If we're lucky, some roads lead to home cooking. For the summer-opened M3, Tennessee native Jason Owens stripped back to his basics: Southern home cooking. He dropped heavy hints of his roots at his former ventures, Newton's Biltmore and South-ie's Local 149. But they didn't have catfish like M3 has catfish.

Located in Davis Square, this small room and open kitchen are separated by an aluminum counter with stools. Sandwiching M3's nostalgic diner chic is repurposed barn wood flooring and a beautiful blue, pressed tin ceiling.

M3's down-home cooking ideals of meat and three vegetables -- hence the name, or did you get that already? -- is a theme, not a dictate. Choose a "standard," say chicken and waffles, progressively made with kinder, unclipped wings. Or choose your flesh-tender chicken fried steak, flattened into succulence and crisp coated. Or that cornmeal coated fried catfish. No bells and whistles with this one, just fresh, pan-fried fish. And three sides! This includes everything from fingerling and root veg hash to a crisp apple and jicama slaw.

Pickles play a big part in brightening carb-heavy Southern cuisine. There's all manner of pickled veggie garnishes, and pickles can be ordered by themselves for a low calorie nibble. A pickled jalapeno spices up a bowl of giant shrimp and creamy grits made with tangy Welsh Caerphilly cheese, which doesn't swamp the cornmeal with fat like cheddar. M3's fried green tomatoes are pickled and flavored with hints of cloves. Fried okra? Pickled, too.

A taste of the South


M3 is café-like, if lattes were swapped for sweet tea sipped from Mason jars. Talking of sweet: Desserts nod to Somerville with the infa-mous PB&M, an in-house made fluffernutter, and to the South. Vying with the catfish in the best-ever stakes, the moist red velvet cake flecked with lightly cooked strawberries is baked by Southie’s Blue Tierra. Entrees range from $9 to $18.

382 Highland Ave., Somerville, 617-718-6666, www.imwithmeat.com