It was with much anticipation that I had lunch with my friend Tracey at Mahogany's Cafe and Grill, a new restaurant in Hamilton. I was doubly excited by the prospect of this restaurant for it not only touted real southern style food (my oh my, heaven on a plate), but was opening in the second ward of Hamilton, an economically disadvantaged area of the city that would welcome a much needed new establishment with open arms.
I have found that anticipating a restaurant too much can lead to heightened expectations that can be hard to live up to. I think this is what happened when I first ate at certain BBQ joint that opened on Hamilton's west side a few years ago...the food wasn't bad, but nor was it the BBQ nirvana that I so badly wanted, and I left disappointed.
Well, I am very excited to report that Mahogany's lived up to those expectations and we will be returning here often. Even the 10 year old wanted to return to dine that very evening and bring his grandparents. Christopher and I both love fried catfish, and because of that whole not frying at home hangup of mine, have had to get out fix at The Texas Roadhouse, which has proved satisfactory, until now that is. Ben and I ate there last night and I could not even consider ordering it there again after having it at Mahogany's. If you are anywhere near Hamilton you must stop in for a visit; meanwhile you can visit them at their website, or on their Facebook page.
We ordered the fried green tomatoes to share. This was one dish that I came in knowing I was going to order (I do love fried green tomatoes, as does my 10 year old gourmand), and I was not disappointed. The crisp breading around the tart tomato was perfect, and the chipotle spiced sauce was an unexpected, but very delicious departure. Chris snatched one of these off the plate so quickly that I had to have him put it back so I could snap the picture :)
I ordered the fried catfish with buttery grits and fried okra. As I said earlier, I won't be ordering catfish at the Roadhouse any more, this was just sooo good. The grits were tender and decadently buttery (I didn't say this was DIET food), and the fried okra, which is often quite tasteless, was full of bright and tart okra flavor.
Chris ordered the fried catfish with fries and mac and cheese. All I can say is that the boy dug in and kept eating until he couldn't eat anymore. Both the fish and the mac and cheese was "really good" (the boy's words), but despite his heroic efforts, he could not eat it all. We both took food home (the portions were huge) where the boy later had a "catfish snack," eating not only his, but mine as well!
Tracey had the fried tilapia with mac and cheese and the basil corn. She said that her food was as delicious as we found ours to be, and that the corn, fried with butter and basil, was a delicious and different take on the common veg.
Accompanying our meals were huge sweet potato muffins. This was one of the best muffins I have ever eaten...Tracey and I were still talking about them days later. Liz Rogers, the owner of Mahogany's, told us that they are filling take out orders of these heavenly muffins by the dozen, and I can see why...I think we'll have to get some for breakfast sometime. I ended up taking half of mine home and Chris ate that too!!
Note: This was a wonderful place and I will definitely return here often, but discovered a disappointing little fact after leaving the restaurant. I received the bill and scribbled in a generous tip (the cute, friendly waiter did a great job) without really looking at the amounts (my bad). The next day Ben was looking at the receipt and found that a 15% gratuity had already been added in...can't say I expected that as we were not a large group. So all said, the cute, friendly waiter received a $10 tip on a $30 bill...not bad at all (for him). This won't keep me from returning, but I will certainly pay closer attention to my bill in the future.