That’s right. The Big Mamou. After more than 2 years of seeing the “Future Home of” hanging on the side of this former daycare, the newest Cajun spot in the loop is open and doing business. We packed up the kid and met some friends for dinner. This was our overall impression:
I anticipated a full service restaurant going in to that spot, so it was a bit of a surprise to find counter service. However, counter service does very well in The Heights (Berryhill and DaCapo’s, for example) and is definitely a family and group friendly way to eat. Like Berryhill, you order at the counter, but a server brings your food to you. The servers were all extremely helpful and willing to refill your drinks or bring you more of whatever you needed. Hopefully, this exceptional level of attention will last and isn’t just an enthusiastic push while they are a baby business.
I have to say, the patio is something of a disappointment. This is Houston, and we Houstonians LOVE to eat outside. Even on the hottest summer days patios are full come dusk. The patio at Big Mamou only has 6 tables and only 2 of these are actually dining tables. The others are cocktail tables. Sure, you can eat at a cocktail table, and people were, but it’s not fun and not convenient for the very short (kids) or very tall (my husband). This is easily remedied and I hope the owners, who have already built a reputation as “listeners” by answering calls for Abita Beer, see how many people would like to enjoy a PoBoy while watching the cars zoom down Studewood.
The inside is cute, casual and inviting. I’m impressed with how much of the bungalow feel they were able to maintain. Beautifully finished hard wood floors make it warm but without making you feel like there’s trouble if you drop your remoulade. The open kitchen keeps your eyes on the action and, I believe, fosters a sense of trust- you always know what you’re getting because it’s right there. In addition to the main room, there is a little side room which I can easily see used for a small group.
The main dining area with small tables that can be reconfigured for your party size; the side room which could accommodate 10-15 diners (but is also the way to the restrooms).
I say the food is solid. Solidly good, but not exceptional- which is what I expect for such a casual atmosphere anyway. They are still operating on a limited/soft opening menu and, therefore, I can only assume there will be several tweaks before they finalize anything.
Here is what we had and what we thought:
Shrimp PoBoy- Very tasty. Shrimp was good sized and there was definitely enough to make a sandwich, plus dip a couple on their own. They use Gulf Coast shrimp, which we can all appreciate. The breading was good, and the tomatoes were ripe. I will say it was a little dry for me- just not enough sauce. I like my PoBoys soggy with yummy sauce. I know this is a personal preference and it was easily remedied. I asked for some remoulade and some of their house Mamou Sauce (which is what PoBoys come with). The Mamou sauce didn’t have as much flavor as I like, but the remoulade was excellent! My husband says the bread was "perfect." It’s not good PoBoy bread unless it makes a mess when you eat it. It should be perfect since it's shipped daily from Gambino's Bakery in Kenner, LA. The hubby also loved the shrimp breading and didn’t feel the need to douse his with more sauce…
Shrimp PoBoy, avilable in full size or 1/2 size with soup combo
Yummy, good sized chunks of sausage in their mild but flavorful gumbo.
Dinner salad- Eh. I know this isn’t a salad restaurant, but the Hubby and I like to have a little green with dinner. We got a large to share with our main meals. It was romaine rather than iceberg, which was nice, but all it had on top was sliced carrots and celery with a sprinkle of parmesan. The dressing is pre-packaged, which is a disappointment. If they could add some tomatoes and sliced onion, perhaps cucumber, it would be an excellent dinner salad and more worth the money.
The green salad left us saying "Eh."
Fried Green Tomato Salad- Again, it's much a matter of personal preference, but this salad was a huge disappointment to my friend Shannon. The tomatoes were on the soggy side and she thought the dressing was too sweet. There were 3 good sized tomato slices on top, which was nice. I tried the dressing and had to agree it was a tad on the sweet side. Since the salad came already dressed, it’s hard to know if this dressing was something house made or a packet dressing like the dinner salad. She said she wouldn't order it again, but it wasn't bad. Just a little off.
Fried green tomato salad
Fries- The PoBoys came with great fries! Seasoned and (probably) double fried, they were crisp and flavorful and didn’t need ketchup. Just right. The toddlers were very happy with them as well.
Your proprietors, Rufus and Brenda. Any given day, you can find them hard at work in their restaurant wearing every hat necessary- from slinging hash to brandishing brooms. Be sure to say "Hello" as they are about the friendliest people you'll find!