"Special" holiday menus (a return visit to Craigie on Main) [MA, Cambridge]


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We tend to be skeptical when it comes to special Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day brunch menus. Of course there’s the genunine opportunity to offer something unique, but as often as not the main reason places offer a special (and limited) menu is to avoid slamming the back of the house on a busy day.

With that in mind I decided to book a table for Mother’s Day brunch at Craigie on Main, as it appeared they were offering brunch as usual. Note to self - absence of confirmation of a special menu is not confirmation of the status quo. I received a call on Saturday letting me know there would be a special prix fixe menu. Of course too late to book a comparable alternative, so we went anyway.
There had been no indication on their web site, OT, or their FB page (save for a mention of 2016 Mother’s Day in an old post). Rookie mistake on my part - if it matters, call and confirm!

All that said, we had a delightful meal and were reminded why Tony Maws and Craigie on Main have established themselves as stars in the regional food firmament. To start, a choice of a champagne mango smoothie or yogurt with granola (c’mon, why not just say it? yogurt two ways!). The smoothie was a nice refresher, though my SO enjoyed the yogurt. Oh, and a Mother Dearest cocktail (very appropriately named), a gussied up Aperol spritz, was quite nice too. The mimosa was a bit on the sweet side. Not so the wonderful rhubarb compote (with a bit of strawberry?), an excellent companion to the flaky biscuit and excellent butter. Mains we tried were a carb/avacado toast, a riff on shrimp and grits, and fried pork belly and egg. The grits won out by a nose, though all three were enjoyed. The crab was a generous heap over smashed avocado on a hearty Korean bread (not sure what made it Korean). Deserts were a pavlova or dense chocolate cake accompanied by bananas and caramel and ice cream. The pavlova was a beautiful presentation but the chocolate cake etc. more interesting.

Earl grey tea and an excellent drip coffee (didn’t note the beans/roast/grind, but very savory) and grappa to wrap up. A bit surprised that Craigie had only 2 grappas on offer, a Clear Creek and an Italian I wasn’t familiar with (when I asked if it was akin to rocket fuel the waiter suggested the Clear Creek). Not that hard to get smooth grappas these days, folks - Poli is everywhere, not to mention Gaja, Sassicaia, Tignanello, … or even Berta.

So despite our aversion to special Mother’s Day menus, we really enjoyed the meal.
A few final thoughts about Craigie - the front-of-house and wait staff is superb, very attentive and solicitous. The room is very pleasant - we sat at a comfortable leather banquet in the bar with room for three of us - but I think the institutional suspended ceiling should be retired.