Wednesday, December 25, 2013

State Park Opens in Kendall Square

I've been racking my brain and the internet, but I cannot think of the name I've heard for the sort of restaurant where they do cheap and/or down home types of food and drinks but with gastro flare and, of course, gastro chic prices. For that is State Park, Hungry Mother (ecstatic review from me coming soon!) owner John Kessen's new venue, this time even more casual. There's a short and somewhat withholding menu of Southern Food, or, maybe it should just be called Kentuckian, from what I can figure.

It's a large space with tables of various sizes in a few different rooms, a bar, a pool table, a shuffleboard, and two pinball machines.



Fried Pickled Okra ($5.95): Whole okra fried in cornmeal. Do not pop one in your mouth straightaway! Cut them open, breathe, then eat or dip. They're served with a type of ranch that's blessedly thin and delicious, with celery salt and other seasonings that make it not just ranch. When I ordered a side of buttermilk ranch ($1.25 on our menu), our server told us that the fried okra came with a ranch-like something. If this place had two ranches, I wanted them both, said I. The official ranch did seem a bit thicker and slightly differently seasoned. I loved 'em both.

Snappy Lunch's Fried Cutlet ($9.95): They accidentally brought us this when we ordered the other pork sandwich. Didn't try it but thought you might like to see it.



Pork Sandwich, the Smoked, BBQ'd, and Chopped version (also $9.95): On yummy ghetto white bread with tasty chopped pork and a cole slaw. We were hoping for something a bit more interesting or mind-blowingly delicious, but this was like if your mother was really good at packing a picnic.

Fried Chicken (Tabasco Honey version, $18): The tabasco honey sauce was a great compliment to the juicy meat. We got two breasts, a drumstick and a thigh, and we would've traded all the white meat away for more thighs. We were hoping for Deep Southern fried chicken with thicker crispy buttermilk-soaked and breaded than this lighter battering.

The Cornmeal Catfish ($12.50) is a large pile of fried strips and chunks of catfish, served with a few hush puppies. The Beer Nuts ($4) looked good. We learned the Hoppin' John with Potlikker ($9.50) is a soup with black-eyed peas, collards, hams, and more. The Kentucky Hot Brown ($13) is an open-face sandwich (or, perhaps more accurately, a pile) with turkey, cheese, something, something, and a dollop of smoked tomato something, with two pieces of bacon on the side.


Fried Apple Pie ($6.95): After being informed that the chef won't let it out until it reaches the perfect temperature, we were amused when our waitress brought it out with a can of Reddi Whip, like they wanted us to know it was Reddi Whip, to emphasize how down home and unpretentious it was. Pretentiously unpretentious was that move, particularly adjacent to the chef being "a perfectionist about the timing." The pie was good, nothing special, but good.

We realized that the "food"s portion of the menu is potentially for sharing, to be accompanied with sides. The carrots for instance are pan-fried in sorghum and butter. Maybe anything above $10 is a sharing plate. Anyway, I want to go back. It's a fun kind of place. And I really want to try the "Nashville Hot" and the Kentucky Hot Brown. Just don't go with Hungry Mother quality expectations.

For a review with some of the menu I didn't get to, check out Pig Trip's.

State Park on Urbanspoon