First Taste: Craigie On Main

craigie on main

Chef Tony Maws has successfully transplanted the heart and soul of his tiny basement restaurant (Craigie Street Bistrot) to a larger ground-level space across town, previously home of the venerable La Groceria. Renamed Craigie On Main, the new place is a gleaming custom build-out with a swank look and numerous upgrades, including tons more seating, a full-service bar, and a humongous open kitchen. The overall vibe of the new spot hums with much more excitement than the old one—though there is a certain starchiness present, a buttoned-up intensity that tussles with the restaurant’s relaxed, neighborhood-y feel.

But any fussy seriousness is easy to ignore once the food starts arriving. Maws continues doing what he does best, preparing seasonal/local (ish) product with utmost reverence using classic French technique (the Vermont Organic Pork Two Ways: Crispy Suckling Confit and Slow-Roasted Belly is a phenomenally unctuous display of swine). And as it’s always been, his charcuterie is spot on; even the dainty slices of house-made rabbit sausage—the garnish for a puréed Macomber turnip soup with curry oil—are extraordinary. My favorites though are Maws’s most basic preparations; the Crispy-Fried Nova Scotia Smelts, served with a squid ink anchoïade, are stupidly simple and tasty as hell.

Another bonus: the bar room. It dons a jovial scene and a serious cocktail list—each sip of the Northern Lights, concocted of elderberry liqueur, Scotch, lime juice, and bitters, unfolds into a new spectrum of refreshing flavors. But the biggest improvement in the new place truly is the increased capacity. Now, more people have more access to Maws’s superb cooking.

Craigie On Main 853 Main St., Cambridge, MA (617-497-5511;

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