Ah yes, the Hungry Mother. I wish I could make up some story about how I had always known about this Kendall Square treasure. I mean, I totally would but Edgar would know I was lying.
2008 marked three notable events. Number one, I graduated from college. Number two, I got sucked into the whirlwind that is public accounting. Number three, Rachel Munzer, Alon Munzer, John Kessen, and Chef Barry Maiden opened Hungry Mother.
I’d like to cast most of the blame for being in the dark on number two. It wasn’t until 2009 that Edgar, my coworker, had told me about the Cambridge power combo of Hungry Mother and Lord Hobo. Yes, I said power combo. You also punch in AABBABA to skip the waiting for a table level. I know this is my first post, but get used to my endearing bad jokes.
This Saturday, I meandered onto the corner of Cardinal Medeiros Avenue and Binny Street at 5:45. John warmly greeted me and ushered me toward two seats at the bar. I ordered a no. 99 right away. In addition to having the bragging rights for being a food hot spot (Hungry Mother was the winner of 2011 Munch Madness), it is also one hell of a bar. That being said, a no. 99 means paying 12 bucks to let Heather make you some kind of awesome concoction. My drink consisted of gin, aperol, sweet vermouth, orange angostura bitters, and orange oil. This was later followed by a similar cocktail whose base was whiskey, rather than gin. Heather was a good salesperson. I was easily convinced.
Halfway through drink number one, John and Heather mentioned my date needed to buy me another drink for making me wait. Enter Edgar. Edgar is the type of guy who makes you feel like you’ve known him forever. He’ll easily make his way onto your top 10 list of favorite people. This is the case with Edgar and the Hungry Mother family. I could have laughed at the expressions when Edgar sat down next to me, knowing eyes judging his tardiness.
This being my second time to HM, I knew I wanted those freakishly addictive boiled peanuts. If I had one request, it would be to make those gosh darn boiled peanuts complimentary. Other places serve bread. You’re better than other places, HM. You’re the bad ass that serves boiled peanuts. Give the people their peanuts for free! Edgar threw in an order for the hush puppies for good measure.
The hush puppies knocked it out of the park. Hot, deep fried batter paired with a savory remoulade and sweet, flavorful jelly. While Edgar was telling me some involved story, I snuck a few extra in hopes he wouldn’t notice. Sorry Edgar!
For dinner, I ordered a braised beef cheek shepherd’s pie. This wasn’t the official name, this is the Katie name because I cannot for the life of me remember what they called this. The dish came out piping hot in a small cast iron skillet. Favorite elements of the dish — smooth potatoes topped with dried herbs and toasted bread crumbs. The delightfully gritty crunch gave a nice texture contrast. Well, that and it’s carbs topped with toasted carbs. Next, braised beef cheek. I don’t think I need to say much about this. Beautifully braised, fall apart meat flakes swimming in a deep sea of flavor. If not for the hot cast iron, I would have licked the bottom of my bowl.
This is the type of place you want to tell only a handful of close friends about because it’s that special. Thankfully, Hungry Mother is so hoppin’ that I can blog about it and tell just about everyone. Go please, it’s delicious. The HM family welcomes you with arms wide open and the right thing to do is accept it with an equally open heart.
Chef Barry Maiden (L’Espalier, Sel de la Terre and Lumiere)
33 Cardinal Medeiros Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02141