Saturday, October 22, 2005

Craigie Street Bistrot

This is a bit of a departure, but I just can't help myself. We had an excellent dinner out last night at Craigie Street Bistrot in Cambridge. It's in the basement of an apartment building in the middle of a residential neighborhood just off Harvard Square, a totally unassuming address. The room is small with windows at right at the ceiling but it's painted light neutral colors to keep the walls from closing in. There is a teeny little bar area with two tables and a very short counter that is actually a bit claustrophobic as it's right by the kitchen and the front door.

You can read for yourself the restaurant's philosophy on the website so I won't reiterate it here; I'll just tell you what we ate! I had a great, but suprisingly large, appetizer of braised boneless veal shank with veal sweetbreads, which looked and tasted like they had been very lightly breaded, in a bone marrow and Jerusalem artichoke sauce with mushrooms and fresh white truffle shavings. I ate so slowly because I just didn't want it to end. What a lovely dish. I have to say, as an American without much experience in eating offal, those 'wobbly bits' sometimes get to me, but the sweetbreads were firm enough and the combination of the shank (it was practically confit) worked. My husband had a duck-broth based soup with chesnuts, little gnocchi and confit of duck tongue and gizzards. More wobbly bits, but again not so overtly wobbly. I had a taste and it was yummy, and he stopped just short of slurping the last bit right out of the bowl.

For my entree, I had duck two ways - a confit and some sliced breast with some little carrots and turnips and parsnips in a glaze, and what the menu called buckwheat polenta. I still need to parse that, but whatever it was, it was good! Again, it was a pretty large serving for such a slavishly French restaurant; I couldn't get through it all. Although I do eat a lot more slowly at restaurants like this, where I order food I haven't yet cooked at home, trying to figure out how the dishes were prepared. Maybe I just got full because I took so long to get through it. My huband had a marinated hangar steak that was good but the rarest medium rare we've ever seen. The flavor was really good though, and it came with some bone marrow (more wobbly bits) presented in a bone about three inches long, cut lengthwise. He scooped the marrow out and ate it with the steak, and proceeded to clean his plate.

This was our second time at this place, and we'll go back, but here were a few things I would comment on - the medium rare steak was too rare, the staff was very professional but very distracted (yes it was the Friday night of Head of the Charles weekend but still), and the cloth napkins were too starchy.

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