We kicked off the new year with Chef's Whim at Craigie Street Bistrot, the tiny little Cambridge restaurant where Tony Maws cooks. Jan. 1 poses some problems for restaurants after the explosive bash of New Years Eve, and so the proposition was simple: you reserve a table, the chef will make something.
I've had good luck with this in the past. Usually, they plan out interesting wine pairings, but last night was more whimsical than usual: every table was being sent different things, so no standard wine pairings. "We find out what he's making you a few minutes before you do," they explained. "But we can make some general recommendations based on what he's working on in the kitchen."
It was great fun. Lots of courses — the spec said six, but Linda counted nine. Lots of surprising and interesting dishes. Some Wellfleet clams with squid-ink dashi emulsion. A lovely bean ragu with a perfect little egg, bits of chicken confit, and a delicious sauce. A meltingly-tender, calvados-braised pork shank. (We'd never have ordered this off the menu, but it's really good; that's the point of Whim.)