Almost exactly two years ago, I lamented the closing of Magnolias Southern Cuisine, and about a year after that, another southern joint, Tupelo, opened on the very spot, apparently barely even bothering to redecorate.  It’s rather shameful that I didn’t visit for another year, but it seems that the location has retained a certain Southernness.  As Shakespeare doesn’t actually say in The Tempest, a location with a Southern complexion will not go under.

I have great comfort from this fellow: methinks he
hath no drowning mark upon him; his complexion is
perfect gallows. Stand fast, good Fate, to his
hanging: make the rope of his destiny our cable,
for our own doth little advantage. If he be not
born to be hanged, our case is miserable.

– Gonzalo, The Tempest, act I sc i

But anyway, I come to review Tupelo, not to mangle Shakespeare. OK, I’ll stop this time.  Really.

Tupelo looks and smells a lot like Magnolias,and I’m not sure they’ll ever get entirely out from under that shadow, but they do their legacy proud in my view.  Professora M had the Pan Fried Catfish With Cheddar Grits, Collard Greens & Spiced Pecan Compound Butter and I took on the special seafood gumbo with crawfish and prawns, coming late to the realization that gulf coast seafood may never be the same again.  For openers, we shortened our life expectancies with beer and cider, and a dish of crispy deep-fried cheese grits.  Let me type that again while you defibrillate.  Crispy.  Deep-Fried.  Cheese. Grits.  Oh yes and oh no all at once. Piping hot and salty, too.

The seafood entrees were filling to the point of a bit much, which is a terrible shame since the desserts were from Petsi’s Pies, including a brown sugar pecan pie that days later still haunts my dreams.  Other notables on the menu that I’ll have to return for include a brisket, gumbo, spinach ricotta crepes and a raft of tasty sides including the dreamy creamy cheesy grits and collard greens.  No sign unfortunately of Hoppin John or Shavonne for that matter, but I suppose some secrets had to die with Magnolias.

Tupelo occupies an important spot in Camberville gastronomy, the pivot point between the established Cambridge Street Inman Square corridor and the edgier things happening in the Someville side of Cambridge street Eastbound towards the Galleria.  It also holds down a solid middle ground in Northern Southern cooking between the upscale Hungry Mother and various homier options such as the Plough and Stars’ southern fried chicken and that at Coast Cafe, both previously noted here.

I know I’m leaving out a world on the other side of the Charles, but I can only eat so much of this sort of food.  Comment away, and I’ll add it to the list.