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Jun 29, 2012 06:27 AM

First try, M3 in Davis Square

My wife and I went to M3 last night in Davis Square, knowing it had been open not more than a few weeks. The interior is very funky, with tables that look and function like chalkboard (with chalk provided) for dinner-waiting tic-tac-toe games. Empty picture frames hang on the wall with specials written inside them, a small bar of maybe half a dozen seats line the back. There are maybe 12-18 tables inside, all fairly close together.

Our first impression was, it's hot! Either the AC wasn't working, or there needs to be better ventilation, but even after the sun had begun to set last night, I still felt a bit sweaty sitting inside the restaurant.

(From memory) we ordered:
Appetizers: Salad ($5), fried green tomatoes ($5), 'wooly' pig prosciutto ($6)
Mains: Shrimp and Grits ($13), 1/2 Roasted Chicken special with garlic lime spicy fries ($17).

I thought the fried green tomatoes were by far the stand-out appetizer. They must have been pickled in a very tangy vinegar, then lightly fried. The portion size was decent, 6-8 slices with a dipping sauce that tasted more like ranch dressing than anything. Skip the dressing, eat the tomatoes on their own. The pig prosciutto had pretty much no taste at all, I would pass on it next time for something with more flavor.

The shrimp and grits came with fried okra and four pretty-large juicy shrimp. I thought the dish was quite tasty, and didn't leave me with the "I just ordered a heavy dish on a 90F degree night" feeling. Okra were very flavorful, and heavily not fried. My wife had the 1/2 chicken which took up most of her plate, on top of dirty rice. I found the chicken to be extremely juicy and flavorful, along with the rice.

I would definitely go back again in a few months once some kinks have been ironed out. Not one to find blame in everything, I think there are a few things they still need to work out:
* There is only one ordering/payment computer. So it was not uncommon during the meal to look up and see the station 4-5 deep with wait staff lined up to enter in orders and clear checks. This ended up crowding the tables behind them.
* Often several of the wait staff came over during our meal asking the same questions. No we didn't want to order drinks or more food.
* Ventilation: Either keep the doors open, get some ceiling fans or install AC. If last night was any indication, these next few days of heat wave temperatures will make the restaurant almost unbearable.

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  1. I went recently (the second night they were open) and found the food to be quite a bit worse than you described. I suspect it was opening jitters, but the meats were painfully overcooked and underseasoned. The worry I have is that even when properly cooked, they won't be that great. The berkshire pork chop with pecans and maraschino was just some chopped pecans tossed on the dried out pork with three maraska cherries on top. It's not really a well-thought meat option. And, if they are going for the Meat + approach, they really need to deliver on the meats.

    The sides were ok, except the sprouts were basically raw. The rest of the sides tasted fine, but they all seemed like things you could easily whip up at home for a picnic, which is not great for a restaurant. The cornbread was no better than something from a box mix.

    The hog wings were really tasty, with a great, tangy mustard bbq sauce. I'll go back just for those. Those things have been a minor trend, but they really should take off soon.

    I love the general approach and the feel of the place - and things like the basically universal chalkboard. I just hope they start nailing the meats consistently. Otherwise I suspect that it will be like Trina's for me - well-loved by a enough people to stay crowded but never worth it for me because I think the food is totally mediocre.

    Also, I think they should automatically offer glasses with the beers. While cans are better vessels for storing beer than bottles, drinking directly from the can kills those benefits.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DoubleMan

      That's about how my experience was. The fried chicken was bland and dry (even the dark meat!). I really liked the atmosphere and it's conveniently located, but I am unlikely to keep going unless the food drastically improves.

    2. Online reviews seem to be more miss than hit, which is unfortunate since for health reasons Americans need to eat more meat. :-(

      1. DC and I went last night and we can't wait to go back (but on a cooler day!) It was so hot in there! We loved the selection of canned beer, which helped us keep cool. We sat at the counter and had the pleasure of chatting with Patrick who was busy multitasking.

        Started with the pate de campagne- delish. The pickled smoked onions were wonderful. Pimento cheese toast was great as were the deviled eggs. We loved the variety of pickled veg.

        Highly recommend chicken and waffles- nice blend of savory and sweet.

        The special of the night was smoked prime rib which looked amazing. Will be going back asap!

        2 Replies
        1. re: pang

          That is really interesting that the chicken and waffles was good, since my fried chicken was awful. Maybe they just needed a bit more time to work things out? They did have a blackberry tart that was so, so delicious. I am still thinking about it.

          1. re: maillard

            I've seen a lot more negative reviews on the chicken than positive, and there hasn't been an upward trend or anything. Hopefully they're getting it together though.

        2. We double dated in order to eat as much of the menu as possible on Saturday. It was a mistake.

          TL; DR: pickled eggs, venison summer sausage, sweet potato casserole, pickles - good; everything else - eh.

          The long version:
          Pickled Eggs: yum! How can pickled eggs be bad?
          Venison Summer Sausage: delicious
          BBQ Duck over jicama- apple slaw: way to not render the fat at all; slaw was refreshing
          fried frog legs - overcoated
          fried cheese curds: not unlike mozzarella sticks, just about as enticing
          pickles: perfect
          shrimp & grits: DCs raved about it, but as there were only 3 shrimp, I didn't want to steal from them to try it
          country fried steak: at once overcoated, mushy, stringy
          sweet potato casserole: covered in pecans and marshmallow - my personal dream
          brussel sprouts: a little underdone, but not awful
          jalapeno-cheddar grits: both gummy and lumpy
          pimento cheese fries: no, just no

          The AC was barely functioning, but the canned beer list is varied and well-curated. The cakes at the counter seemed to be melting in the heat, otherwise I probably would have tried some as I was still starving by the time dinner ended (that's what happens when you only eat one bite of each plate).

          1 Reply
          1. re: gini

            The AC/Heat issue has been a common theme in reviews on multiple sites. That alone is enough to keep me away :)

          2. Just tried M3 for the first time, and it was a bit of a mixed bag. As others have pointed out, the place is kind of stifling. No A/C, just one fan, and the smell of grease and frying hangs heavy in the air. I kind of wanted a shower after I left.

            Pickled eggs: Okay! Three eggs for $2.
            Assorted pickles: Also tasty! The place knows its pickle brine.
            Fried green tomatoes: Very greasy, but nicely brined. Smoked blue cheese was nice.
            Pickled fried pigs' ears: Greasy but more flavorful than I expected -- sort of maple-flavored.
            Chicken liver pate: Decent flavor. Nice lump of pate.
            Mom's meatloaf: Heavy meatloaf with a heavy gravy.
            Chicken & waffles: Waffles & syrup were decent enough; chicken needed seasoning. Just tasted like plain batter and clean grease. Eh.
            Pimento cheese fries: Eh. No taste of pimento cheese at all. Just sort of warm and salty and gooey.
            Fried fluffernutter: Tasted like something I'd get at the Big E.

            Note: I asked for the brussels sprouts, but was warned that they 'sometimes come out really underdone if the cook's rushing them'. At the time, I was one of three couples in the place, so I don't know why the cook would feel 'rushed'. I gave them a miss to not give the cook a panic attack over sprouts.

            Oddity: They kept giving us lite beer and diet sodas by default. We had to ask for non-diet, non-lite versions. Do my DC and myself look extra chunky?

            Overall it was a nice assortment of flavors, and there's other things I'd go back for to try, but by no means am I calling my friends to schedule a group meal there (like I did with Strip T's when I went for the first time).