Craigie on Main, Cambridge- Burger & Brunch

Craigie on Main is a new American bistro located in Cambridge that emphasizes  tasting menus, nose-to-tail dining with local, seasonal ingredients and also has a nationally recognized burger. Much of the Craigie burger’s popularity is built on the fact that every component made in house- from bun to ground meat to ketchup. Much more is a result of its scarcity- 18 burgers are only available in the bar each night. One way to get around the nightly 18 burger limit is to order one during Sunday brunch. Brunch is a very popular meal at Craigie. We arrived a little early and because the restaurant space is small, the waiting area is non-existent. Since it was a beautiful day, we waited outside, however, when the weather is not so cooperative, standing around by the door in the bar would be difficult. If you haven’t been, it truly is a spectacular space despite the size with the open kitchen right when you walk in, well lit, and very appealing.

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Bloody Mary 10
Hemingway’s favorite Corpse Reviver
Choice of spicy vodka, gin, tequila, vegetable-infused vodka, gin

I started out with my favorite brunch drink, the Bloody Mary with spicy vodka. This is a Bloody Mary with lots of vegetable matter floating in it. It’s plenty spicy, lots of grated, fresh horse radish, and ginger, as well. I really liked how intense and real the tomato flavor was in the base, which made the drink so much more complex. The spicy zip was just what I wanted and for someone who enjoys spicy foods, very delicious but not over powering.

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Local Grass-Fed Beef Burger 17
Shelburne Farm cheddar, mace ketchup, house-made bun, crispy potato fries
add fried egg 3, add house-smoked bacon 3

After trying this burger over the weekend, I can see why it is so popular and one of Boston’s best burgers available. It’s not a creative kind of burger. It’s a burger where all the classic elements are done right. The only thing many people may object to is the cost. Quality anything costs, right? The bun is baked to a dark golden brown right on the premises. There are sesame seeds on top. I’d like it a little better if there were just a little smaller in size and less dense. The burger patty is eight ounces of house ground beef from 2 different small-farm suppliers. Maws utilizes four different beef cuts or parts: beef shortrib, beef suet, flap meat and bone marrow. The proportions are top secret and the components vary slightly depending what is on hand each day. No flat patties here. The thick burger patty arrived cooked exactly to medium rare and gushing beef juices. Flavor includes dehydrated miso for a “subtle” umami flavor boost and some gaminess, which I enjoy.

There is fennel slaw, tart pickles or mace ketchup on the side, ready to be added to your preferences.

Bacon is a $3 option worth considering for its salt and crunch factors but I prefer it without the bacon. Let’s face it, I prefer to drink or have a dessert or two as my extra calories.

The fries are more like potato wedges, crispy and accented with tiny herbs and scallions. The texture was perfect, highlighting the contrast between crunchy shell and mealy interior. Highly enjoyable fries overall. Lightly dressed greens provide a healthy backdrop for the burger’s umami funk.

The burger is the kind of delicious that you remember for days after.

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Grass-Fed Beef Cheek, Brisket, and Smoked Beef Tongue Hash 18
slow-poached farm-fresh egg, crispy onion rings

The hash was one of the best things I ate at brunch besides the burger. Normally hash is tasty diner or hangover breakfast or brunch food. At Craigie, they make it into something special and take the hash to the next level by reinventing it. The melt-in-your-mouth beef was flavorful and spoon-tender soft. There was corned beef, tongue, perfectly diced home fries and fried onion strings on top.

The service at Craigie is impeccable, whether you are in the bar, in the main room or at the chef’s table. This is one the reasons Craigie is always a stand out for me. Everyone we interacted with, was impeccable, attentive, and made us feel like a special meal even if we were just eating burgers and brunch.

Craigie on Main
853 Main Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

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The Kitchen, Boulder

The Kitchen was one the highlights of our visit to Colorado. The space was open, light and beautiful. The food was quality. Yes this is weird, but visit the restroom. We learned that The Kitchen is owned by a former colleague of British Jamie Oliver, and we even loved the Pangea Organics Canadian pine and white sage bathroom soap!

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The chandelier in the enter of the dining room was eye catching and just lovely._MG_5517

We love that The Kitchen donates 20% of sales from Monday night Community Night._MG_5518

We enjoyed a glass of fresh squeezed grapefruit and organic orange half and half per our waitress’s suggestion. It was perfectly sweet and tart for $4.50.

