On Wednesday, I stopped into Craigie on Main for the first time in almost 6 weeks. That is the longest span I have gone without eating or drinking there in close to two years.
And for exactly that reason, I almost never write about Craigie . I am so acutely and clearly biased that any review would be highly suspect. And I feel (perhaps naively) emotionally connected enough to the staff that, despite their semi-public existence, talking about them feels a little like talking about family.
However, two of the conversations I had on Wednesday night made me think that the curiously deep, warm affection I have for the place is exactly the reason I should write about it. Moreover, it is exactly the reason you should go experience the place.
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with New York City. I thought it was all fancy hotels; friendly, chivalrous doormen; and the world’s best food. From too many movies, illustrations, books and my own imagination I had built a beautiful escapist ideal of a city where my favorite music was playing all the time, everyone was festive and friendly, and every doorway led to somewhere welcoming and warm (in the hearth and the heart).
I grew up and reconciled with reality, but I never gave up a (near constant) soul level yearning for that tetrafecta of music, friends, food and warmth. Most of the happiest hours of my life involve great music (typically jazz) in the air over a kitchen full of the easiest, most jovial friends. We are all laughing, drinking, eating, cooking, dancing. And we have all said yes to the invitation of the moment: forget that there is anything but this rich, merry now.
Because I think of the staff as friends; because the playlist (jazz) is full of old friends; because you can hear, smell, see, and feel the throb of the kitchen; because the people who come there are all forgetting that there is anything but the rich, merry now, Craigie on Main answers that ideal for me. So I go whenever I need that feeling in my life. I am, unfailingly, greeted warmly, treated well and sent away with a happier heart.
Okay, but you’re not me. The Craigie environment, might not scratch that itch for you. Heck, you might not even have that itch. So why should you go?
Like that saying, ‘if you want something done right ask a busy person,’ Craigie strives to do well by every patron. They devote energy and attention to keeping the affections of those they have already won over, imagine what they are going to do to win the affections of those they are still wooing. Go. Get wooed.
Leaving it at the door. To borrow their words, Craigie is aiming for champagne and caviar tastes in jeans and t-shirt comfort. The service here is pampering without being obsequious. Your meal will be served at a leisurely pace. They make every effort to make your only job enjoying your meal. It’s kind of like being at a spa where all the treatments are food and libations. You cannot help but relax. And you should. Go. Let everything else fall away while you do nothing but be alive and in pleasure.
Oh, and it bears iterating: the food is very, very good.