Dining » Dining Review

The bigger the Mama, the better

Old favorites, new grill items in new location.

by and

NEW LOCATION: Same goood food.
  • NEW LOCATION: Same goood food.
Clintonites James Carville and George Stephanopoulos, two of the more famous regular patrons of Your Mama’s Good Food during the restaurant’s early-1990s infancy, wouldn’t recognize the place today. They’d have to look around for it now, too. Your Mama’s Good Food has moved from the Louisiana Street location it occupied for more than 12 years to the former Blue Plate Special space in the Tower Building, on Fourth Street between Center and Louisiana. Owner Barbara Stockman made the shift around Thanksgiving, and the decor is slowly but surely coming around. This spot is cleaner and better lit and, like the former locale, it bustles as tables turn quickly. There’s plenty to watch, inside and on the street. The food, meanwhile, is in great shape. Along with a much larger dining room and a bigger area to display the cafeteria-style setup of meats and veggies that Stockman and her staff hand-prepare each day, Your Mama’s is putting a grill to good use for burgers, sandwiches and steak plates. As with her old locale, Stockman is still behind the bar ready to dish up some of the delicious Mama’s meat loaf (“a small portion or large,” she asks the customer, “And would you like Creole sauce?”). We can’t find anything prefab here: For instance, you can tell with the chicken-fried steak that someone has been hammering cuts into a tenderness that our 84-year-old auntie and her bad teeth could still handle. Same for the mashed potatoes, the black-eyed peas, the turnips. Somebody’s taken some time on these. If you’re going to call yourself Mama and proclaim “good food,” you’d better. “One piece or two?” Stockman asks about the meat choice. Mama likes her diners well-fed. (Did we mention Your Mama’s has a $9 all-you-can-eat plate? She had it before, but with the new spiffy look all around, those plates on the wall with the prices on them are even easier to see.) We’ve ordered meat loaf so many times from here in the past decade-plus, we’re surprised we don’t moo, so we checked out a special of the bird variety. Roasted herbed chicken, carrots, green bean casserole. One piece of meat and two sides only cost $5.45 (it’s a mere $1 more for a two-meat-two-veggie plate), plus we got one of Mama’s famed yeast rolls. With butter and honey, the bread at Your Mama’s eats like dessert, and that’s how we ate it. Even with prominently posted signs on the door and in front of the line, it was only then, at our table, that we caught the colorful notice of the new grilled items, the possibility of onion rings, baked potatoes, french fries. Hey, when you’re salivating over having those real smashed potatoes, it’s easy to miss something you weren’t expecting. So, we’re telling you now: Consider the grill items, though you’ll have to add in about 15 minutes to the time you’ve allotted for lunch. Two of us went back to chow down on grill selections: one, a well-seasoned hamburger steak, a hot baked potato with sour cream, a small tossed salad (in a plastic container, the only downer) with Thousand Island dressing, and, yes, the huge yeast roll. And two onion rings for a lagniappe. Our dining companion, who went with the cheeseburger basket, made a last-second switch from fries to the onion rings as well. Good call, he said with a wide smile later, proclaiming these beer-battered babies (again, somebody hand-made these in the kitchen) with hardly any residual grease the best onion rings he’d had in some time. We’d concur. These are not of the famed thin-ring Cuz Fisher’s-style with the flaky breading, not the Sonic style, but more like the thick batter that coats shrimp at local seafood joints, or that covered the rings at an old barbecue joint we used to frequent in Fayetteville (B&B, though with far less greasy sogginess than those had). Our plates were soon cleared as we both commented on our respective servings: leaner than most hamburger, still juicy in the middle, not seasoned as much as, say, a Sports Page burger, but still with a nice taste. And, with dining companion’s eyes fixed on our yeast roll, we gladly shared “dessert.” A footnote: We had intended to include a review of Mary’s, which opened recently on Louisiana Street two doors down from the old Your Mama’s location and is operated by the folks who own the Factory nightclub. Alas, the sit-down daily lunch service, which we thought was decent, didn’t last long; a sign in the door last week said Mary’s was now only offering catering service. Good luck getting an answer at the number they list: 372-2300. Your Mama’s Good Food Three stars Tower Building 372-1811 Quick bite Same great plate-lunch institution, now with grilled items, in a new location. The home-style food is consistently good. It’s hard for anyone to beat the huge yeast rolls, which, doused with honey, make a great dessert. Hours 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays. Possibility of breakfast hours forthcoming. Other information Inexpensive. Credit cards accepted. No alcohol.

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