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The highlight of our Colorado visit and the best meal we had was The Kitchen’s Lamb Burger with Colorado lamb, pepper relish, al latte bun and perfectly seasoned steak fries for $15. We got a side of mayo and those fries were some of the best steak fries we have ever eaten. The salad was lemony and lightly dressed, perfect to compliment the juicy slightly sweet burger. Bar none one of the best burgers ever eaten. Best lamb burger ever eaten hands down._MG_5527

The rest of the menu looked so good and we would certainly return to try the rest of the menu another visit.The Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Snooze, Denver

After researching brunch spots, we decided on Snooze, an A.M. Eatery. As we waited for a table, we enjoyed fresh cup of coffee.

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We couldn’t decide on one pancake style so we chose the Pancake Flight and choose three pancake flavors. Our favorite was the Sweet Potato Pancakes. The sweet potato buttermilk pancakes topped with caramel, pecans and ginger butter were out of this world. They were super special and tasty. Our second favorite pancake was the Chestnuts Roastin Pancakes. The buttermilk pancake was filled with spiced pears and topped with roasted chestnut caramel, sweet cream and citrus butter. Finally, we tried the Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes s with caramelized pineapple chunks, vanilla crème anglaise and cinnamon butter.

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We had to order the Sandwich I Am breakfast sandwich. The Udi’s soft pretzel roll was too  much so we took the top off as an open faced sandwich. The eggs, cheddar cheese and a sausage patty was served with a side of smoked cheddar hollandaise and hash browns. That smoked cheddar hollandaise sauce could make cardboard taste delicious. The breakfast sandwich awesome.

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The cornbeef hash was nicely done, the shredded hash mixed with locally made corned beef, caramelized poblanos and onions was topped with two eggs and toast._MG_5445

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Gather, Berkeley

Our colleague mentioned she wanted to visit Gather and we were unanimously interested. The space itself is very interesting, vines hanging in front of the open kitchen and nets from the high ceiling.

_MG_4905_MG_4912We were accidentally served another table’s warm Kale Salad with carrots, pine-nuts, capers, Fiscalini cheese (v, gf) for $11. We would definitely try this one time.

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We enjoyed the Local Lettuces salad with beets, citrus, pistachio, burnt honey vinaigrette, fine herbs (v, gf) for $11. The combination of the sweetness from the red beets and honey along with the citrus was lovely and we loved the texture of the pistachio. This was a solid salad and would order this again. Our only suggestion was more slices of beets and citrus, because we split one slices of beet and citrus amongst three people!

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We deeply enjoyed the Nettle, Ricotta, Etna peppers, Meyer lemon, mint, Lucques olive pizza for $18. The crust was very decorative and shape provided an element of texture. The balance of the ingredients were delicious and we found ourselves having no problem polishing off and wanting to split the final slices.

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Next time we return to Gather (and we will) we will order the egg,  bacon, caramelized onions, oregano pizza for $18 and the Yellow Foot Mushroom Scramble with melted leeks, nettles, thyme, toast (gf) for $14.

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Aquitaine Revisited, South End, Boston

We love stopping by Aquitaine (BMH review of Aquitaine) for the $9.95 prixe fixe brunch. $10 brunch is on Saturdays between 10-3pm and for an hour 10-11AM on Sundays.

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We love when we are served the warm House-Made Cinnamon Bun, unlimited coffee and choice of orange or grapefruit juice along with our eggs.The cinnamon bun is nice and flakey and covered in glaze.

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After chatting about our friend’s recent honeymoon and favorite moments of her wedding, we toasted with belllinis. We are done with our bridesmaids duties. C’est finis! The Bellini with White Peach Puree and Sparkling Wine for $8.00 was a great accompaniment with our breakfast.

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There are two omelettes always ordered la Maison and Alsacienne. The omelette de la Maison with Bacon, Tomatoes, and Gruyere Cheese is served with a side of toast and potatoes.

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The Omelette al Sacienne with Mushrooms, Leeks, and Boursin Cheese was earthy and the creamy tangy cheese was delicious.IMG_3009

We can not get enough of Aquitaine’s brunch. Still good.

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Campton Place Restaurant, Taj Campton, Union Square, San Francisco

