...i accidentally erased this review the first time i wrote it...so frustrating!
anyway, i went to dinner at craigie street bistrot with my mom, fiance, and friend sunday night. we went at 9PM to take advantage of the "chef's whim" offer, and i think it was one of great gourmet meals available in boston at a reasonable price. At $30 for three or four courses (i think they advertise 3, but we got 4), it is a wonderful meal for adventurous eaters. i was a little afraid that it was an excuse for the chef to use the weekend's leftovers...and maybe he does to an extent, but the veggies and seafood were super-fresh. in fact, the flavorful veggies were the best part of the meal!
i haven't seen a post in a while about it, so here is a brief recap of the chef's whim concept. sunday nights, after 9:00, you can go in and order the chef's whim menu and you are at the mercy of the chef. they ask about food allergies, but other than that, the servers don't know what is coming till the chef has prepared the dish. and i think everyone at the table gets the same menu.
overall, it is very well executed. the veggies were wonderful -- everything from great baby carrots to the things i hadn't tried before (cartume?). the flavors were unique and it was nice to try some things i wouldn't normally order. the wines were good values, the waiter was knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and the value was dead-on.
we started with an "assiette" of vegetables with a poached farmer's egg on top, and an asparagus puree below. cutting into the egg was the fun part -- the very yellow-y yoke drips into the veggies and asparagus puree, blending nice flavors. there was artichoke, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, and cartume - a veggie that looks like celery but tastes like artichokes with lemon. the impressive part of the dish was the texture of the veggies - not crunchy, not mushy...and the dish was seasoned correctly. i have been to a few places lately that screwed this up...a definite faux-pas that seems to be forgotten on occasion.
next up with another melange - this time of seafood - scallop, shrimp, clams, and cockles. the scallop was cooked nicely - rare - not rubbery at all. the sauce was like a fish stock and butter reduction - i think they called it a bouillabaise but i'm not sure. it wasn't soupy, but it did have that flavor. i'm not sure if other like cockles but these were a little different -- they didn't have the taste of the ocean, which is usually what I associate with them, but they also didn't have the grainy taste i remember. kinda rubbery like calamari...but fine.
next up was sweetbreads and veal kidneys. the waiter warned us that kidneys might be on the menu... it was interesting to try them, but they were a little pink for my tastes. you could taste the flavor of kidneys - you either like them or you don't, kinda like chicken livers. anyway, they were good, but not great. the sweetbreads, on the other hand, were just right. juicy, but cooked all the way through. combined with the sauteed wild mushrooms and pureed parsnips/potatoes, it was a dynamite bite in your mouth. really felt like french bistro food at that point.
for dessert, they sent out four different desserts and we rotated them every couple minutes. one was a rhubard soup (a little too sweet to take more than one bite). the others were all sinfully good - their version of an ice cream sandwich with chocolate mint ice cream, a market fruits crisp, and mini beignets. all delicious - and the ice cream they make is even better. the beignets, especially were perfect little circles - airy and sugary - didn't feel like you were consuming massive amounts of calories.
on top of the food, we had two nice wines -- a beaujolais that the waiter recommended -- very nice with the food, a little spicy but not too much fruit -- Bernard Lavis "les Moriers". and then a half bottle of Henri Bourgeois Sancerre - a nice accompaniment for the first two courses. both wines were a reasonable price - about the normal 100% mark-up.
great meal - will be back again soon.