Memorable | One of the Best
Mama’s Oyster House
Review by: Roadfood Team
Seafood galore! Oysters, crab cakes, shrimp, catfish, and alligator vie for attention at Mama’s Oyster House.
When you enter Mama’s, if you look to your left you’ll see a sink where someone will most likely be shucking oysters to order–and such oysters they are: ice-cold, fresh, succulent, and briny. If you insist, you can have them cooked, and you can even request the degree of crispness.
What to eat at Mama’s Oyster House
Mama’s has specializes in seafood, although a 14-oz blackened ribeye is on the menu, and will be cooked exactly as you like it. There are several fettuccine dishes as well, though one staffer describes them as having been added for the less adventurous of palate. Meals come with a fairly ordinary tossed salad, bread, and some form of potato, of which the spicy Cajun Mashed seem to be the most popular. Foods are almost entirely prepared on-site, and the steaks are hand-cut.
Oysters, crab cakes, shrimp, catfish, and even alligator vie for your attention. All are good, though a favorite is the catfish filet. It is cooked to a crisp on the outside, leaving the flesh itself hot, steamy, and moist. The breading is corn meal based and pretty highly seasoned, as are the hushpuppies. Now, if you’re really hungry, go for the seafood platter. It includes Fried catfish, shrimp, frog legs, oysters, stuffed crab, and crawfish tails–as well as a house salad, French fries, hush puppies, and a cup of seafood gumbo.
The appetizers alone are worth a trip, and groups of people often order only appetizers to share for a meal. Again, catfish; and blackened alligator, oysters and shrimp in all permutations (try the Louisiana-style barbecued shrimp!), stuffed mushrooms, and “Cajun toothpicks”: slim strips of onion and jalapeño, battered and fried, and served with a cooling dip. A must is the artichoke-cheese dip. It’s served hot, with fried and breaded “bowtie” pasta to dip with.
Service is usually excellent, although the occasional new server (this is, after all, a college town) may bobble a bit. The owners, Clay and Jana Mayeaux, take a personal interest in their employees, hiring a high proportion of students and working with them on scheduling so they can stay in school. The servers get to know the regular customers and what they drink, so they are often greeted with the name of the drink and a question mark when they enter.
The ambiance at Mama’s Oyster House
The décor is a treat, making you feel that someone has set up a restaurant in a cross between a hunting lodge, a fishing camp, and a photo gallery. Clay’s trophies adorn the walls, the lighting isn’t “fashionably discreet,” it’s just kind of dim, and the furniture is simply wooden tables and chairs or bar stools. When tables are in high demand, or if someone is eating solo, meals are often served at the bar.
Be warned: Natchitoches is a college town that lives from festival to festival, and Mama’s is downtown where they all take place. It can be incredibly noisy and crowded (there is live music on some Friday nights), but it’s always good-natured. Mayeaux has done a little of everything in his life, from construction to carpentry, and simply happened into the restaurant business a few years ago. He has even dabbled briefly in local politics, but soon realized that Louisiana politics is much more entertaining from the outside than the inside, and (in his words) “went back to earning an honest living.”
Original Post by Rick Flynn
Directions & Hours
|Meals Served||Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|