Friday, October 8, 2010
Muqueca is a little Brazilian restaurant in Inman square, and it quickly became a favorite when my parents first moved to Cambridge a few years ago. We even had them cater my college graduation party. At that time, prices were dirt cheap, they occupied a little hole in the wall space, and didn’t have a liquor license. They specialize in a seafood stew called Moqueca served in handmade clay pots. They recently moved to a slightly larger space across the street and got a liquor license. I hadn’t been to the “new” Muqueca yet, so my mom and I checked it out last weekend.
Let me preface this by saying that I generally really like the food here and that the service couldn’t have been friendlier, but they are definitely still working out the kinks in their new place. It was unclear whether or not we needed a reservation when we called. They also had only one bartender, and it was her first day. Luckily the owner is super friendly and constantly walked around to make sure everyone was okay.
We had ordered a couple of Caipirinhas and a frog leg appetizer at the bar, but got seated sooner than we had expected. The drinks eventually arrived and the appetizer shortly after. The frog legs were nicely crisp and well-seasoned, but I felt that the meat was a little over-cooked inside. I have to admit that I have never had frog legs before, so I can’t really compare them to anything. They have the texture of chicken, but taste kind of like fish. I’m not going to lie – I was a little weirded out that the frog legs seemed to still have toes, but I tried to not let it bother me!
This amazing spicy sauce was on the table, which was great with the frog legs. It tasted kind of like a piri-piri sauce. It was really, really spicy…in a good way.
We ordered two main dishes, but one would have been enough for the both of us. We went with the Fish and Calamari Moqueca and the Feijoada Completa, which the menu said is the Brazilian national dish. The Moqueca was really fresh and surprisingly light tasting. I thought it needed a little bit of salt, but the fish was all perfectly cooked. It came with a bowl of pirão, which is a yucca flour porridge that you can add as a thickener.
The Feijoada Completa was described as “Black beans stew with fresh & dried meat, pork, sausage & bacon." Served with collard greens, fried plantain, farofa & orange.” I’m seriously not sure what kinds of meat were in it, but it was really good. It was like a black bean stew with really intensely flavorful meat. It was a perfect contrast to the light seafood dish.
It came with a side of rice, shredded collard greens, fried plantains, and farofa. I had never tried or even heard of farofa, but apparently it’s a type of toasted flour. The highlights of the side platter were the plantains and the collard greens. The fried plantains were literally the best I have ever had; they were amazingly sweet, but still firm enough, and perfectly fried. The collard greens were shredded and probably sautéed, which is a different, fresh twist on the typical slow-cooked collards.
Muqueca isn’t perfect, but I think it will only get better. Despite the quirks with the service, I really enjoyed my dinner here.
1008 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02139