssoise with sweetbreads. Pig heart ragu on homemade casarecce was one of my favorites, but the lamb rib with burnt caramel sauce had it slightly edged out. Venison and marrow bones (brought over by the intimidating Maws himself) finished the savory portion of the meal, but an herb granite with melon gelee showed up before dessert. Panna cotta, chocolate cake with ice cream, peanuts, and chocolate sauce (was too full to get more substantial details), and white asparagus ice cream in rhubarb sauce finished off the meal.
The food was phenomenal, but the real star was the floor show. Craigie, I’ll see you, and hopefully your hardworking staff, very soon.