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Mixed review for Tupelo

fishmanator Dec 31, 2010 07:28 AM

Last night my wife and I had dinner at Tupelo. We also ate there a few months ago for brunch.

While brunch was good, dinner was a disappointment. The fried oysters as an app were the highlight of the meal. They tasted fresh, properly seasoned and were served with a piquant dipping sauce. They also came with cumin/ginger pickles which were quite good.

Everything else was OK or bad. The cornbread served with dinner was cloyingly sweet served with unsalted, cheap butter. I had the pan-fried catfish which was properly cooked and fresh although under seasoned. It was served on unremarkable mashed potatoes with a roux or cornstarch thickened jalapeño sauce that was muddy and mushy. There might have been 2 pieces of mustard greens under the fish.

My wife had the chicken legs/thighs with black eyed peas and mustard greens. The chicken was undercooked, stringy, cooked at too low a temp so the skin was slimy and not crisp as well as being incredibly over salted. The peas were well cooked but again, quite salty. The mustard greens were tasty but portion size was small.

Overall, prices were reasonable to a tad bit high. Service was friendly and prompt.

For brunch I had the chicken and waffles which were excellent. My wife had a quiche/egg dish that was OK.

Maybe it is a case of too many chefs in the kitchen, I have no idea. There is clearly someone talented in the back however there is no excuse for over salted food and no excuse for undercooked chicken. If you can tell when you pull the chicken out of the oven that it isn't right, what do you put it on the plate? And bad cornbread is just a shame.

I wont go back again but I wouldn't advise others not to go. Just order carefully I guess.

1193 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA

  1. Bob Dobalina Dec 31, 2010 08:52 AM

    Sorry to hear it was so meh - my experience was better - a jambalaya special that was very good - DW had the catfish which had plenty of greens on her version of it and was enjoyed if I remember correctly. Also jalapeno mac-n-cheese - yummy. Looking back at earlier posts, some folks complained of their food being undersalted - my visit had no problems with underseasoning - too bad there is such variability.

    Not an excuse, but noticed this on the website when I looked to remember what we had - Dec. 24th-27th (Fri through Mon) also NEW YEARS: Dec 31st-Jan1st (Fri and Sat). So they opened up for three weeknights between Christmas and New Year? Maybe a case of the regular chef on vaca, or unmotivated to be there? Who knows...

    4 Replies
    1. re: Bob Dobalina
      Madrid Dec 31, 2010 09:16 AM

      As I native southerner, I have never understood the sweet cornbread in "southern" restaurants outside the south.

      Cornbread is one of the few foods southerners do not sweeten up. Maybe the only one.

      Northern cornbread "aka as yankee cornbread" tastes like cake. Southern cornbread tastes like corn, and cries out for the best butter you can get. Often it has only cornmeal, not white flour added.

      1. re: Madrid
        fishmanator Dec 31, 2010 09:25 AM

        I do mine with a corn porridge. Corn meal and a decent amount of hot water (let sit), eggs, salt, fat + cast iron pan really hot, then into oven. If I have jalepenos, ok, maybe some cheese. No sugar.

        1. re: fishmanator
          Madrid Dec 31, 2010 10:21 AM

          yes! I got the idea for porridge from cook's illustrated. it really works. I do use buttermilk and love the jalapenos.

      2. re: Bob Dobalina
        itaunas Jan 1, 2011 11:48 AM

        I had complained about underseasoning in the post below and you quickly reported a different experience and I haven't had a chance to go back (not in the area right now). I was a bit underwhelmed for a second time at dinner, but want to like it and its definitely an improvement of Magnolia. I have had good experiences with brunch and had wanted to try their Sunday blue plate dinners before they punted that idea. The former chef from Atwoods (whose food I enjoyed) waits at Tupelo and there are other people involved who have done other things in the area. In person they seemed particularly receptive to constructive criticism, so its worth talking to your server.


        Not corn bread, but I am a huge fan of corn porridge made from fresh corn and subjected family members to that over the holidays. :-) I do also enjoy savory, porky corn bread but you aren't going to find much of it around. Savory corn cakes we call johnnycakes, although I have had some savory corn muffins in the area, most everything is corncake (the Brazilians have it right, they call Northen cornbread cake) not cornbread.

      3. b
        baldbert Dec 31, 2010 11:54 AM

        I once mentioned this was an under-performing kitchen only to be pelted with sarcastic comments from the faithful. Hip-yes. Really great food on a regular basis- not in my experience. I'd say- as a resident of Inman Sq., aside from the seafood at ECG, the burritos at Olecita, and the ice cream at Christina's. I always marvel when people claim Inman is loaded with great choices. Actually, City Girl has always rocked tasty stuff.The exception, perhaps, along with a couple of Portuguese joints. Starlite Lounge- Hip yes. Really great food....

        6 Replies
        1. re: baldbert
          Bob Dobalina Dec 31, 2010 01:07 PM

          City Girl is very under-rated - really like the pizza there.

          1. re: baldbert
            Gabatta Dec 31, 2010 01:50 PM

            What do you think of Punjabi Dhaba? I have always found it to be good and consistent for what it is.

            I think Starlite is awful. The one time we went, not one thing off the menu was good, least of all the much lauded chicken and waffles. The specialty cocktails were a disappointment as well.

            1. re: Gabatta
              baldbert Dec 31, 2010 04:15 PM

              PD is not my favorite-- not even close. You can do far, far better up the street at Kebab Factory. Their lunch buffet is excellent.

              The Kebab Factory
              414 Washington St, Somerville, MA 02143

            2. re: baldbert
              yumyum Dec 31, 2010 05:06 PM

              I think Mucqueca and East by Northeast should be on the short list for good eats in Inman. Also, the fish and chips at the Druid.

              East by Northeast
              1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

              1. re: yumyum
                hckybg Jan 1, 2011 01:22 PM

                And the burger at the Druid. And the veggie burger at the Druid. And Oleana too. And, from early reports, Bondir, which is still awfully close to Inman. I've also never had a bad meal at Tupelo, nor have I had any problems with the fried chicken at Trina's, but I don't doubt that others have their own, different experiences. I guess I never wondered why people say there are so many good places in Inman, but I've also eaten at many of these places many times and been consistently happy with all my favorites. I have been impressed by the steady stream of new openings, including Bosphorus and the new place coming into the old Muqueca spot.

                1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                279 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

                1. re: hckybg
                  itaunas Jan 1, 2011 05:07 PM

                  I didn't get a chance to confirm it with Fafá or Antonio, but I heard they are opening a cafe in the former Muqueca space. Could be good news since in the past they sold decent salgadinhos with a good amount of "tempero verde" (not necessarily made in house) and Casal was always two left feet when it comes to salgadinhos.

                  1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

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