Mama’s Boy Southern Table and Refuge in SONO welcomed us with open arms as we sat down for our food blogger dinner Tuesday night. We experienced a playful menu that didn’t take itself too seriously, although the quality of Chef Scott Ostrander’s locally sourced selections was no joke.
The place is named after Co-Owner Greer Frederick’s son who was only a few months old at the time of construction. You can feel her heart and soul in each detail of the establishment, radiating a down-home aura of comfort. A framed picture of Frederick’s original inspiration, a Mississippi juke joint hangs on the wall above a cozy seating area upon entry. Other personal touches are found throughout the space, including her childhood truck, utensil holders made from old sewing boxes, and unique finds such as windows from Al Capone’s beach-side getaway she won at an auction.
Beautiful reclaimed wood from water towers and a tobacco barn is found in the table tops and bar, all handcrafted by the staff. Liquor lockers add to the interactive vibe, offering regulars, or soon-to-be regulars, an opportunity to purchase a bottle and store it until their next visit. Or perhaps they’d rather taste one of Mama’s Boy’s specialty drinks; a dirty okra martini, green tomato bloody mary or a flight of whiskey.
If you’re up for socializing, a community table equipped with a wagon-wheel base, welcomes anyone looking to make conversation with someone new. A chef’s table for four, provides an interactive view of the kitchen. For a more intimate space, guests can sit in the quieter back room, further from the action. It’s a well-thought out balance of modern flair mixed with industrial and farm chic with a consistent tone of Southern hospitality.
I started the evening off with what was hands down, the best virgin cocktail I’ve ever had. Thanks to Mama’s Boy’s accommodating bartender who created it for me on the spot. Refreshing homemade pineapple sorbet, muddied mint, blood orange and sparkling Perrier. Clean, bubbly and good to the last slurp…I mean, lady-like sip.
Once we sat down, silver buckets of Mama’s Boy’s creatively titled ‘redneck edamame’ were brought to each table. Georgia peanuts boiled in their house spice blend were addictive and fun to eat. I cracked open the shell to reveal a still-moist, chestnut-like consistency that was soft with a very slight crunch. We held that bucket hostage so we could keep digging in throughout the night.
A basket of just-baked corn muffins with creamy sweet butter were enhanced by a tangy spicy pepper jelly. They should sell this stuff, I thought to myself. Lucky for me, they do.
Our first appetizer was deviled eggs with house smoked tasso and pickled okra, a standout for me. The chunks of pork provided a unique texture to the typically creamy center, nestled in a perfectly cooked egg white boat. I found them so intriguing that I wasn’t ready to part with the plate, saving an extra serving to enjoy later in the meal.
From classic to unique, we transitioned to a plate of chicken skins with pickled beets. Coated in a crunchy cornbread batter and served with a sticky-sweet jalapeño dipping sauce. How cliché to say tastes like chicken, but it does. Because it is. Only it’s the very best part everyone wishes there was more of once you reach the meaty center. Here? They skip straight to the good stuff.
The Low-Country Bouillabaisse was by far my favorite thing on the menu. Grouper, white shrimp, mussels, house-smoked andoulle, baby corn and potato were immersed in a cast iron pot of delicate shrimp broth. Hints of fennel, butter and smoked paprika permeated into each perfectly cooked piece of tender shellfish. Everything I served onto that ladle was impressive– from the juicy mussels to the potatoes that glided along my tongue like velvet. If I was alone, I would’ve drank the rest of the broth my toasted bread hadn’t soaked up. “I’ve seen it happen,” Fredericks assured me.
Next up, a semi-deconstructed BLT salad was served in an artistically presented stack. Layers of good ole’ southern fried green tomato were sandwiched between artisan lettuce, topped with a peppery strip of chewy candied bacon, all tied together in a tangy, buttermilk-herb dressing bow. The lightness of the greens balanced out the breaded veggie (or are tomatoes a fruit?), while the smoky, spicy, sticky-sweet meat was complemented by the cool dressing.
Following the salad was a more traditional offering. Succulent white shrimp over Fall Mill’s melt-in-your mouth grits, with house-smoked tasso, zesty spring onion and a smooth pimento cream gravy. This down-home skillet offering was like buttah. Upscale homestyle food at its finest.
Fried chicken and waffles, known here as The Little Yardbird were a surefire hit. Marinated country fried game hen was served over a fluffy corn bread waffle with braised collard greens and a punchy habanero jelly. I happily drizzled Brookside Farm’s maple syrup over the top, enjoying the harmonious trio of sugary, savory and spice. Is it breakfast? Dessert? A treat for your senses? You’ll just have to come taste it for yourself.
Lastly, a sinfully indulgent crispy pork shank over a hearty Sea Island red pea maque choux, with herb infused braising liquid. Each rich, salty bite of fried cracklings makes you feel as though you’re living on the edge in a really good way.
As if the nine courses before us hadn’t been enough, out came three less-than-dainty slices of cake. Red velvet (crushed pineapple gets thrown into the batter to retain a natural sweetness!), slathered with the most irresistible, swipe-your-finger-across-it cream cheese frosting , a multi-dimensional carrot cake made with pecans and coconut, as well as a spice cake filled with a chocolate hazelnut ganache center, topped with a brown butter frosting. There was a hush over the crowd as we shamelessly dug into each feel-good forkful. What a way to end.
*Editor’s note: Although this is a sponsored post, all the opinions in this review are my own.
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