Friday, September 16, 2011
Big Mama's Rib Shack
This is not a complaint. I'd much rather remember the time I burned my mouth at Din Tai Fung, not the dish on which I burned it. I'd been warned by my friends that it was going to be boiling hot but I was too hungry to heed their advice. I'd much rather remember watching Kobe's ridiculous dunk over Yao and the way all my friends exploded out of their seats at Crown City Brewery, not the appetizers we had on the table in front of us.
I once had a very enjoyable meal at Big Mama's Rib Shack up on Lake Avenue, a Sunday afternoon lunch with almost a dozen friends. I remember the poor beer choices; I remember that we all went to the Rancho afterwards for a couple of games of pool; I remember going to Old Town with everyone that evening. But I don't remember what I ordered or how it tasted. For years, I thought of Mama's only as a place where I once had a great meal, even though I didn't actually remember anything about it.
The other day I was helping my mom with something up on Lake Ave not far from Big Mama's and I got really hungry. It was still on the early side but I'd been working for hours and needed food. She said we could go anywhere I wanted. I suggested Big Mama's.
If you've been to the South, you will understand what I mean when I say it was very Southern. We got there at 11:40; the sign says they open at 11:30. The doors were locked. We waited for a couple of minutes, and just when we were about ten seconds away from going next door to Pinocchio's, a friendly woman came and unlocked the door.
"Sit wherever you like," she said. "Give me a minute and I'll turn on the lights."
We sat at a table in the dark. When the lights came on we noticed how dirty the table was and we chose another. The woman - perhaps one of the owners - cleaned off all the tables and took our order. (A waitress stumbled in around 11:50, although I could not tell - either from her demeanor or that of the other people - whether she was ten minutes early or twenty minutes late.)
While we waited for our food, a man who appeared to be one of the owners and another woman sat ten feet away from us and talked loudly about the restaurant's finances. I won't go into details, but let's just say I would have preferred not to hear the discussion, particularly while waiting for our food. (If this were an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, this would be the point where Gordon Ramsay comes storming out from the kitchen yelling "What are you doing? You don't talk like this in front of customers, you donkey!)
I want to like Big Mama's. They were friendly, their beer selection is much better than it used to be (although I only drank water with this meal), and it wasn't too expensive. But it seems like a restaurant that is just going through the motions: not opening on time, not cleaning the tables (nor turning on the lights) until customers are already seated, and airing their problems in full view of customers - the only two customers they had. And the food was only average at best.
I probably should have just left Big Mama's as a memory. Even if it was a memory where I didn't remember the food.
Posted by JustinM at 12:21 PM
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oh lord I love the name Big Mama's. Back in my 20s I used to work in retail banking and there was a lady who'd come in (always wearing a mumu) who was referred to as "Big Mama" ... even the mumu did NOT hide here bodacious curves. Too bad this place didn't wow you. Looks kinds of sad from the photos and the disillusioned menu.
By any chance do you have Big Mama's phone number?
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