Dude. This place is nuts. We made a reservation for this one, so we knew it had to be special. It’s in a bit of a random neighborhood, very utilitarian office buildings and a bit of a residential area in Cambridge. Don’t let that fool you. This place is full of soul, and so is the food.
First of all, they give you boiled peanuts. I have never had boiled peanuts. Shamefully, we had to look up exactly how to eat them, but holy whoa. Eat a boiled peanut ASAP. It’s like peanut butter made in your mouth. Deliciously salty and mushy and nom.
We both got drinks at this place and thank goodness we did. I ordered the #43 which is rye, tawny port, maple syrup, and Angostura bitters served with one monster ice-cube (as it should be, I was so pleased.) Diana ordered #108: Laird’s 7.5 year apple brandy, sweet tea, limoncello, lemon, and mint as recommended by our lovely waitress, Hannah. Well made drinks and boiled peanuts. We’re off to a great start and we’ve barely begun.
We ordered cornbread with sorghum butter. Cornbread is already good, but this cornbread is perfect. So perfect in fact, Diana ordered one to take home for breakfast the next morning. Not overly sweet and when the butter begins to melt all over your slice, it’s almost too rich to eat.
Deviled eggs were next because deviled eggs are the greatest. We forgot exactly what was on these deviled eggs because they were a special and we couldn’t look it up later, but I’m pretty sure it was pork belly and chives. The tangy egg yolks against the salty pork belly was almost too much. We could have stopped there and been satiated, but we took a page out of the Eat a Duck Official Handbook and continued the feast.
The Hoppin’ John was next. A small bowl of cornmeal dumplings, slow roasted farro and pork belly with jalapeño. I’m not sure if this is a Southern staple, but it should be. The perfect amount of heat from the jalapeno flavored the farro and pork belly and we’ve already established that Hungry Mother kills it when it comes to corn products. All of the flavors married so well and didn’t step on each other. We could have stopped there again. But we didn’t.
Yes, I had to order the escargot and pomme frites with aioli and lemon sauce. I don’t think I could be related to Jimmy and not order this dish. I wouldn’t normally think to put fries on top of escargot, but boy is it a good idea. (It is.) Getting a bit of aioli mixed in with the lemon sauce added a richness that escargot hardly needs, but we were going for gold here. At this point, we were starting to reach our limit, but we couldn’t stop ourselves.
We had another special. The scallops with cherry tomatoes, beans and bacon in some sort of ridiculous delicious sauce that we forgot also. These scallops were cooked so perfectly and paired so well with the rest of the ingredients that they had a chance to sing, but also be married to the rest of the dish in an effortless way. This may have been my favorite of the meal. But that’s like asking me to choose between my nonexistent children.
Our last two dishes were cornmeal-crusted catfish with Virginia andouille, dirty rice middlins, chow chow relish, pecans, lemon-mustard brown butter and baked grits with tasso ham and cheddar. I want to make a note here that as we were insanely full at this point (so full that I couldn’t sit up on the T ride home) and only ate a few bites of each of these, but I took the catfish home, put it in the fridge, proceeded to drive home 3 and a half hours from Boston to Vermont and the catfish crust was still crispy and perfect. It tasted as good as it did in the restaurant, even after all that rigamarole and being zapped in the microwave (forgive me, Jimmy.)
This restaurant was just perfect. If you’re in Boston, please make the effort to get over there.
Also, the bathroom walls are plastered with pages from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. What else is there to say?