Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Mama Lou’s juicy fried chicken comes in two sizes — XL and XXL. (Photo by Vishal Malhotra)
Mama Lou’s Country Kitchen
Fried chicken
Meat loaf
Big & Rich

Not the Nashville country act but a country kitchen that exemplifies those words deliciously.


Mama Lou’s Country Kitchen
5700 Bonnell Av, FW. 817-737-8150. Tue-Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 11am-4pm. Closed Mon. Visa and MasterCard only.

Country cooking is what your grandma or her grandma used to do when your family still had the farm. The boys would go out early and work the crops or cattle and come back at midday, ravenous. Ma would have heaps of meat, potatoes, beans, and fresh garden vegetables piled on the table. Everyone would dig in, and — in no time — the piles were reduced to scraps for the pigs. The food was enormously filling, with attention spent on flavor rather than presentation.
Mama Lou’s Country Kitchen does the same thing — and to enjoy it, you don’t even have to work in the sun all day. Having opened earlier this year, the tiny restaurant in Como has only three tables and, including a corner bar, seats just 21. The bright white interior (with violet trim) is spotless. A single wall-mounted tv — tuned to either sports or news — is the only distraction. Despite its size and plainness, Mama Lou’s is warm: Diners regularly poke their heads into the kitchen to say hello to either owner Mama Lou (a.k.a. Louise King) or the other chefs, and everyone seems to know everyone else.
The menu is as simple as the space: Meat loaf and fried chicken appear daily. On Monday, the other choice is pig’s feet. On Tuesday, beef tips and noodles. On Sunday, turkey wings and baked chicken. All plates are $6.99, and desserts are $2.
The options on a recent visit were meat loaf, fried chicken, or fried pork chops. An order of each was placed, of course.
In no time, three enormous plates arrived. The thick brown slab that was the meat loaf — ground chuck only, no pork or veal — was well-seasoned and rich with celery, garlic, and onion. Though not served with gravy, the beef was so deliciously moist that gravy would have been superfluous. The two fried pork chops were equally hearty — and potentially deadly in their decadence. (The good news is that if you happen to have your heart attack while chowing down on these bad boys, at least you can take comfort in the fact that you were eating pretty much the same fried pork chops served in heaven — they’re that good.) The fried chicken — a huge half-breast with wing — was crisp, and the absolutely melt-in-your-mouth meat was covered in a tasty yet light batter that would have made the Colonel blush.
The sides were also simple but delicious. At the top of the list were the homemade candied yams in brown sugar and the cabbage boiled with enough meat juices to move it from the “vegetable” category of the food pyramid into “meat.” The boiled and buttered skinless potatoes were mouth-watering; the buttered corn with just a touch of chicken grease and black pepper was excellent in a sweet-sour way; the collard greens were so sharp they nearly talked back to you; and the enormous serving of cornbread dressing — made from scratch and loaded with chicken stock, garlic, celery, and onions — was a meal in itself. For dessert, the sweet potato pie — loaded with sugar, then cut with lemon — was as good as you’ll find.
Get the picture? These are not meals for the diet-crazy crowd. Though nothing was greasy, everything was rich. And unless you had actually worked all day beneath the sweltering Texas sun, you would have a hard time finishing a single plate by your lonesome. Talk about “soul” food.

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