Nothing beats great comfort food. Last week we got a dose of Southern hospitality at Mama’s Boy Southern Table & Refuge in SoNo. Upon stepping into the restaurant, we were greeted by owner Greer Fredericks. We grabbed a few cocktails at the bar and mingled with local food bloggers – Anatoli from Talk-A-Vino, Bonnie from Home Place, Kait and Jeff from forloveofcarrots.com, Christina and Jeff from cookingwithjeffandcristina.com, Valerie from BonVivant, and Jenn from That’s So Jenn.
With my Dirty South (a concoction of homemade sweet tea, Fire Fly Vodka, and lemon) in hand I scoped out the place. The restaurant felt warm and inviting with a rustic interior made with reclaimed wood from an old water tower from Florence, SC. In the middle of the restaurant, you can check out what the cooks are prepping through the large cutout which also has gorgeous cakes presented on their pedestals. How tempting it was to reach out and taste some of the frosting. But I had some self control.
Jay had the Best Dang Manhattan You Ever Had (What a name for a cocktail) made with High West Son of Bourye, Cocchi, Bittermens, and a Maraschino Cherry. Was it the best? I’ll let Jay be the judge of that. Other drinks we enjoyed were the Sangria and my favorite – the Dirty Okra Martini. Yup, they basically swapped the olives with pickled okra and mixed in Rime Vodka.
|Best Dang Manhattan You Ever Had|
After some chit chat, we were seated and served some Redneck Edamame. Such a clever name for Georgia peanuts boiled in a house spice blend. As I was cracking the shells I thought, hey…this is like eating edamame. I love boiled peanuts, especially the ones at Mama’s Boy. The peanuts had a lot of flavor, and it was hard not digging into the pail to get more.
We were also served some warm corn muffins accompanied with honey butter and tangy spicy pepper jelly. I thought the miniature muffins were fine alone, but still slathered some love on them anyway.
A plate of Deviled Eggs landed on our table. They were delicious, and had a bit of smokiness to them, mainly coming from the house-smoked Tasso. Served with the eggs were okra pickles, which I’ve never had before and wouldn’t mind having a jar of.
The next dish we tried was the Fried Chicken Crisps. Boy it felt so wrong eating them, but it was so right to. The chicken crisps are actually battered chicken skins paired with pickled beets and jalapeno-garlic honey. I laughed when Anatoli stopped by our table and called them “Redneck Calamari.”
|Fried Chicken Crisps|
The Charleston Crab Cake was one of my favorite dishes. The cake was made with chunks of crab meat bound together with the ideal amount of breadcrumb and laid atop a bed of creamed corn, bacon, and red pepper.
|Charleston Crab Cake|
The Low-country Bouillabaisse was my favorite dish. Bouillabaisse is a traditional Provençal fish and shellfish stew. At Mama’s Boy, you’re served a castiron pot filled with Grouper, white shrimp, mussels, house-smoked andouille, baby corn, potato, and shrimp broth. This was absolutely delicious. The seafood was perfectly cooked. The shrimp snapped in every bite. The broth was amazing – a perfect melody of spicy sausage and mild seafood flavor. I dipped my bread into the broth to savor every ounce of it.
By the time the BLT Salad came, I was already full. Their BLT Salad is a serving of layered goodness: artisan lettuce dressed in a buttermilk-herb dressing, topped with fried green tomato and crisp candied bacon. I thought the bacon was a little too sweet, but that didn’t stop me from eating it.
The Shrimp and Grits (white shrimp, Fall’s Mill grits, house-smoked Tasso, spring onion, pimento cream gravy was also a hit. Every time we travel to the South, we order Shrimp and Grits. Each spoonful made me feel like I was down South, but I was in South Norwalk. The grits were creamy and butter. The shrimp was excellent. Throw in some cubes of Tasso, and you’ve got a winner.
|Shrimp and Grits|
|The Little Yardbird|
At this point, my stomach could not handle any more, so I tasted The Little Yardbird. Basically it’s Chicken and Waffles – marinated country fried game hen, corn bread waffle, braised collard greens, Brookside Farms maple syrup, and habañero jelly. If I wasn’t stuffed, I would have devoured the whole thing.
|Crispy Pork Shank|
The Crispy Pork Shank was described by our waitress, Nicole, as a mini-stegosaurus as what we were served was a 1 pounder versus the 3 pounds that is normally served. It reminded me of crispy pata, a Filipino dish of deeply fried pork legs. Here, the pork shank is fried to perfection and laid on a delicious Sea Island red pea maque choux. The pork was a little fatty for me, so I was scraping off the fat, but the meat was tender and delicious. We had to get this packed to go since it was too good to waste. Of course, we finished it the next day.
|Trio of Cakes|
And finally, the night ended with a trio of cakes – Red Velvet Cake, Spice Cake and Carrot Cake. My favorite was the spice cake, though the carrot cake was also delicious. I’m biased and not a fan of red velvet, but it tasted good. So why are there cakes for dessert, and why are they so big? Owner Greer explained that when we was 5 years old, she always wanted “the big cake.” So when she opened up this restaurant, big cakes had to be on the dessert menu.
|Interior of Mama’s Boy|
Overall, a great experience. Definitely a spot we’d come back to, especially for brunch.
Disclosure: Dinner was free of charge. The opinions expressed are my own and I received no further compensation from Mama’s Boy or their representatives.