Restaurant Week is always an iffy proposition: You get to eat a meal at a good restaurant for around $40, but the menu is either restricted to a few items, or is “specially created” for the event. I have avoided these offers until this month, when Craigie on Main offered its “Neighborhood Menu” as a substitute for the usual Restaurant Week bait-and-switch. We could have a three-course meal – choice of two appetizers, two entrées, and two desserts from the regular daily menu for $40.
She Who Must Be Obeyed and I decided to take He Who Will Not Be Ignored with us and expose him to a dining environment a bit more refined that whet he had experienced in the past. In order to keep his interest, I booked one of the high tables near the kitchen so he could see how his food was being prepared. That I would also get to see the kitchen in action on a busy weekday evening was a side benefit — at least that’s what I told a skeptical She Who.
We had agreed that He Who would get to chose whatever he wanted from the menu as long as he understood that there would be no additions or substitutions. We also quickly discovered that while that evening’s choices for the Neighborhood Menu looked good, we saw other, more interesting choices elsewhere on the menu. Here’s what we ate:
Compliments of the chef, we were offered salmon tartare with caviar
… and “sopressata” with baby potato. He Who loved this one (“tastes like pepperoni!”).
House-made Pâté de Campagne: traditional accompaniments
Ragoût of Forest Mushrooms, Chicken Wing Confit, and Boudin Noir: farro risotto, farm-fresh poached egg, broccoli purée, herbs, flowers
This was He Who’s choice, they had him at “chicken wing.” He (predictably) didn’t eat the broccoli, but loved the boudin noir. I didn’t explain that he had eaten blood sausage until we returned home; his response was “cool!”
Whole-Roasted Misty Knoll Chicken for Two: cranberry beans, amaranth greens, natural jus
This dish was cut and plated for us, but they also gave us a platter with the carcass, legs, wings, and a pitcher of jus. (We took the carcass and extremities home after the meal.) I thought I knew how to roast a chicken. This was better, due in some part to the chicken itself.
Vermont Organic Pork Three Ways: Spice-Crusted Rib, Crispy Suckling Confit, Grilled Belly: farro verde, sumer vegetables, kohlrabi purée
He Who demolished this dish. The only thing he left behind was the kohlrabi purée, which looked suspiciously like broccoli.
Roasted Bone Marrow: grilled country bread
Not on the menu, but offered as a side dish. How could we refuse?
Taza Chocolate Tart: hazelnuts, espresso ice cream
The tart was made with our distinctive local chocolate, the ice cream wasn’t overly sweet, a perfect balance.
Creamy Grits Brulée: blackberry compote, lemon thyme ice cream, powdered brown butter
I had never considered grits to be a dessert item, this dish proved me wrong. I recognized the “powdered” brown butter as a liquid nitrogen preparation from my classes a few weeks earlier.
Sour Milk Panna Cotta: banana-muscovado purée, oatmeal crumble, powdered brown butter
This was a complimentary dessert, which we could barely finish, but it was still very tasty.
Apart from the delicious meal, we learned that He Who Will Not Be Ignored now has enough patience to sit through a meal at a fine dining establishment without the distraction of electronic entertainment. We had an earlier data point, but we were concerned that the sheer novelty of that dinner worked in his favor. Now that he knows how to comport himself, the possibilities for a family dinner out have greatly expanded. Perhaps a trip to Momofuku is in our future.