Monday, July 22, 2024

The roasted chicken comes with sweet potato mash and broccolini at Mothership in North Cambridge. (Photo: Tom Meek)

Mothership finally landed out by the Alewife T station in late 2023 after years of stops and starts – most of that being Covid, but also area construction and other logistical bumps. The spot, which one could envision as a family dinner destination or place to catch a Celtics or Bruins game (the Red Sox and Patriots are going to be godawful for the next five to 10 years, so let’s just call it what it is), is the brainchild of the folks behind Revival Cafe and Commonwealth Market in Kendall Square, which closed recently after a 10-year run. This new, open space with Peter Max-esque decor is a Revival Cafe during the day and Mothership beer hall by night. Originally Revival, which also has locales in Davis Square and downtown Boston with more coming, was on the backside of the Cambridgepark Drive building, which made it convenient to families and folks wandering the Alewife Brook Reservation and on the Fitchburg Cutoff Bike and Pedestrian Path just across the parking lot, but construction to the building forced the team to pivot. From a management perspective, one consolidated space and one kitchen has got to make for greater efficiency.

We’ve extolled the healthy comfort of Revival’s menu, namely its kimchi grain bowl, which has been rebranded as the Leonardo da Kimchi, and its Fried Chicken Fridays (a new spin on the recipe each TGIF). The evening culinary swing into Mothership is no different, a combination of the cafe’s homey comfort and Commonwealth’s upscale casual. The slate of plates is not vast, but it covers the bases of family dinner, shareable snacks, libations, vegetarian options and rib-sticking fill-ups. The harissa humus headlines the shares; you can get it with housemade taro chips or grilled carrots that also come with a hot honey to dip into. Other communal comestibles include a baked crab dip, fried pork dumplings, fried cheese raviolis with marinara sauce (winner!) and fried mac n cheese with Cheez Whiz – yup, you get to double your cheesiness.

Mothership in North Cambridge near Alewife. (Photo: Tom Meek)

Over on the mains, you have on one end of the food scale the steak frites that was the cornerstone of Commonwealth, as well as a double smash burger (all the rage these days, and those screaming that it’s passé should still appreciate how well it sears and seals in the flavor). On the other end is faro salmon and acorn squash stuffed with brown rice, quinoa, raisins, broccoli, crispy onions tangy-ed up with a harissa vinaigrette. In between is where I landed, the homey roasted chicken with sweet potato mash, broccolini, sweet and tender cipollini onions and chicken jus. The broccolini was sautéed into a pleasant tenderness, but not limp, and the chicken had crispy skin, not too much jus, and was tender, moist and flavorful throughout, with the sweet mash there to bring all the flavors together. 

As advertised there’s beer on tap, mostly local craft brews. You can get your PBR on too, as well as some inventive juice and soda cocktail spins such as the Cha Cha Matcha, a coconut-matcha-infused tequila with honey and lemon juice. There’s an equally extensive slate of well-curated mocktails and a decent wine selection – the orange is quite respectable. As for that easy access to the bike path and verdant, walkable waterway, that disappeared when construction fencing went up for the city’s installation of a raised bike path along Cambridgepark Drive last year; a bisecting path was added that bridged the two and installed a Bluebikes station.

Mothership is fun for a pop-in or hangout and hosts events (the night I was there, there was a market of local crafts, cards and wares) and has a communal, festive vibe. Did I mention that in the middle of it all is shuffleboard?

Mothership, 125 Cambridgepark Drive, in North Cambridge near Alewife

Tom Meek is a writer living in Cambridge. His reviews, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in the WBUR ARTery, The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Globe, The Rumpus, The Charleston City Paper and SLAB literary journal. Tom is also a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and rides his bike everywhere.