The vision Owner/Chef Tony Maws holds for Craigie On Main is of a classic, vibrant space for community building and fine dining that continues to evolve.
“Our general approach is to be a restaurant that’s timeless,” Maws explains. “While I’m not really concerned about food trends, I don’t want to cook the same thing over and over. I’m a pretty creative person, and I like to keep that part of my brain occupied.”
As the restaurant celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, Maws is taking the chance to look to the future. The Craigie on Main team uses the Japanese term “kaizen,” meaning continuous improvement, as its motto in the kitchen.
That eye toward improvement and growth has its roots in the restaurant’s move from Craigie Street, which it left a decade ago to become the rebranded restaurant on Main Street. Maws jumped at the opportunity to relocate to a larger dining and kitchen space.
“We had a blast operating a very small, little restaurant in a basement outside of Harvard Square,” he says, “but we felt like we had outgrown it.”
The 10th anniversary brought several changes to the restaurant, including the renaming of the a la carte bar room to “COMB,” an acronym for the Craigie on Main Bar. The casual bar area is now serving fresh burger specials each month of 2019 alongside the classic Craigie Burger, and hosting weekly “Buffalo Sundays” featuring unique buffalo-sauced snacks. Traditional dining in the restaurant is now prix fixe only, with a new four-course $85 menu every day. There will also be special events like whole hog dinners and “Craigie Classics” cooking classes sprinkled throughout the year.
Despite the changes, certain daring entrees—like one featuring a pig head served in a sauce of pig blood—have become customer favorites and will remain on the menu for years to come.
“We have people walking in here hoping that pig’s head is on the menu that night,” Maws says. “Literally, a pig’s head on a plate, you have to do all the work, you have to pick at it.”
Maws credits the community’s mature taste palate with allowing his restaurant’s riskier dishes to succeed.
“We’ve always been fortunate to have a population of people around us, because of who lives here, because of who goes to school here or who’s working here, that have been pretty well traveled and pretty well cultured in the ways of food and dining,” Maws says. “Because of that, we’ve been able to have some things on our menu since day one that I think some other restaurants might not have been able to have.”
In addition to serving exciting cuisine, Craigie on Main hopes to foster a relaxing space for social interaction.
“We’re here to serve the community,” Maws explains. “We’re cooking food so people can eat it, take their minds off other things, have conversations with their friends. I’m just doing my job the way I’m supposed to and hoping I’m putting a smile on people’s faces, providing a place where they can take their mind off of whatever else is outside of these walls. We’re giving them a place where they can just roll up their sleeves and relax for a little while.”
Craigie On Main is located at 853 Main St. For more information, visit craigieonmain.com or call (617) 497-5511.