Boston Restaurant Blog -- August, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
When Magnolia in the Inman Square neighborhood of Cambridge closed awhile back, I was pretty sad to hear the news, as Boston doesn't have all that many options for Southern-style cuisine. But when I heard that a new place called Tupelo would be opening in its spot, my spirits lifted and I vowed to try the place as soon as it opened. Well, I wasn't able to get to the place until recently, but the delay was worth it, as the meal we had at Tupelo easily ranks among my top 10 of 2009 so far.
The layout of Tupelo is fairly simple, with a squarish room containing a bar and a decent number of tables, including a couple of window seats on both the right and left side of the dining area. The bar, which is along the right side of the room, is a bit close to some of the tables, so when it gets crowded (as it did the night we were there), it can get a little claustrophobic to both diners and drinkers. The overall space itself is rather attractive, with old-fashioned hanging lights and a wall mural above the bar, a tile floor, copper tables, and wooden chairs with cushions.
As soon as we were seated at Tupelo, one of the servers brought over some cornbread, which was quite good (not too sweet but not lacking in flavor, either), and our main waiter brought over a couple of excellent beers, namely an Allagash White and an Abita Amber, which is a Louisiana beer not typically found in the Boston area. There were some great options for appetizers, including the spicy turkey meatballs, which was the app we went with. The meatballs had a nice mix of herbs and spices and came with both a tasty sauce and some French bread. But as good as the meatballs were, the entrees were better, with the crab etouffee being perhaps the best item of the night. There were all kinds of vegetables, herbs, and spices thrown into the dish along with small pieces of crab meat, and there was an underlying heat to it all, which resulted in a mild but noticeable burn throughout the meal. The other entree - the champagne crepe plate - was very nearly as good, with cheesy, chewy crepes filled with a mix of smooth ricotta cheese and sweet basil, and the fresh radicchio salad and zesty herb tomato vinaigrette that came with it was just icing on the cake. I also ordered a side of red beans and rice, and this was another dish that had a slow burn, though unlike the etouffee, this burn was a bit more obvious, and combined with the uncomfortably hot dining room, resulted in a fairly unpleasant end to an otherwise terrific meal. The red beans and rice were pretty impressive, however, with a nicely balanced mix of beans, rice, herbs, and spices.
Heat aside (the heat of the dining room, that is, not the heat of the red beans and rice), our meal at Tupelo was something special. Based on the crowds the night we were there (and it was a night in the middle of the week) - and based on all the reviews I have seen online about the place - Tupelo isn't exactly a hidden gem, even though it hasn't been around very long. But it does indeed seem to be a great place to go for Southern-style and Cajun food, and one that I really can't recommend enough. Now if they could only do something about that air conditioning....
For those who would like the address and phone number for Tupelo, here it is: Tupelo, 1193 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139; the phone number is (617) 868-0004.
Note: Comments have now been closed for this blog entry.