Mama's on Dauphin
Known as simply Mama's, Mama's on Dauphin reeks of southern hospitality. With the great mural lining the walls, it reminds me of those old movies where ladies in wide-brim hats sit on a wrap around porch and eat lunch or have tea. Located right in the heart of the historic downtown Mobile, Mama's is just a short walk from Bienville Square, hotels and a few boutiques. It seems like a great place to have lunch by yourself or with a friend. The menu is eclectic but largely based on southern and Cajun influences.
How can anyone go to a southern-style diner and not order fried green tomatoes? Apparently, not my brother. He told me he has been craving the southern delicacy and couldn't wait to bite into one. I was a little skeptical since I am very picky about fried green tomatoes. I need not to worry, these were delicious. The batter was wonderfully crispy but the tomatoes were just cooked enough. It wasn't too soggy and the distinct tomato flavor was still there. It was served with a horseradish ranch dipping sauce that paired with it well. I was also pleased with the amount in the serving. At $7.50 a plate, I would have been supremely disappointed if I got only four or five slices. There was at least two full tomatoes on that plate. I could have literally had these as my lunch entree and be more than happy.
When I try out a new restaurant, I always ask my server what should I get. I figure they would want me to have the best experience possible and would not steer me wrong. Fortunately, this tactic has worked out well for me. This time, my waitress suggest my brother and I try the daily specials, which was the choice between three entrees and two sides for just under $8. My brother and I decided to get the Chicken fried steak with mash potatoes and gravy and chicken and dumplings.
I'm nearly positive I'm speaking for a wide majority of southerners when I say chicken and dumplings is the ultimate comfort food. It's such a simple combination of flavors but one false move and it's a disaster. Mama's version consist of huge chunks of white meat chicken and nearly the same size dumplings. It was so thick I forgo the spoon and dug in with my fork. I also thought it was perfectly seasoned. The flavors of the chicken in the stock really shined through. I ordered the collard greens and mac and cheese as sides and thought my homemade versions were better. The cornbread muffin that came with the dish was hard as a rock though.
My brother went for the other special of the day - country-fried steak. I thought the steak was nicely seasoned and tender. The country gravy was great. My only complaint is it was the food wasn't quite hot. I thought it was more on the cold side myself but my brother called it room temperature. That could be the result of not timing the courses well. We weren't even halfway through with our appetizers when our meals came out. My brother opted to finish the fried green tomatoes before digging in. Next time, we may have to forgo appetizers so we both get hot meals. The sides this time was fried okra and a sweet potato casserole. The okra was good but it didn't taste homemade and I would have preferred the casserole to be thicker but the flavors were nice. All in all, the food is fair for the price.
Aside from bad timing of the meals, the service was good. Although we had an assigned server, it looked more like a team effort. There was someone different taking orders, bringing food, refilling drinks and even cashing us out. It was seamless but I did get confused on who I should flag down if I had issues. Mama's could easily be 100 feet deep but no more than 15 feet wide which made for a little tight spaces. I was very afraid my purse would swing and hit someone's head while I was walking to and from my table. It doesn't feel crowded when you sit down though. The high ceilings and table set up made it appear to be much roomier. To check out Mama's menu click here.