A Sandwich a Day: Oyster Po'boy at Tupelo in Cambridge, MA
In this great country of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around the country. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.
When Tupelo opened in 2009 to serve "comfort food with a Southern drawl," I was torn. On the one hand, I like to be comforted and I'm OK with most drawls. On the other hand, I'm convinced Van Morrison recorded "Tupelo Honey" just to distract us from how annoying "Brown-Eyed Girl" is.
I might have stood in the middle of Inman Square staring at my hands forever if a kindly stranger hadn't said something about Tupelo's excellent oyster po'boys. I've never been to New Orleans and am no po'boy aficionado, but I'm game to try any noun preceded by "excellent oyster."
This star of the Sunday brunch menu is built on a toasted white roll that mostly just sits there and holds the oysters like it's supposed to. But even though I didn't go po'boying for the bread, I should note that it was on the better side of middling despite being splotchily toasted.
Good start, but let's get to the point: The oysters were outstanding. Six medium-sized fresh ones were fried in oil running hot and clean enough to let the batter do its job, which is to crunch and protect. The batter had little if any seasoning and would have been bland on chicken or a lesser sea creature, but it was ideal for the oysters. These sweetly salty beauties had a lot to say, and the batter let them get it all out.
The Green Tabasco aioli was a pleasant surprise. Mayonnaise by any name usually makes me a P.O.'d boy, but this version lent an herbal, creamy warmth that was just enough to keep the otherwise unchallenged oysters in line. Regarding the rest of the plate, the coleslaw was coleslaw, and the assertively gingery pickles were so good that I'd happily pay a middle single figure for a side of them fried.