Restaurant Report

Tupelo

1193 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 868-0004
www.tupelo02139.com

 

 

category:

Boston BBQ, Mattapan BBQ, Dorchester BBQ, Soul Food

 

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Other Opinion

(07/03/09)

 

A close cousin of barbecue is Southern cuisine, and two much-talked-about proponents have sprung up in Cambridge within the last year and a half. First came Hungry Mother near Kendall Square; this year's rookie is Tupelo near Inman Square. Based on only one visit apiece, I'd say Hungry Mother is a bit more refined, but that's just a stylistic choiceboth are well worth a visit.

 

A Friday night first visit to Tupelo started with a small basket of biscuits and cornbread. The former were pretty standard; the latter were what has unfortunately become standard: a fluffy, Twinkie-like confection. Fortunately, this small lapse in authenticity didn't forbear the brilliance that was about to come.

 

Golf ball sized fried oysters ($8) bore a medium-thick batter that packed some crunch and light seasoning. Inside, the extra heft of the oysters allowed perfect tenderness, ensured there'd be plenty of sweet juices and provided a high oyster-to-batter ratio. I also enjoyed the chopped pickled green tomatoes, whose tartness cut some of the richness of the batter.

 

For my entree I chose the Daube of Beef ($15), a generous plank of what I believed to be brisket, cooked into wilting submission by hours in a red wine braising liquid. Unlike my dinner at Roadhouse a few nights earlier, this dish proved that you can cook without smoke and still achieve both flavor and tenderness. The exterior was liberally seasoned and well-crusted, giving way to fork-tender (though ever so slightly dry) inner meat. A dark sauce beneath the beef, presumably made from thickened braising stock, provided ample dipping opportunity. Above, a drizzle of horsradish cream added a spicy element; hominy mashed potatos and tart, cooked-just-past-wilting greens rounded out the dish. Fried catfish ($14.50), accompanied by more of thosr tart green tomatoes, was equally well-seasoned and cooked even better.

 

Prices weren't just reasonablethey're an outright steal for the portion and overal quality.

 

I really liked that our waiter Fredwho was also very personableis a former chef who truly understood the menu. I observed him as he worked the room, and he achieved the perfect balance between hospitality and efficiency. After the meal I asked him about the possibility of adding a smoker, and while he made no promises, he confided that it's something they're seriously thinking about for down the road. Either way, I'll be back.

 

other opinion/info:

Devra First's Boston Globe review of Tupelo

Yelp reviews of Tupelo

Urban Spoon reviews of Tupelo

 

 

Tupelo on Urbanspoon

 

 

A casual Southern restaurant near Inman Square in Cambridge.

 

The small bar.

 

The bread basket.

 

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Five plump oysters and tart green tomatoes.

 

Simple salad of lettuce and hearts of palm.

 

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Catfish with more pickled tomatoes.

 

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A daube of beef.

 

 

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