HOLA FLATBREADS AND TAPAS 1849 Ocean St., Unit 10, Library Plaza, Marshfield. 781-837-2900. LOCO TAPAS & WINE BAR 520 Foundry St. (Route 106), South Easton. 508-230-5626. Two restaurants are bringing an exceedingly welcome alternative to the suburbs, where a night out often means a beer and a burger at the Ninety Nine or Chili's. That's a fun way to spend an evening, but it's nice to have more sophisticated options. Hola's tapas are its strength, with its flatbreads coming in a less interesting but tasty enough second. The surprise, unbilled in its name, is a selection of Mexican-influenced dishes. It's run by the folks who used to own Saporito's in Hull, and they're pros here too. Loco offers larger plates such as paella in addition to its tapas, plus a selection of grilled items. A lounge area makes this South Easton's most happening spot by a mile.
HUNGRY MOTHER 233 Cardinal Medeiros Ave., Cambridge. 617-499-0090. When Rachel Miller Munzer and Alon Munzer ran Rachel's Kitchen in Bay Village, they made everyone feel at home. If you'd been there once, they knew your face. Twice, they knew your order. Now they've partnered with chef Barry Maiden and former Sel de la Terre manager John Kessen to open Hungry Mother, a not-quite-as-small marvel of a restaurant that expertly brings together Southern dishes and French technique. The restaurant is refined, in a hip, vintage-jacket-and-mint-julep way, but it's also comfortable. The hosts still make everyone feel at home. Maiden's food, too, is refined yet comfortable. His skills are straight out of the kitchens of L'Espalier, Sel de la Terre, and Lumiere, where he's worked. But his menu is straight out of Virginia, where he's from. It's a heartfelt salute to peanuts and sorghum, cornmeal and grits. There are no throwaway dishes here.
CENTRAL 37 21 Broad St., Boston. 617-263-0037. Chef Rene Michelena has been a force in many a fine kitchen, from La Bettola to Galleria Italiana to Centro - he is famously peripatetic. Now he's cooking at Central 37, a new restaurant in the Financial District, as well as the adjoining lounge, MKT. Central 37's menu sounds interesting, featuring the likes of sandalwood brined squab and lamb kebab with cauliflower falafel. But on each visit, with the exception of a few dishes, the food was mostly mediocre and occasionally poor. To paraphrase Woody Allen paraphrasing an old joke: And it took so long to get to the table! If Central 37 were just another Financial District stop for the after-work drinker, well, that's what it would be. But with a known talent in the kitchen, it becomes something more, or less: a disappointment.
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