Beef cheeks are braised until meltingly tender, the rich liquid enhanced by the rendered fat from the beef. If you're lucky, you'll get there on a day when they couple the beef cheeks with a few chunks of corned beef tongue. Tiny cubes of potatoes, turnips, celery root, squash, and onions are roasted until deeply browned, and the whole mess is topped with a perfectly poached egg.
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Roast pork, three cheeses, and it's toasted in butter? Overkill you say? Please.
The brunch at Craigie on Main has a lot to commend it. Not in the least are these cake doughnuts, which are fried to order to ensure a thick, even, and golden brown crust.
With 15 chefs cooking 15 courses for Clio's 15th Anniversary dinner, if food is really the new rock (as some claim it to be) and chefs the new rockstars, this was like the Bonnaroo of meals. That would make me the roadie of the meal, lending a hand here and there, mostly just honored to work with such talent. Take a behind-the-scenes look at all the action and the food.
Last week, I issued a challenge to Tony Maws, the chef at Craigie on Main in Cambridge: serve a multi-course tasting menu to myself and my meat-eating father, without letting him catch on that there is no meat in his food. The whole goal was to prove to him—a hardcore meat eater—that food can be every bit as diverse, flavorful, and satisfying whether it's got meat in it or not.
My dad is what you'd call a meatatarian. He's always loved all things meaty, the fattier the better. Aged rib eye steaks and medium-rare prime rib covered in compound butter. Foie gras seared until crisp with a liquid custard center. Pork belly confit'ed in its own fat, served deep fried and crispy. Slabs of fat-laced tuna belly. Grilled hamachi collar bones. Potatoes cooked in goose fat. Peking duck with crispy skin, and anything served with bacon. You get the idea. Why am I telling you this? Because here is my goal: I'm going to get my dad to eat an entirely vegan meal without even noticing it.
This, folks, is the Craigie on Main burger served at Tony Maws' restaurant in Central Square, Cambridge. It's one of the finest versions of chopped-beef-on-bun you will find anywhere, and it's no accident that it is.
To eat at Craigie on Main is to witness a chef (Tony Maws) at the top of his game. As the waiters recite the composition of each dish, the ingredient lists may seem unlikely (pork heart and sea urchin) or precious (foam, really?) or unfamiliar (yuzu kosho). But on the plate, it all makes sense, every bite; whimsically inventive dishes seem natural and focused. It's like watching a juggler with seven balls in the air—the more that's tossed in, the more difficult it is to keep a rhythm, to present a coherent show. But Maws nails it.
Note: The Burger Lab writer J. Kenji Lopez-Alt weighs in this week with his 5 favorite burgers in Boston. "Anyone who doesn't think that their home town has the best hamburger place in the world is a sissy."—Calvin Trillin [Photographs:...
Photograph by Kenji Alt. Food writer Kenji Alt continues his coverage of serious burger-making tips and burger porn with his latest post on GoodEater.org, where he shows us the secrets behind the $18 local grass-fed burger from Craigie on...