Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tupelo: Delicious Fried Grits

Who would have thought that fried grits could be so tasty?

There is a new restaurant in Inman Square, Tupelo, which provides Southern cuisine. Located on the site of the former Magnolias, Tupelo is owned by Renee McLeod (of Petsi Pies fame) and Mike Walker. Chef Rembs Layman’s family came from New Orleans and he has worked at places including Chez Henri, La Morra, and Pomodoro.

Tupelo is a very casual and cozy eatery, with a small bar. They serve only wine and beer, and the wine list is small but diverse. I had a glass of Pinno Pinotage ($6.50), a good and inexpensive wine from South Africa. They also serve fresh brewed, unsweetened iced tea ($2) with free refills. If you refer back to yesterday's rant, you can see that this restaurant is doing it right with their iced tea. I also note that you are served water in a mason jar.

The food menu is split into Small Plates ($5-$8), Creoles, Etouffees & Jambalayas of the Day ($7), Entrees ($9-$15) and Side Plates ($5). Thus it is relatively inexpensive and the dishes provide a decent quantity for the price. There are also usually several nightly Specials available.

One item not listed on the menu is Corn Bread, one of my favorite foods. How can a Southern restaurant not serve corn bread? I was a bit disappointed but I asked my server about it anyways. Fortunately they did have corn bread available and I ate a couple pieces (plus there was no charge for it). It was tasty and moist though I would have preferred that it had been served warm. I probably could have gotten that though if I had requested it. Next time I will know.

I began my meal with one of their specials, Fried Grits ($5), which had come highly recommended by Pam of Cave Cibum. Though I am not usually a fan of grits, or at least what is commonly available locally, I decided to give this a try. They looked nothing like traditional grits. Instead, they reminded me of marshmallows, small squares with a crisp exterior but a creamy interior with a flavorful corn taste. I dripped a little hot sauce atop each fried grit and enjoyed them very much. I would heartily second Pam's recommendation on this dish.

I also tried the Jambalaya ($7) which contained thin slices of sausage, shredded crab meat and shrimp. For the price, this was a decent-sized dish with plenty of flavor. The rice was cooked well, the dish was spiced properly and there was plenty of seafood. Another dish I would recommend.

The hardest part of my meal was trying to decide which dessert to order. All of the desserts cost $7 each and they all sounded delicious. Coconut cream pie, double chocolate bread pudding, pecan pie, banana pudding and more. The dessert chef is Rachael Cummings and they also get some items from Petsi Pies and ice cream from Toscanini’s.

After much consideration, I chose the Coconut Cream Pie with bittersweet chocolate. This came like an individual tart, a flaky pastry shell containing a creamy, coconut filling all topped by a mound of fresh whipped cream. The plate was swirled with bittersweet chocolate. A decadently delicious treat which certainly satisfied me. It would be worth coming here just for dessert.

Service was excellent, my server being personable and accomodating. I enjoyed my dinner very much and Tupelo shows much promise. I certainly will return to try their other dishes. In these tough economic times, it is good to see a value restaurant open that provides excellent food. I do recommend you check out Tupelo.

1193 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA
Phone: (617) 868-0004

Tupelo on Urbanspoon


Jen said...

I've added Tupelo to the top of the list. Thanks for the scoop!

Kristen said...

Your description of both the fried grits and the dessert have clinched it for me. Definitely going to check it out!

Richard Auffrey said...

It would be a great place for a bunch of food bloggers to check out together.

Anonymous said...

Tupelo is definitely on my list- I have been craving Southern food. I even posted about a restaurant in Charleston, SC this evening!