Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Off the Map: Have You Any Needs for a Chicken Carcass?

Whole Roasted Chicken: Craigie on Main, Cambridge, MA
Craigie on Main

Vodka makes it from the front door of o ya in Boston to our table at Craigie on Main in Cambridge in exactly 23 minutes, impressive when you consider that Vodka is not from Boston, does not quite understand their public transportation system, and still believes that Cambridge consists only of Harvard's campus.  We believe this is proof that Vodka can get just about anywhere in a very limited amount of time if armed with her iPhone map and the knowledge that dinner awaits her.
Especially When the Promised Dinner Proves to Be Excessive
Vodka and her hosts have all met at Craigie in order to indulge in Alex Guarnaschelli's SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE Best Thing I Ever Ate dish of the whole roasted misty knoll chicken, which is served with vidalia onions, pea greens, forked potatoes, and chanterelle jus (with a recommended serving size for two).
Apparently, One Person Is Not Supposed to Consume a Whole Chicken for Dinner. Good to Know
Because Craigie on Main changes their menu daily, Vodka has inquired no less than three times in the past few days to confirm that this chicken will be on the menu tonight, so she is probably now on the Boston Most Wanted List as a chaser of both expensive mushrooms and chickens.
And Also As a Person Who Photographs Appealing Water Bottles
To begin the meal, we are given a bread basket of triangular shaped bread with a matching dish of triangular butter: amuse bouche of geometric patterns, if you will.
Triangle Observation Courtesy of Nerds R Us
The bread tastes suspiciously similar to loaves you would find at Panera Bread, though we don't think "Grilled Spanish Octopus" can be found along the Panera salad bar, so the similarities between the two establishments ends there.
We Hear There Are Seven More Plates Where This Came From...
In fact, the grilled Spanish octopus is what Vodka's friend orders for her appetizer, while the friend's husband chooses the beet salad (while neither octopus nor beets is an ingredient that would make Vodka say "Let me choose that!" both are tasty if you like those sorts of things).
Beets in Non-Borscht Form
Unlike the food items, the cocktail menu might as well be written in tongues for our lack of ability to understand it.  Vodka cannot even tell if any of the cocktails contain vodka, and when the waiter points out the one that does, she dismisses it when she sees that it also includes sage ("I'm not a big fan of herbs in my drinks," she states.  The herbacious mojito at Daddy-O taught her this lesson).  Finding no cocktails to her liking, she asks her new favorite question of whether or not Craigie serves flavored vodka.  They do not.  Therefore, she asks for a plain vodka soda with a squeeze of lime, while her friends settle for some form of wine and a Dark and Stormy.

The verdict on the cocktails?  Well, frankly, Craigie, stashing some blueberry vodka in your back cabinets wouldn't do much harm now, would it?
If You Get My Drift...
Just before our entrees arrive, our waiter brings out the full cooked chicken for us to ooh and ahh over appropriately, and he asks, with all sincerity, if any of us have a need for a chicken carcass.  We decline his offer, though our initial blank stares cause him to clarify that some customers choose to take the carcass home with them for future use.

I'm sure my friends on the MegaBus would just love if I brought a skeletal chicken along.
Now Doesn't That Look Fragrant?
Minutes later, while her husband digs into his cod (which is flaky and appealingly cooked), my friend and I each receive a plate of nicely assembled chicken breasts piled on top of the dish's plethora of sides. The chicken itself is ideally brown and tender, if a bit disarmingly pink on the inside (though the texture reveals that it is indeed done, despite its appearance).
Lumpy Potatoes - Parc, Please Take Note
Taking the first few bites, my friend is convinced that there is peanut butter coating the skin, a flavor which I pick up on only once in dozens of mouthfuls, so either she received the peanut butter half of the bird or she secretly had a PB and J for lunch, and it is just now rearing its head on the proceedings.
You Say Peanut Butter, I Say Crazy
The chicken meat itself is unbelievably moist and succulent - it is indeed just about the most perfect roast chicken one could ask for, and it is far and away superior to the one Booze Before Books was served at Barbuto.
Not to Mention That We Can Hear Ourselves Think
The accompanying plate of wings and legs are also quite enjoyable, if even pinker than the breasts.  And of the accompanying sides, the potatoes stand out as being chock full of chunky happiness, a direct contrast to the baby food consistency of Parc's potatoes and much closer to Vodka's ideal texture.
Hey Chicken, Lay of the Rouge Next Time
However, despite the fact that this chicken is pretty much the best you can find, I can't quite bring myself to give it 5 stars for a few reasons:

1. It is, at $74, hardly a bargain, even when split between two people.
2. While I would come back to Craigie on Main to eat, I wouldn't insist on eating the chicken again.  In fact, I'd probably insist on trying something else, simply because...
3. is still JUST A CHICKEN.  We don't like to order chicken.  Chicken is boring.  We can make chicken ourselves.  So yes, Craigie on Main's is the most delicious variety to date, but they can't overcome the mere nature of the ingredient itself.

And to be honest, a flavored vodka or two wouldn't have hurt either.

Craigie on Main's Whole Roasted Chicken: 4 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment