Craigie on Main's burger is the Angelina Jolie of the Boston burger world: breathtaking, written about as a rare work of beauty and art, lusted after by plenty. Never before has a burger caused such excitement and such fury: The $18 short rib/flap meat/brisket blend has graced the cover of Bon Apptit, been lauded by Food & Wine, and sparked countless "is it worth it?" debates in local outlets. So when news hit that Maws's barroom burger is now only available in limited quantities, and that his entire bar menu is no more, fans freaked. How could he do such a thing? We cut through the hype to ask Maws directly: Just what kind of monster have you created, sir? Within, the skinny on the burger imbroglio.
"I didn't realize I invented the burger," Maws chuckled when we caught up with him. Maws is flattered by the attention but thinks people just need to calm down. (Indeed, folks on Chowhound had worked themselves into such a lather about his decision that hostile commentators were blocked from posting yesterday.) The outcry over the missing burger reached such a fever pitch, in fact, that Maws himself took to his blog to mollify the angry masses.
Essentially, the demand for Craigie's burger was so great that Maws had been resorting to inferior meat suppliers to meet demand. (He usually gets his meat from Hardwick beef, the same Western Massachusetts spot favored by Dan Barber. But he's only entitled to a certain amount.) Ultimately, though, he couldn't live with this choice. After all, this is a burger that took six months to perfect. Rather than settle for inferior meat, he opted to reduce his burger output. Now, the burger is only offered verbally at the bar (as in, your server will let you know if it's available). Maws estimates that he'll make about 20 per night: "Basically, what we were selling pre-burger blow-up," he says. However, the plot thickened when Maws also condensed his bar and dining room menus into one whopping menu. Industry watchers smelled a conspiracy.
But fear not. You can still get the same burger you adore; it just might take a bit of doing, since it's not on the menu and the restaurant might run out. But that's it. "There's no secret society; no secret handshake," Maws insists. For his part, he's surprised that the burger created such a brouhaha, especially during a holiday weekend. "It's the day before Thanksgiving! Don't you people have families?" he laughs. Meanwhile, the other bar staples you knew and loved are available in the dining room, on the dining room menu.
"We're not trying to be a pain. This isn't a marketing ploy," Maws assures us. "I'm going to continue to make the same burger that became popular for a reason."