Restaurants: Hungry Mother

Hungry Mother quickly became a favorite of my family when it first opened down the street from my parents in Kendall Square last year. The food is kind of like refined Southern food with a French twist. The menu is very small, but it changes often and I have never had anything that I haven’t loved. Between the atmosphere and the service, you actually feel like you’re dining at someone’s house.

Unfortunately for us, word got out. In addition to getting rave reviews all around, Barry Maiden, the executive chef, was featured in Food & Wine Magazine as one of the best new chefs of 2009. Let’s just say that same day reservations are hard to come by these days!

Last Sunday was the last night of my Thanksgiving visit home and my dad had just flown out for a business trip. My mom and I thought we’d call Hungry Mother on the off chance that they had an opening for two. They didn’t, but they told us that someone was about to get up from one of the bar tables and that they’d save it for us if we could be there in five minutes. Off we went…

The menu is split up into snacks “to tide you over,” firsts, mains, and sides. The mains are generous portions, but it’s hard to resist ordering a few additions. We started off with the beef tongue canapé. I ordered it my first time there just to try something different and was blown away with how good it was. They thinly slice the smoked tongue and top it with a little bit of mustard and melted gruyere. It’s a little bit sweet, has a bacon-like smokiness, and just melts in your mouth.

We also got the black eyed pea fritters, which had a really interesting texture that we loved. They were both crunchy AND creamy on the inside. Our server told us that the black eyed peas were soaked but not cooked. It didn’t hurt that they were served with buttermilk ranch dressing and house made bacon.

I ordered the gnocchi in a mushroom broth with chanterelles, squash, red peas, brussels sprouts, and parmesan cheese. They seem to always have a variation of this dish; they just change the vegetables with the season. I’m not usually one to order a vegetarian dish, but I had some of my mom’s one time and fell in love with it.

My mom ordered the cornmeal catfish served over dirty rice, andouille, and mustard brown butter. It was topped with a sour vegetable relish that cut through the richness of the fish really nicely. Again, they always have some kind of cornmeal catfish on their menu and it actually seems to get better and better.

Because I can’t come to Hungry Mother without getting some grits, we shared a side of the baked cheddar grits with tasso ham.

For dessert, we split the coconut cream parfait. The coconut cream was layered with toasted coconut and topped with rum whipped cream and a coconut shortbread cookie.

As you can probably tell, I love everything about Hungry Mother. Its’ the kind of place you can go to and know you’ll always leave in a good mood. If you haven’t already, you should definitely check it out.

Hungry Mother on Urbanspoon

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