Holiday time is here and Union Square was packed. Campton Place Restaurant at the Taj Campton was equally busy. Upon entrance, we noticed all the tired shoppers and hungry diners. We were greeted by very friendly, properly dressed staff and the dining room had an inviting ambiance and the wreaths brought a  touch of holiday cheer. _MG_3665 We decided on the Holiday prixe fixe and a few of our dining companions decided on the wine pairing at an additional $34/person. The restaurant serves New American cuisine with hints of Indian and exotic spices. _MG_3667 The beginning of our meal kicked off with an amuse bouche complimentary of the kitchen. The airy burst of of arugula, apple and avocado foam was a palate awakener. We are huge fans of green smoothies and this was an elegant and refreshing version. _MG_3669The spiced shrimp with young potatoes, mint reliish, yogurt and mustard greens was one of the most elegantly plated dishes we have ever seen. Our dining companions absolutely loved this salad. The shrimp tender and accoutrements very fresh. We absolutely loved the mustard greens and color._MG_3672The butternut squash veloute vanilla and coffee was the least unique dish of all the plates and yet it was still warming and very simple. The hint of vanilla and coffee was fragrant, but ultimately something that will not be savored or ordered again._MG_3674Our favorite dish was the Black Cod Pan Seared with Cauliflowers Composition, Mussels, Red Radish and Coconut Curry. The plate was gorgeous and the curry sauce was flavorful. The black cod was tender and the mussels perfectly cooked. The paper thin radish slices and cauliflower were hints of brightness and offered a bite. The black rice offered great texture and pop. _MG_3676Our dining companion ordered the Liberty Farm Duck “Samosa” Spiced Tomato Butter and Chilled Vegetables. Unfortunately, we did not get the verdict on if he would order it again, but it certainly looked tantalizing._MG_3679We rushed to the Legion of Honor for Rodin’s The Thinker, Royal Treasure from the Louvre and an afternoon of art and an organ concert. Although it doesn’t compare with visiting Musee Rodin itself or Musee d’Orsay, it was a perfect way to “travel” for an afternoon and absorb some culture._MG_3684

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Tug Hill Vineyards, Lowville, New York

Established in 2007, Tug Hill Vineyards is owned and operated by Michael and Susan Maring. Their first vintage was released in Spring 2011 and they now offer more than 12 wines.

There is five acres at the vineyard for blueberries picking and also three acres for raspberries. After picking our own raspberries and blackberries, we would definitely do this another time to make another ganache cake. We were at Tug Hill Vineyards for one of the most popular Sunday Brunch options in North Country. The Sunday brunch is offered from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.

We made a reservation to accommodate a group of eleven and highly suggest reserving a place on the screened in porch to enjoy the breathtaking views.

We received a gift of a bottle of White Out from their first vintage and paired it with a reisling jam and honey pork loin. White Out is an oaked ruby red wine made from locally grown Frontenac grapes. A semi-dry wine it boasts a distinctive cherry aroma and inviting palette of blackberry and plum for $14.99.

The mimosas, wine spritzers, Tug Hill Breeze and other alcoholic drinks are served until noon on Sundays. It is New York Law.

We loved the wooden ceilings and the overall aesthetic of the dining area. Rustic and very fun.

The table’s breakfast favorite was the pineapple stuffed french toast, the asparagus medley, bacon and herbed scrambled eggs.

The quiches were also a favorite and we sampled a broccoli, cheese and sausage one.

The olive and tomato quiche was very unique and was very delicious.

The dessert display was quite impressive and we had a difficult time deciding what to sample. There was fresh fruit, apple cake, kaluha whipped cream, strawberry baklava, blueberry mini muffins, cinnamon rolls and much more.The table’s two favorites was the strawberry baklava and apple cake. The mini muffins and fruit cobbler were good, but nothing memorable.

Needing to walk off the brunch, we walked the well manicured vineyard grounds, enjoyed the flowers and watched the volleyball games in the field area.

Below the dining and porch area is the Wine Cellar which sells wine related products and wine. We love our bamboo wine holder we received as a holiday gift. We purchased a case of 12 bottles (with a 10% case discount).

We did a wine tasting in the outside area, but within the Wine Cellar there are indoor tastings too. The pricing of the wine tasting was $3 for a 6 wines tasting and $5 to taste all their wines.

We actual gathered a lot of insight from the Boston based daughter of Marings who provided us with our outdoor tasting. She mentioned her parents actually created the Vineyard years later after she mentioned as a teenager she would love to own a vineyard one day. Her parents joked that she should meet a Californian boy and that’s how she’ll get her vineyard.  When she was in college, her parents sold their landscaping business and actually purchased Tug Hill Vineyards.

Our favorite was White Out and the 43 Lat Red Is a full-bodied red wine enhanced by “noble rot”, these dehydrated grapes produce very concentrated sugars. There are honey and spice characteristics,  The price of the bottle is $12.99.

Other folks in our party purchased bottles of LaCrescent Is a French American hybrid with a perfect balance of sweetness and natural acidity, its lush flavors and enticing aromas of citrus and pineapple ($14.99) and Tail Light Red is a sweet red wine made from Frontenac grapes. This fruity wine balances aromas of cherry and blackberry with a clean crisp finish for $10.99.

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