Throughout the year, Restaurant Editor Bill Addison will travel the country to chronicle what's happening in America's dining scene and to formulate his list of the essential 38 restaurants in America. Follow his progress in this travelogue/review series, The Road to the 38, and check back at the end of the year to find out which restaurants made the cut.
Craigie on Main
Chef-owner Tony Maws received his share of accolades at his first restaurant, Craigie Street Bistrot, located in a cramped basement space in Cambridge about a half-mile from Harvard University. But in 2010, when he moved his business into the light of a standalone brick building closer to MIT, he ascended to the national map and stayed put. Craigie on Main maintains the kind of ambassador status afforded to one or two places in most every U.S. city—the ambitious, elevated American restaurant led by a perfectionist who keeps pace with trends but never loses sight of his own culinary compass.
The digs certainly fit the part. The room is so comforting it is almost patriotic: brick walls, partly painted and partly exposed; polished wood floors that make the starched white tablecloths stand out in high relief; a wraparound burgundy banquette in one corner. Much of the kitchen is open and in line of sight from the moment you enter. The cooks tango around one another frantically, but their stovetops gleam. They have nothing to hide.