Hungry Mother aims to baby your taste buds
Kendall Square might have a slew of tech companies, but in the midst of the kaleidoscope of futuristic businesses, you can now find boiled peanuts and grits.
Open just a few weeks, Hungry Mother restaurant specializes in Southern cooking with a classic French twist. Hungry Mother is the name of a state park near where Chef Barry Maiden (of L’Espalier and Lumiere fame) grew up in Virginia.
Restaurant partners John Kessen, Rachel Miller Munzer and Alon Munzer have known they were going for French-Southern cuisine (“contemporary American,” Kessen prefers) for a relatively long time. They were scheduled to open Village Table in Boston, but after licensing and neighborhood issues, it never got off the ground. Fast forward a year and a half, and they’re now in a space formerly occupied by the Kendall Cafe at 233 Cardinal Medeiros Ave. (most recently it was a short-lived pub called The Swan).
“We think Kendall Square is a great area,” said Kessen, formerly the general manager at Boston hot spot Sel De La Terre. “It’s right near the movie theater. The space itself is really unique. It feels pretty good.”
Kessen and company transformed the space into a homey restaurant, complete with rustic-looking cast-iron pan on the wall and a portrait of Thomas Jefferson. Even the bathroom is creatively and aptly outfitted with wallpaper featuring pages from two cookbooks: Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and “The Virginia Housewife” (a Southern classic).
While it may be a shocker to see Southern-influenced food in the heart of Cambridge’s technology core, the restaurant has gotten rave reviews — especially from Southern transplants eager to taste food from their childhoods.
The food is artfully prepared by Maiden and features a blend of French and the South. For appetizers, you can try the boiled peanuts, of course. Entrees range from cornmeal catfish, and steak to gnocchi and roasted chicken with jalapeno-garlic spoonbread (another Southern classic). Entrees range in price from $16 to $23.
“His brain is always moving,” said Kessen of Maiden and his experience with French cuisine. “He loves to cook with as much as local stuff as possible.”
Drinks, which don’t have names, only numbers, also feature the South in every taste. Try the No. 10 (bourbon, sweet tea and limoncello) or No. 18 (sparkling wine, tequila and homeade grenadine).
For now, Hungry Mother’s open only for dinner. But Kessen said he’d like to offer brunch and lunch menus at some point.
If you go ...
Hungry Mother (233 Cardinal Medeiros Ave.; 617-499-0990) is open Tuesday through Sunday from 5 until 10 p.m. The bar is open until 1 a.m.
Roasted green garlic-jalapeno spoonbread