‘Hungry Mother’ aptly titled: Southern cuisine with classy, Franco New-England twist
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Hungry Mother
Nestled on a busy intersection in Cambridge, Hungry Mother is easy to miss. The exterior is that of an old-fashioned colonial home with an inconspicuous sign featuring a small cardinal. The lower level is the bar and kitchen, with a staircase leading up to the main dining area. Seeing that we didn’t make reservations, my boyfriend and I settled in at a table in the bar area which provided a view of both the bar and the prep station in the kitchen.
Hungry Mother offers a New England twist on southern comfort food. They use in-season ingredients from local farms and procure produce from the Virginia Appalachia for their southern specialties. There are four to five offerings for each course, each one a different flavor from the south. After perusing the menu, I decided on the BBQ Beef Short Rib Steak while my boyfriend got the Fried Chicken. We also shared a Smoked Beef Tongue Canapé as a starter.
While waiting for meal, we were offered bread from a basket. The table bread was a simple roll to be accompanied by a slab of butter. It was nothing special; in fact, I wish they offered cornbread as the table bread, to fit in with the theme of southern comfort food. We reviewed the extensive wine and cocktail menu, while watching the bartender whip up a variety of drinks and pouring glasses of beer from draught. There was one interesting drink where the bartender shook up a raw egg with a dark liquor.
The Smoked Beef Tongue Canapé arrived to the table first. Thinly sliced beef tongue atop a slice of crusty baguette. The beef tongue was succulent and drowned in a rich, sweet sauce that was soaked up by the bread. A dollop of Dijon mustard on the bread added a sharp, tangy taste to the sweet sauce. The beef canapé also came with a slice of Robinson family swiss, but its flavor was lost within the richness of the sauce. Overall, the beef melted in your mouth and melded perfectly with the baguette but the sauce may be too heavy for some palates.
My BBQ Beef Short Rib Steak came with fried tobacco onions and wax beans with a side of southern potato salad. The steak was tender and juicy with a thick sauce that was a touch too salty. The tobacco onions were thin and fried in a peppery batter and provided a crunch contrast to the tender meat. The wax beans were lightly salted and a little tough, but still a good addition to the dish. The southern potato salad was creamy and a nice complement to the sauce on the steak. The combination of flavors made the dish, otherwise each individual component was either too bland or too succulent for my taste.
The Fried Chicken that I had a bite of was quite good. The chicken was juicy with a crunchy and firm skin. It came with sautéed collard greens, compressed watermelon, and Tabasco honey. Never having been a fan of collard greens (even though I had them in Atlanta, GA), it still was not very appealing due to the bitterness of the greens. The chicken, however, was very well executed for something that is considered a simple comfort food of the south. Hungry Mother did make it into a classier dish, yet it was still comforting. The watermelon was sprinkled with a little sea salt, which not only brought out its flavor but also gave it a more unique taste.
Hungry Mother provided a classy taste of southern food. The presentation was simple, the waiters and waitresses kind, and the food flavorful and filling. The food was good, but prices were steep for the kind of food. If in the south, this kind of comfort food would be in abundance, and at a much better price. The waiters were kind, but not very attentive as it took about 10 minutes before any came by to take our order. The bartender, however, was very adept and kept our water glasses filled and stopped by to make conversation. Overall, I would recommend Hungry Mother for those who want a refined taste of southern comfort food and have the money to spare. The ambiance is comforting with a warm, friendly environment. And most importantly, the food is rich and hearty—just how comfort food should be. For now, Hungry Mother is my preferred place to get fried chicken (are there even KFC’s in Boston?) and southern cuisine, but I may head a few blocks down to give Tupelo a try.
- Ambiance: A-
- Service: B
- Food (taste): A-
- Food (presentation): B
- Price: B
- Overall: B+
Cambridge, MA 02141