>> Tuesday, January 15, 2013
It's probably the most famous and sought-after burger in Boston, and maybe even the nation. (!)
It's got bone marrow and dehydrated miso mixed into the grass-fed meat. The homemade ketchup is laced with nutmeg. And the entire patty is cooked to a precise temperature with a C-vap oven before being seared a la plancha.
It's one heck of a burger.
In fact, there was a time not too long ago when the burger became so popular that it "disappeared" from the regular menu at Craigie on Main. Food and Wine Magazine had just named it one of the best 25 burgers in the U.S. Other media outlets were praising it left and right. Diners poured into Craigie on Main, all hoping to try a bite of that ethereal burger.
It became crazy. Chef Tony Maws just could not keep up with the demand. He sources his meat from two very small farms and he was unwilling to sacrifice quality for the sake of meeting the demand.
So instead, it quietly disappeared from the menu. Diners could still order it at the bar, but there were only a limited amount of burgers available per day.
We had friends that went at 6:00 PM once only to find out the burgers were already gone. It was so discouraging, I decided not to even try to fight the crowds for that elusive burger.
Instead, I took another, possibly lesser known route.
I went during Sunday brunch, the one day it's a guaranteed menu item.
Bryan and I stopped by Craigie on Main for brunch a couple Sundays ago. It had been a few years since I had tried the burger, and I was curious what the brunch version was like.
The burger ($17) itself is just as delicious as I remembered it. The patty is gorgeously juicy and flavorful - all around perfect, really. At brunch you have the option of adding a fried egg on top, which we did. It makes the burger horrendously messy to eat (see top photo, where the egg yolk just oozes all over the place), but it's totally worth it.
Additionally, the fries during brunch look more like thick home fries instead of the shoestring fries that normally come with the burger.
Finally, the brunch burger is a bit smaller in size than the normal bar version, which is totally fine with me. We had no trouble finishing it.
Though the burger is famous and an obvious dish to try, I must say everything we had at Craigie on Main was excellent. The side of Smoked Pork Belly ($8) was juicy, smoky, and beautifully charred.
I absolutely loved the Grass-Fed Beef Cheek, Brisket, and Smoked Beef Tongue Hash ($18), which came with crispy onion strings and a farm fresh fried egg on top. I was extremely impressed with the attention to detail of every single component of this dish. Each small cube of potato seemed to be cut the exact same size. The texture of the waxy potatoes was perfect (perhaps made using sous vide? It was almost eerily perfect), and the melt-in-your-mouth beef was flavorful and super soft. I loved this dish, maybe even more than the burger!
Bryan ordered a Bloody Mary and I seriously think it's the best Bloody Mary I've ever tasted (yes, significantly better than the one Bryan made at East Coast Grill a few weeks back, which was already very good). I just couldn't get over the intense and real tomato flavor in the base, which added so much deep complexity to the drink. Unlike most Bloody Mary drinks, this one did not need to be that salty. The other strong components provided plenty of depth and flavor to the drink.
Overall, Tony Maws did not disappoint at all. He seeks perfection in everything he does, and it really shows.
I can't wait to come back.
Craigie on Main
Cambridge, MA 02139