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Hungry Mother - new Southern/French in old Kendall Cafe location

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Hungry Mother - new Southern/French in old Kendall Cafe location

bobot | Mar 29, 2008 09:13 AM

(mostly cross-posted from my yelp.com review)

Some context- I am a misplaced Southerner, having grown up in North Carolina, who has been living in Boston for almost nine years. So when I walked in and saw boiled peanuts.... and Virginia country ham... and spoon bread... and all-you-can-drink sweet tea... well, you can't blame a man for a-whoopin' and a-hollerin', can you?

I am not entirely exaggerating when I say that I have been dreaming of a restaurant like Hungry Mother the entire time I've lived here (and I've made Chowhound posts to the same effect for lesser Southern cooking establishments). It's a little slice of home, combined with some serious French cookin' chops. The chef is an Appalachian Virginian who managed to escape (and believe me, that is a rough place) to the New England Culinary Institute. He didn't forget where he came from, though, and thank God for that because who needs yet another French or fusion restaurant?

I started my meal with some boiled peanuts. They were fresh and not at all salty, which was certainly different. My wife said "it's almost like eating a vegetable!" Me, I could've used some more salt... ok, a lot more salt, but I will freely admit that I like my boiled peanuts to taste like a salt lick. The pork rilletes were coarse, not smooth, and seriously smoky-porky- I think there was a lot of belly meat in there. Good stuff.

For an appetizer, I had a big ol' plate of the prosciutto of the South, Virginia country ham. Man alive! Good stuff. Sliced nice and thin, with some good olives and a fig compote, it was heaven on a plate. I paired my ham with the Champagne of Beers, a steal at only $3 a bottle (the wine list is a good selection of a smattering of French/Italian wines, but mostly west coast wine. The most expensive bottle on the list is $70). My wife enthusiastically tucked in to a bowl of shrimp and grits. Now, I have eaten the archetypal shrimp and grits at Crook's Corner so to me they weren't that exciting- too soupy. The tasso ham was a nice touch though.

For my entree, I rocked out with my rib out- braised pork shoulder with one single perfect smoky rib and grits. That rib. Let's just say that pig did not die in vain. Intensely smoky, super rich pork flavor. The grits were very good- not Quaker out of a bag, but definitely something like Anson Mill stone-ground grits with a nice chunky texture. My wife had the roasted chicken with spoon bread and brussels sprouts. SPOON BREAD, folks! I haven't had that since my grandma cooked it for me when I was a wee one. The chicken was moist, but with a nice crispy skin and subtle herb flavors.

Whew! I think that's a sufficiently exhaustive accounting of our meal. I will be back, that's for damn sure, and in the hot summer months I will drink buckets of sweet tea. Speaking of which, the bourbon, limoncello, and sweet tea cocktails is not to be missed- neither is the sorghum mint julep. Although if I tell my Mom I went to a restaurant that charges $9 for a drink made with what is essentially Karo syrup ("that's for poor people!") she'll laugh her head off. I'm looking forward to trying more of the cocktails, which are inventive but grounded in traditional cocktail-making, and aren't 27 different combinations of flavored vodka.

So anyway, Yankees, Southerners, Hatfields, McCoys- check out Hungry Mother.

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