Craigie on Main is two different experiences in one. There’s the Craigie on Main you find in the main dining room - an upscale restaurant for date nights, birthdays, or whenever you want fine dining that’s just a little more fun. And then there’s the Craigie on Main you find at 5:30pm in the bar, when crowds descend in a frantic attempt to land one of Craigie’s (not so) secret limited burgers, which, judging by the lengths people are willing to go to get them, promise never-ending happiness and/or better skin.
Let other people hunt the trophy burger. You should be in the main dining room, enjoying the rare white tablecloth restaurant that’s also a lot of fun.
Here’s what you need to know about the burger: they only make 18 of them a night, and they only serve them at the bar. It doesn’t matter if it’s a rainy Tuesday in November - if you want one, you’re going to have to leave work early, hope the Red Line doesn’t pull a Red Line on you, and wait outside with 30 other people before the restaurant opens at 5:30. As for how it actually tastes? It’s good. But it’s also slightly overcooked, and a little dry, and while there appears to be cheese on the patty, you can’t really taste it, which, unlike alcohol in a cocktail, isn’t usually what you’re looking for in a burger. In other words: this thing isn’t worth waiting outside in the cold for.
The main dining room, on the other hand, is where you should be heading the next time you’re looking for a fancy-ish dinner that, thanks to an open kitchen and a great cocktail list, is also a genuinely great time. This is the part of Craigie where you’ll eat locally-sourced dishes like Duxbury oysters, Essex clams, and Maine lamb. Unless Dunks starts selling codfish munchkins, it’s about as New England as a restaurant can get.
You can also opt into the nightly chef’s whim tasting menu. Since we screw up enough decisions in our everyday lives, we love relinquishing control to the kitchen. That said, a lot of our favorite dishes are only available either a la carte or on the prix fixe menu - including butter poached cod, duck fat brussels sprouts, and a roasted pig’s head. Whether you go with the tasting menu, the prixe fixe, or a few a la carte options, you won’t be able to decide which dish was the best.
If you still feel like you have to try the burger, we’re not going to stand in your way. In the category of Boston-area bar burgers that are only available from 5:30-6:00 and can potentially get you in trouble with your boss for leaving early, it’s clearly the best. But at least try to visit Craigie at a decent hour the next time, when you can relax and explore the menu. You’ll lose the rush of chasing after a trophy burger like Indiana Jones hunting for the Ark of the Covenant, but you’ll get to have some pretty awesome fried clams instead.
Served with cucumbers, chiles, and a melon gaspacho, this crudo would be the perfect thing to eat immediately after a long run on a summer day. They probably won’t let you in the restaurant with sweat dripping off your Under Armour, though, so you’ll just have to pretend you exercised beforehand.
If you’ve ever eaten fried clams on the beach and wondered whether they’d taste as good without the warm salt air and crashing surf, wonder no more. These might be the best fried clams in the state that invented fried clams.
Yes, it’s possible that if you look directly into the eye of the pig before eating it, you’ll be cursed by a pork ghost and forever lose the ability to taste bacon. That’s a risk you’re going to have to take.
The roasted loin pulls off the upset by besting the slow-cooked belly in this lamb two ways.
In the category of Boston-area bar burgers that are only available from 5:30-6:00 and can potentially get you in trouble with your boss for leaving early, it’s clearly the best. It’s not really worth the hassle if you broaden the category any further, though.