It is worth starting dinner that soon. We began with corn bread. It was the cakey variety and was helped with a big smear of butter.
However, it was good that we didn't fill up on bread, as we got hooked on the "Fried Grits" appetizer. What arrived were small squares of nuggets. They were perfectly fried and salted and the crisp outside yielded to smooth, creamy grits. These could beat french fries anytime.
The fried oysters were also well-cooked and were plump and fresh. They were best with a quick shake of salt and the homemade spicy remoulade sauce.
We also dug into the homemade pickles that were distinguished by a smoky taste, which, not coincidentally came from liquid smoke.
We shared 3 main dishes. First, a jambalaya made with andouille sausage, mussels and crab. It was good, though a bit heavy on the vinegar.
Next, a plate of pork: served shredded and on the bone. It was served with BBQ beans and homemade coleslaw. The beans were clearly homemade, instead of canned, and the pickles added a freshness to the dish.
However, the star was the catfish for two reasons. First, it was perfectly seasoned and cooked. The remoulade added a sharp bite. The cheddar grits were a perfect bed for the fish. Yet what brought the dish all together were the pickled tomatillos.
One of the chefs was kind enough to share how he made them. The secret? They are chilled and salted overnight, and then simmered in vinegar. The result was a sweet pickle with just a bit of heat that contrasted beautifully with the fish.
As we had hoped the pies, made fresh and delivered from Petsis each day, were delicious.
Despite being full, we dove into 3: a chocolate cake, a brown butter pecan with bourbon ice cream and a banana cream pie with meringue and caramel sauce.
They were all so good.
The atmosphere at Tupelo is relaxing and casual. The prices are also reasonable-averaging about $15.00 for a main dish. So go, and go early, and enjoy.
Tupelo, 1193 Cambridge St. (Inman Square), 617-868-0004
Petsis Pies, Somerville and Cambridge