Cleaned My Plate header image 1

Mara’s Homemade

January 28th, 2009 · 1 Comment


Mara’s Homemade, a family-run Creole restaurant in the East Village, radiates Southern hospitality; it’s congenial and relaxed. Mara is the owner, head chef, and chief marketer. She weaves her way through the small dining rooms, chatting with patrons, urging them to drink more, to order an extra dessert, and to join her mailing list.

I’ll listen to any sales pitch for a slice of her sumptuous Crawfish Cheesecake; a savory concoction with a breadcrumb crust and a filling of crawfish tails, andouille sausage, and cheese.

In addition to Cajun cuisine, the menu also contains a full page of Arkansas BBQ. The geography is odd, but so it Mara’s. She discovered her love for New Orleans cuisine via weekend trips from Dallas. At some point she lived in LA. If she has ever set foot in Arkansas I didn’t hear about it; I was happily eating my Crawfish Cheesecake.

Our minds were swimming with various Catfish and Crawfish dishes from the overwhelming menu when our chatty server (Mara’s daughter, of course) started telling us about the specials. It was as though she was throwing us a line, saving us from drowning in difficult decisions.

The Shrimp Special, described by Mara’s daughter as fantastic, was also described as an ideal sharing platter. We got reeled in. The shrimp were mealy, difficult to peel, and dressed in sauces not worth detailing.

Gator bites (popcorn shrimp for the self-proclaimed adventurist), were eagerly consumed. But, what isn’t compelling about cornmeal breaded, fried, nuggets dunked in Remoulade sauce? The fried okra, similarly battered and crisped, confirmed the hypothesis: these dishes had little to do with Mara and much to do about the fryer.

Coaster-sized Louisiana oysters on the half-shell were plump, but mild. The Oysters Rockefeller, spiked with Anisette liquor, had an odd sweetness.

A special Artichoke and Oyster Soup piqued our curiosity and satisfied our taste buds. Mara gets credit for the ingenuity.

While the Creole Catfish was generously dusted with Cajun seasoning, the preparation felt sloppy and lackluster.

The Berry Cobbler, Key Lime pie, and Bread Pudding all slightly misshapen, were the epitome of homemade. Every last bite of their deliciousness was devoured.

The four of us left full and jolly. It was only later that I realized the meal was more fun than the food was good. But, there’s no doubt my stomach will urge my return for some of Mara’s Cajun treats. As for my heart, it might just urge me back for a little bit of Mara herself.

Mara’s Homemade
342 East 6th Street
New York, NY 10003

Neighborhood: East Village

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 John Murphy // Mar 8, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    The writer must have visited Mara’s on an off
    night. We (my wife and I) have each had the shrimp special on separate ocassions and it was fantastic! Plump shrimp, distinct & spicy sauces
    and served pipping hot. As for the PEELING, of
    course it’s messy but that’s part of the fun experience at Mara’s. Yes it’s fun but the food is great and ejoyably delicious for those who don’t
    mind getting their fingers involved in the Southern gustatory experience. Try it! 4plus!