We went on Tuesday (also with the Groupon - I hate waiting this long to use it, but somehow always manage). We ordered the cucumber soup, the mixed grill and also the red snapper. While admittedly Im sort of glad we didnt pay full price as there are several places you can get just as good food for less money, I actually really enjoyed the Red Snapper dish. The Red Snapper admittedly needed the sauce it had on top, or the sauce that was on the side, but that is true with many white fish dishes. For me, the coconut rice was excellent. It was perfectly cooked, but somewhat light with perfect gooey flavor. But we went at 5:30 on a Tuesday. My guess is that it may depend upon the chef and how busy the place is... though that is sort of sad, as you would expect a place that expensive and small to be consistent in their quality. For me, I think I will definitely go back, though likely not without a groupon (before the week its due!) or on Restaurant Weeks. One of my biggest reasons for being in love with this place is the last time I went it was on Restaurant week and I had this amazing bouillabaisse, that is easily the best I've ever had. I'm waiting for that to return to the menu :)
You are correct, the two styles are very different, though for me, somewhat on the "same plane". In a single word, Oringer is more "gastronomic", Maws is "homey".
Both were incredibly creative. Oringer wowed us off the bat with a tomato water martini that was completely clear (though talking to others, this is done year round). Several seafood dishes followed from Ivory salmon to softshell crab dish. Maws started with three seafood dishes that were to die for, everything from squid noodles and fritters in squid ink to a Cobia fish in miso broth which I have never eaten but was so amazing, that it is now the best fish I have ever eaten.
Moving more towards the heart of the courses Oringer continued with fish with Scallops and Skate dishes that were perfectly cooked (as to be expected) and proceeded to a duck, for which they brought the whole roast duck to our table then presented it in a completely different manner 15 minutes later. But Maws took a slightly heavier progression moving from the fish into a house made farro tagliettelli pasta, a pork belly dish, and then into Lamb three ways. We were also given the option to add a bone marrow course to the Cragie dinner and did - even though it was so over the top!
Dessert was much more impressive at Cragie as well. There was a tea infused panna cotta that was much more delicate than any I've ever had, and then we each got a different - sheeps milk cheesecake and peanut butter parfait. At Clio, we were served a cheeseboard with some very good cheeses (yet none as remarkable as some I have purchased on my own like epoisse - our favorite), and a miso dark chocolate ganache dish that was very deep and rich. For my birthday Craigie brought out a plate with Happy Birthday and my name written on it in chocolate swirls... at Clio I was given a tiny scoop of unremarkable vanilla ice cream with a candle in it and a little tiny chocolate that said "Happy Birthday" on it.
As for comparing drinks, at Cragie we started out with cocktails at the bar, and then jumped into glasses of wine recommended by our sever. We did about the same at Clio, though the Cragie cocktails were better, and the recommendations of the Cragie waiter were much more in tune with our tastes. I felt like he really took the time to know exactly what we liked and would want.
I think overall I enjoyed the progression of light to rich much more at Cragie. We left more than full, whereas at Clio, I actually felt like we could have survived the 14 course (the difference between a ton of courses of seafood and finishing with several meat courses). Both were perfectly portioned such that you had enough to taste but never got too full.
Both restaurants are a great experience, both had very good menus, but there were just several small things that quickly added up to push Craigie over the top for me. If I were going to hit up another $300-$400 meal, it would definitely be on a return to Craigie. I'm glad I experienced Clio, but I wouldn't go back for the tasting menu.
And another odd thing about the service beyond what I said above, is that at Clio, we arrived and were asking about the 10 or 14 course... yet the waiter tried to talk us out of it and down to the 7 course. Odd...
My biggest impression is that there is a huge difference to a restaurant where the chef owns and concentrates on a single restaurant vs opening 10 restaurants of different styles, there is just a different vibe. I took a friend to Craigie on a Wednesday night just for burgers at the bar (by the way THE most awesome burger you will ever eat!), and there was Tony standing at the front of the kitchen helping plate and serve. I doubt Ken was even in the restaurant the day we went.
Hope that helps!
We went to Clio and did the 10 course tasting for my Birthday. While it was amazing, I think I completely spoiled myself by doing Craigie on Main's 10 course last year. While Clio is very high end and ritzy and the food is very good, Craigie's service is just perfection and it always feels so homey there. The details they add... like when we arrived for my birthday there was a card signed by Tony Maws, and when we asked if they could give us copy of the menu we ate, they asked for 10 minutes and had a beautifully printed chef's menu. The waiter even tried to keep the surprise that my best friend had called ahead to schedule a bottle of wine! At Clio the service was a bit stiffer, and when we asked for a menu of what we ate, we got a handwritten #1 tomato, #2 tuna, etc on the back of receipt paper.
If you are going to drop some cash, Cragie is a bit cheaper but sooo much more worth it IMO :) Happy Anniversary!!