Small Plates in a Small Space: Hunger Opens in Fremont

The perfect name for a restaurant
Okay, so this is the kind of thing that makes me happy to be a food writer--a sort of food-world elegant equation where tiny space + good neighborhood + blooded chefs + a screw-you-we're-doing-it-our-way kind of menu = one very happy restaurant critic.

I'm talking about Hunger, the new restaurant just opened by chef/owners Jamie Mullins and Brian Brooks in a small, wine-colored and half-hidden space at 4256 Fremont Avenue, which hooked me both because it has that kind of underground-y, shoestring vibe that I find totally charming in chef-driven operations, and seriously, what a perfect name for a restaurant, right?

The confit salad
The place has been open for all of about a week so, obviously, I haven't gotten there yet (I actually just received my first email praising it this morning). Which leaves me nothing to go on but the menu. But the menu? It looks good. Dig it: short rib sliders with garlic aioli, harissa ketchup and manchego, roasted clams and mussels with chorizo, duck confit salad with bacon and a poached egg, tortilla Espanol with romesco--and that's just the small plates. There's also big platters of wild boar osso buco and paella and harissa-smoked lamb stuffed with linguica sausage which, unlike a turducken, is the kind of food-stuffed-inside-other-food gimmick I can really get behind.

Hunger's bent is obviously Spanish. It's a tapas joint the way Ocho is--taking Spain as a base camp of inspiration, but then flowering outward into Mediterranean, French, Middle Eastern and Indian flavors.

Right now, those who've wandered into Hunger during its zero-publicity soft-open have come away just over-the-moon in love (as described by the surfeit of adjectives on, say, Yelp). And while I would normally be tempted to immediately scream vote-rigging--especially since some of the 'reviews' (of a preview dinner) are from before the place actually opened, and the rest seemed to come in awfully soon after the doors were unlocked--in this case, I don't much care. I'm sold. And I can't wait to get out to Fremont myself for a taste.

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