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Feast: Hungry Mother – Just Like Mom’s House

August 5, 2009
I have a tendency to stick with the familiar at my favorite restaurants. When I find something I like, I order it again and again until I’ve had so much of it I can’t stand it anymore. (This pattern also holds for my gym workouts, favorite shoes, and movies, by the way.) Hungry Mother seems to instinctually know I have a tendency to cling to something already proven delicious instead of branching out, and so they force me to experiment. While I mourn the current absence of the deviled eggs, fried oysters, and shrimp and grits that first captivated me at the Cambridge restaurant, their changing menu still delights.

A little over a year old, Hungry Mother may no longer be the shiniest penny on the block in terms of new-ness, but its southern hospitality hasn’t waned a bit. Each time I walk in I am greeted pleasantly and made to feel right at home, whether just having a drink at the bar or staying for dinner. The dining area feels like a cross between the hominess of mom’s everyday kitchen table and the downplayed elegance of a celebratory dinner- like Hungry Mother is taking us out for our birthday. The wine list, organized from lightest to “most challenging” also changes, and the knowledgable staff are always willing to give you a taste or help you pair wines with your food.

On my last visit, our waitress gave us a heads up that the chef had decided (on a whim, it seemed) to make up some batter for corn fritters, and would we like to try those? As someone who has never enjoyed anything belonging to the fritter paradigm- too doughy, not enough flavor, too much fried flavor- I was skeptical. However, these were light and flavorful. Drizzled with honey and Tabasco, with fresh corn kernals running throughout, they have completely changed my mind about the fritter genre. I followed these with the fried green tomatoes and fell just as deeply in love. I feel like green and yellow tomatoes are often given short shrift in favor of their red brethren, and its so very rare to get a fried tomato that is still firm. The gnocchi, which I have had in several iterations at HM, was perfect as usual. I have never been a huge fan of gnocchi- again, you can rarely get a suitably firm texture on these potato dumplings- but Hungry Mother gets it right. Paired with seasonal produce it never disappoints. A fellow dinner tried the chef’s veal chop and licked the bone clean, while yet another inhaled the catfish with nary a complaint. We finished with the rhubarb brown betty and chocolate cream pie. The  pie featured local TAZA chocolate, always a bonus, and the brown betty had just enough vanilla ice cream to cut the tang of the fruit- lovely ways to say goodbye to the meal.

I’ve eaten at Hungry Mother at least ten times over the past year, and plan to keep going with at least the same frequency. While each time I return I will pray for the shrimp and grits’ swift return, I know if it is not there I will be in for another, different treat. For me, eating at Hungry Mother is a bit like mom making you eat your broccoli, but much more delicious.

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