Monday, January 29, 2007

Muqueca - My New Favorite Restaurant

Sometimes the best restaurants are right under your nose. I have been walking by Muqueca every day on my way to and from work for the last 8 months. I guess the reason I hadn't tried it was because when I looked at the menu it appeared that their speciality was a boulliabaise-type dish which I often find disappointing at restaurants. However, I was SO WRONG.

Muqueca is an absolute delight from the brightly colored d├ęcor to the perfectly seasoned food to the dreamy bossa nova music to the warm hostess and co-owner, Fafa. The whole experience transports you temporarily to Brazil - a welcome respite on a sub-zero evening out.

The name Muqueca refers to Brazilian seafood stew, moqueca, which is cooked in homes in Espirito Santo. The moqueca is served steaming hot in handcrafted clay pots. I worried about the waitresses carrying around such hot, heavy dishes. We tried the Bacalhau a Capixaba - a moqueca with salted cod, hard boiled eggs, plantain and coconut milk. We also ordered the Mariscada - a moqueca with shrimp, crabmeat, mussels and squid with cilantro, tomato, onion and coconut milk. Both of these dishes were wonderful. It is obvious so much care goes into preparing the food. It tastes very homemade. In fact, you feel like you are in a Brazilian familiy's kichen as opposed to a restaurant. While I enjoyed both dishes, I preferred the Mariscada. It seemed that the coconut milk flavors were stronger and I loved the mix of seafood - all perfectly cooked. They also served some ground yucca on the side to sprinkle over your dish. I liked the texture it added. Tasted sort of like cornmeal.

Aside from the moquecas, we had a few appetizers, one of which is highly addictive - the Fried Yucca. Take one bite of the yucca dipped in their amazing "secret sauce" and you are already starting to think about ordering it again on another visit. So amazing. The fried calamari have a very tasty passion fruit sauce worth sampling as well.

The desserts we had were creamy and delicious. We ordered the Passion Fruit Mousse which is sweet, light with little crunchy passion fruit seeds floating on top. The gentlemen at the table ordered the Chocolate dessert which seemed to be a form of mousse pie with jimmies sprinkled on top.

There's no alcohol served however they make some mean blended fruit drinks that are not to be overlooked - mango, papaya, passion fruit and coconut milk are just a few of the mixers you can choose from.

Muqueca gets loco on Saturday nights with the crowds that pour in so you may want to make a reservation. We waited an hour for a table and there's nowhere to wait except for tucked against the door under the heater. They will let you leave the restaurant and call in to check on things but once you get a look at the food, somehow you don't want to leave for fear of losing your table to someone else.

I have since returned to Muqueca for lunch. They open at 11:30 which is great if you're trying to get an early lunch in. We ordered 2 of their soups which both tasted so homemade and delicious - Black Bean Soup and Collard Green Soup. Just $3.50 for a generous crock of soup and bread. You cannot beat that! Clearly I am well on my way to becoming a regular.

1093 Cambridge Street, Inman Square, Cambridge

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Anonymous Donna said...

Sounds great. I'm always interested in the ways bacalhau is prepared - everybody has their own secrets and I'm willing to try them all.

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Madeira Mama said...

Seems you've found the perfect place for a sumptous yet inexpensive dining treat.

6:40 PM  

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