My review of Mama's on the Half Shell
ATTENTION ALL SHELLFISH LOVERS! ATTENTION ALL SHELLFISH LOVERS! Your presence is required at Mama’s on the Half Shell, STAT! I repeat, your presence is required at Mama’s on the Half Shell, STAT!
The only displeasing element of our experience was our own fault. We were thoughtless enough to go during the Ravens vs. Colts playoff game. Once we got inside Mama’s, the wait wasn’t terrible considering the crowds outside of other places (about 20 minutes), and we each enjoyed a drink while we waited at the less-crowded end of the bar. The hostess kept track of our whereabouts and sought us out when our table was ready. Other than the half mile walk from our parking space and a rowdy crowd hollering f-bombs as the Ravens received a thorough pounding, this was an incredible experience.
We were given the menu and as you can see, it will take several visits to try everything that interested us. We happened to be seated next to a couple who also made the mistake of daring to hope for a romantic evening in the midst of a play-off fan frenzy. The loudness of the crowd and the marathon-like distance to our car was worth it. Did I mention it took an hour to even find parking? Knowing what I know now, I would have been willing to search another hour. The meal was that good.
Here is their menu and address: http://www.allmenus.com/md/baltimore/245528-mamas-on-the-half-shell/menu/
Our server was very personable and made the effort to time our entrees to come out one at a time so the table wouldn’t overcrowd our chess-board sized table. And now without further ado, our food:
Steamed Jumbo Shrimp – We discussed on whether we should order half or a full pound, and obviously, I lobbied for the full pound. My persuasive powers prevailed and they were brought out in a large, round plate with a small dish of lime-chipotle cocktail sauce and a dish of melted butter. Each one was a satisfying two bites, one for a dip in the butter and the other for the sauce. If you love shrimp half as much as I do, you would return just for this. For those of you with smaller appetites, the half pound would make a wonderful and affordable appetizer for two.
Steamed Pei Mussels – With the white wine garlic herb sauce, of course. The pile of shells was quite substantial and we sopped up the excess sauce with bread. Usually mussel sauces are more broth-like and this was more of a thicker gravy consistency. We visited Monks in Philadelphia last year and had the world’s most perfect mussels and have been on a quest to find something as good in Baltimore. Mama’s didn’t quite hit that standard, but they were still very good. We heard the beer broth was exceptional, so we’re going to try that next time.
Scallops – This does tip our dollar scale, but we were celebrating our 2nd anniversary so we splurged. They were perfectly pan seared and large in size (3 bites). I dipped my first bite into the butter, which was perfection on a fork. Ultimately, these sweet and tender cylinders of succulence needed no sauce or butter and we enjoyed the remaining ones dry.
Macaroni and Cheese, – Probably the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. There was a reason for the goodness, copious usage of butter. Even the breadcrumbs that topped it had a distinct butter flavor. Once the top layer was gone, we noticed the deep pool of melted butter with the remaining pieces of macaroni submerged in its murky depths. I took one last forkful, and a macaroni piece fell to the table, leaving quite a large greasy splat. I was no longer delightfully ignorant of the amount of fat, so out of respect for my heart and arteries, I did not finish it.
Seasonal Vegetables – Green beans with an almond garnish. I’m a huge almond fan and enjoy most things with an almond twist. We both agreed they were slightly underdone, which was fine with me. I would rather have my veggies on the firm and crunchy side than overdone and wilted. My fiancée disagreed.
The John Daily Crush (drink) – Since I was the primary driver, this potent drink was enjoyed by my lovely fiancée but I did ask for a sip for posterity’s sake. It tasted like a deadly Arnold Palmer: sweet tea, lemon aid, infused with a substantial dose of vodka. She’s driving next time.
I have not left a restaurant this stuffed in a very long time. I personally made sure that no delectable shrimp and succulent scallop went to waste. With what felt like a bowling ball in my stomach, we left for the long walk to the car. I was both grateful and grumpy for the walk. It was good to walk off some of the over-stuffed-uncomfortable feeling, yet I wished the world’s most comfortable couch would materialize so I could lapse into a food coma. Will we return? Yes, the sooner the better.