Mama’s Boy

May 5, 2007

When Mama’s Boy first opened last spring(?), we hurried to try it out. Tim’s folks were in town, and we’re always trying to force them (in a respectful, loving way, of course) outside the box (read: prison) of the chain restaurant (woa — I’m just seeing the fabulous pun there!!) vicious cycle.

Disclaimer: Despite my above cheap & easy attempts at humor, this website was not designed to make moral judgments about eating at chain restaurants. I have my complaints about them, as I’m sure do many people, but I also frequent a handful of them, they are what they are, and have a purpose. Plus, if a person truly enjoys the food they eat at one, then by all means that’s all that matters. I have a feeling a future post could address this subject in more detail.

Anyway, our first experience was nice, but not fabulous. It was their opening weekend, and you could tell. Tim did get an incredible plate of fried chicken, but I got a vegetarian dish that was so unremarkable I can’t even remember it. We ordered a milkshake that took about half an hour to make (no exaggeration), so long we got it comped at our server’s insistence. Plus, we felt the whole meal was a bit overpriced for the product they were selling. We have not been back — not because of any ill-feeling, but just because we haven’t made much effort.

Until this morning. Earlier this week, Tim attended a meeting where his boss brought everyone egg biscuits from Mama’s Boy. He was quite taken with this biscuit, and suggested we give it another shot, specifically for breakfast this morning. We hit it at the perfect time — maybe it’s the overcast weather, but we were immediately seated in a partially-filled dining room, arriving at about 9:15 (I would’ve thought the place would be packed by then, it’s become notorious for a packed house, especially for Sunday lunch).

Let me first comment on the helpfulness and friendliness of the staff. Not in a sugar-coated way; but genuinely helpful and seemingly quite content to be there, serving good breakfast to hungry people. Now, nice servers don’t make bad food good, but a bad server can sometimes sour an otherwise lovely meal. (Tim and I have both been servers before, so while we are good tippers and willing to forgive many restaurant mishaps, we have little patience for snootiness, laziness, or huffiness.)

As is our usual custom, we order two entrées with the intention of splitting both. And, as is our usual custom when eating out for breakfast or brunch, we order one savory and one sweet. Now, my eyes immediately landed on the Salmon Cakes Benedict. You can guess the description — salmon cakes, topped with a poached egg and dilled hollandaise. But we went to get the biscuit, and we can’t break with custom, so Tim suggested that the salmon cakes wait until our next visit. And yes, that means there will be a next visit. I will hold him to it.

So we had the savory dish figured out — a good ol’ bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. That left the sweet dish, and the winner was chosen for two reasons: 1) it was quite highly recommended by my friend Gretchen, who had it a month or so ago, and 2) there just aren’t that many sweet choices on the menu. No pancakes (to Ada’s great disappointment), no waffles. There was a chocolate cake (yes! on the breakfast menu!), but that’s a little over-the-top for me. So the sweet choice was the Georgia Peach-stuffed French Toast.

I’ll start with the biscuit. It wasn’t fussy, wasn’t primped, wasn’t garnished. But it was a home-run combination of flavors, and totally hit the spot. The biscuits are a little sweet, sweeter than most I’ve had. And normally I might be wary of a sweet biscuit — I mean, that’s what honey and jam are for, right? But combined with the thick bacon and smoked — this is key — smoked cheddar, the sweetness was perfect. So I inhaled my half-biscuit, scooped food into Townes’s mouth in-between bites, and moved on to our breakfast-dessert.

The french toast was not what I expected. I was thinking, thick slices of ripe peaches stuffed between layers of egg-coated bread. It was more like a peach sauce — you could still see tiny bits of peach, but it was almost minced, and thinned. So it wasn’t bursting with peach flavor. But topped with the vanilla whipped cream, it was about as much as I could ask from french toast. And I do mean that as a compliment. It didn’t need a single drop of the syrup that came on the side, and between myself, Tim and Ada, we practically licked the plate.

Tim was still hungry (splitting and sharing your meals with your 3-year old doesn’t always make for a full belly) so he ordered a biscuit with gravy. I was stuffed, and didn’t taste it, but in his words, “it was a good filler.”

One of the best parts was that the meal was very reasonably priced. We got out of there with $15 less in our pockets, tip included. We didn’t have coffee (I had my required 2 cups before I was able to dress and leave the house), so I couldn’t use my previous post as a segway, nor can I comment on the quality. But overall, I say, if you’re in Athens, and want breakfast, skip BCB for once and go to Mama’s Boy. ‘Cause somewhere around these parts, a boy is making his mama proud.

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