don’t take ourselves too seriously," says Rachel Munzer,
one of the owners of the acclaimed Boston restaurant, Hungry
Shorewood native Rachel Miller Munzer came of age working in
restaurants, starting with a job at Hubbard Park Lodge when she was
just 14, she says she never dreamed one day she would own one. "I
always knew I wanted to own a small business, but never thought it
would be a restaurant," she says.
Today, she and
three partners own one of the hottest fine dining spots in the Boston
area. Hungry Mother, a 21-table restaurant named after a state park in
Virginia, has been earning luscious praise from both professional and
consider ourselves fine dining but in a less formal atmosphere,"
Munzer says. "We have very high quality food and a lot of
integrity about the ingredients we use and where we’re sourcing it
— and everything’s made in-house. But there are no tablecloths on
Munzer and her
husband, Alon, owned a small coffee shop in Boston before teaming up
with partners John Kessen and chef Barry Maiden to create Hungry
Mother five years ago. Maiden is from southwestern Virginia and
trained in French cooking.
using all that technique and blending it with his Southern
roots," Munzer says.
The menu is
seasonal and changes almost daily, but there are some popular dishes
that Hungry Mother is known for — Antebellum Cornbread with Sorghum
Butter, French Gnocci, Wild Virginia Catfish, Wagyu Beef Tongue and
North Carolina Trout. Ingredients are sustainable, sourced from local
as well as artisanal suppliers, such as SarVecchio cheese from
Wisconsin, but that’s not something Hungry Mother even mentions on
wrote our business plan, we said we wouldn’t say, ‘organic, free
range’ — it would just say ‘fried chicken,’ but we know that’s
what we use," she explains.
Shorewood native found this stuffed mink at the Walker’s Point
Antique Market during a recent trip to Milwaukee.
something we’ve always just done from the beginning, not because it
was trendy, but we felt it was important," she says. "For
us, it was born out of an appreciation for good food." She also
wanted a place where diners could feel comfortable — not just a
destination restaurant, but a neighborhood restaurant.
she says, is "keeping everything fresh and dynamic." It’s
working. Reservations are sought-after and lines often extend out the
Mother antique picture frames are displayed on one wall, and an
industrial-influenced crystal chandelier dresses up the cozy bar.
"We don’t take ourselves too seriously," she says. That’s
evident in the washrooms. Pages from a vintage book, "The
Virginia Housewife," paper the ladies’ room walls, and in the
men’s room, the walls are livened up with illustrations from Julia
Child’s "Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 2."
little bit quirky," she says.
The next project
for Munzer and company is opening a Boston bar, which they’re
calling State Park. "Food will still be a focus, but it’ll be a
more consistent menu. It will definitely be more casual food, but
still interesting, still sticking with the Southern slant and still
keeping our integrity in the ingredients we use," she says.
husband and two daughters visited her family in Milwaukee in September
and scouted for ideas. She says they were inspired by My Office
downtown, with a window that opens onto Milwaukee Street and pickled
eggs on the menu.
While in town,
the Munzers enjoyed dinner at Bay View’s Odd Duck: "Everything
was very tasty and the service was excellent. I was very impressed
with how much they put out of their kitchen space." Then it was
on to Burnhearts, a classic bar on Logan Street in Bay View, for $2
cans of Blatz and a round or two of shuffleboard. (For the record,
Burnhearts also serves a wide variety of craft beers and cocktails.)
going to inject a little more of my Milwaukee upbringing in the new
bar," she notes. Nobody in Boston, she says, serves Bloody Marys
with a beer chaser.