Hit Wicket – Cambridge, Massachusetts

First Taste: Wicket Good

Maybe it has something to do with our revolutionary spirit, but America has never really taken to cricket. The game, which originated in England and by some accounts dates back to the 16th century, has a huge following around the world—just not here. But with the introduction of Hit Wicket, a new sports bar and restaurant set to open in Inman Square before Memorial Day, cricket audiences throughout greater Boston finally have a bar to claim. “There’s no place to go and really hang out and watch cricket as a sport,” says owner Shubha Ramesh Kumar, an India native who moved here in 2003 with her husband. “Cricket—any sport for that matter—is something that you take with you where you go. You’re not going to stop watching it if you move to a different country.”

Taking over the former Spice & Rice space on Cambridge Street, the restaurant seats 95 and boasts three TVs in the bar with five more in the dining area, one of which has an 80-inch screen. Like any sports bar, there will always be a match showing, whether it be cricket, soccer, baseball or something else. “We thought it would be a good platform to expose Americans to cricket,” Kumar says.

As both a devout sports fan (she loves the Red Sox and Celtics) and a strict vegetarian, Kumar notes that she’s often frustrated at the lack of plant-based options at casual eateries. As a result, the street-food-influenced menu at Hit Wicket features significant vegetarian and vegan options from such cricket-playing locales as Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South Africa, India, Pakistan, England, Bangladesh and the West Indies. She’s brought in Stacy Blount, who’s transitioning from running his own catering business, to help develop the meat dishes and helm the kitchen.

There are spins on typical bar food—such as the masala peanuts, roasted and topped with red onions, cilantro, green chili and chaat masala, or the chicken wings, with a choice of buffalo, grilled Jamaican jerk, or spicy lentil powder flavors—as well as options that may be new to Bostonians. The South African bunny chow, for instance, is a bread bowl filled with either garbanzo, chicken or lamb masala, topped with chopped cilantro and served with pickled peppers and red onion, lime wedges and dried lentil chips.

Kumar hopes that in addition to introducing new vegetarian-friendly flavors to the area, she’ll be able to turn a few sports lovers on to her favorite game. “I know how big baseball is in Boston,” she says, “but I want to see if they can fall in love with cricket.

Hit Wicket 1172 Cambridge St., Cambridge (617-945-9259) hitwicketbar.com

This article originally appeared in the May 8, 2013, issue of The Improper Bostonian.