WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? AMELIA’S KITCHEN POPS

Vegetarian appetizers from Amelia’s Kitchen include grilled corn and sweet potato and black bean chili.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

In April, new signage marked a name-change for Pop’s Garage at the Grove West in Shrewsbury to Amelia’s Kitchen. Still part of the local restaurant-empire owned by the Schlossbach family, Marilyn and Richard take a back seat to brother Arthur’s management on this one, which is now named for his daughter, who’s been “been busting [his] tail to make things healthier,” he tells PieHole.

The garden and patio seating outside still segue into an eye-popping kaleidoscope of color inside, and the kid-friendly, party-like atmosphere still comes with a Mexican-themed menu. But Amelia’s tends more to lighter, Baja-inspired cuisine, and a new farm-to-table focus means tacos are out while fresh salads are in.
The mahi lettuce wrap and blackened chicken wrap garnished with side salad and pico de gallo. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

“Mexican food is not healthy cuisine. It’s high in fat and carbs,” says Schlossbach. The recent changes mean a greater concentration on seafood and vegetables. Where the menu previously included two salads, it now has four, he notes.

It would be easy here to make a lunchtime meal from appetizers alone. A cup of sweet potato and black bean chili ($4) arrives as a hearty portion, and minus the swirl of sour cream, it’s a vegan option.

The veggie stew, filled with carrots, beans, and chunks of white sweet potatoes, is mild, leaving barely a tickle of heat on lips and tongue. But hit it with a shot of the Mazi Piri Piri hot sauce on the table, and all of the flavors come to attention.

The grilled corn ($4) was a decent representation of Mexican street corn: a fresh cob treated to a slather of chipotle aioli and a light dusting of cotija cheese. Mild enough for a child’s palate, it was sweet, smoky, and salty, with barely a hint of incendiary oomph.

A plate covered in romaine lettuce and pico de gallo included two decent sized pieces of mahi mahi fish, shreds of red cabbage and bits of sweet plantain, all wrapped in lettuce leaves ($16). Vinaigrette in a small ramekin on the side brightened up the salad, and was perfect for dipping the taco-less lettuce wrap.

A grilled and blackened chicken in a tomato-basil tortilla came lubricated with avocado cream and served with a side of pico de gallo and mixed greens.

Amelia’s Kitchen is open for lunch at 11 a.m. seven days a week. Seasonal seating on a patio surrounded by gardens is available, and the restaurant is BYOB.

SUSAN-ERICSON

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