Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hungry Mother

Fried Green Tomatoes.

Of all the Cambridge eateries, Hungry Mother probably has the coolest name. When I first heard it, I thought that it was just describing a ravenous home kitchen maven, whipping up some good old Southern comfort food for the hungry Yankees that inhabit the MIT side of Cambridge. Hungry Mother, I thought, was a name that evoked a Shaft like coolness....maybe not a bad mother...but a hungry one? Yes. It turns out the restaurant's namesake is actually a national park in Virginia, and it's the flavorful, comforting cooking of this region that inspires this restaurants menu.

The menu at this place is not expansive, but what they do, they do well. Like so many other restaurants, where this place really shines is the appetizers. I think that this has more to do with the creative process that goes into appetizers compared to main plates than it does the restaurant itself. So, as I'm sure I've suggested in other reviews, this is a restaurant the might best be experienced by forgoing the entree and just splurging on the appetizers.

The menu offers several small bites that can warm you up for the appetizers. Abby and I chose to split the biscuits with country ham and pepper jelly, which we forgot to photograph. The dish contained two tiny biscuits, ham shaved thin like prosciutto, and a dab of pepper jelly. It was delicious. We followed that up with fried green tomatoes with bacon, some sort of aioli, and frisee, pictured above, and mussels with tasso, new orleans bbq broth and corbread crumbs. Both of these were the epitome of comfort food, packed with savoury, layered flavors. The mussels had a hint of spice that was really nice, and we couldn't stop slurping up the broth. It may have been one of the better renditions of mussels that I've had.

For entrees we went with roast chicken with brussels sprouts, carrots, and potatoes and cornmeal crusted catfish over Hoppin' John.
Both of these dishes were good, and the Hoppin' John had a nice hint of vinegar in it, which is a good way to keep an otherwise starchy, heavy dish feeling light. Nonetheless, they lacked the punch of the appetizers.
For dessert, we had the banana pudding, which I highly recommend. The restaurant also has a great drink list that is worth checking out.

This restaurant is moderately priced, with most of the entrees checking in somewhere in the low to mid 20s. However, with so many great sides, drinks, and desserts, the tab can creep up if you aren't careful. Even so, I would rate this is a good neighborhood restaurant that is worth going back to. Since its located right next to the best theater in Cambridge, this would make a great first stop for a night out at the movies.

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