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Mamie's, Roxbury

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Stopped in for lunch today @ Mamie's in Roxbury. I love the location and building and decor. The place is so New England. The menu always sounds wonderful. I even love the name. I so want to love it.

But as has been the case in the past, it wasn't all I hoped for.

Service was fine.

Lobster roll special and gazpacho soup of the day were tempting.

But I was more intrigued by the Bacon, Lettuce, and Fried Green Tomato sandwich on whole-grain toast. I ordered it with salad, not fries (a modicum of restraint + fried veg in the sandwich, though it did occur to me I was maybe doing salad two ways as opposed to two things fried).

I am a BLT fan; and the concept of using fried green as opposed to fresh red tomatoes caught my fancy. The sandwich was clearly freshly made--the fried green tomatoes, hot off the grill--too hot to eat at first. And the sandwich was a tower, beautiful to behold, with stacks upon stacks of the tomatoes, some lettuce, and shards of bacon. And the individual parts were great--amazing bacon, perfectly fried (from a local farm?), perfectly fried tomatoes that were a beautiful shade of pale green,wonderfully fresh leaves of lettuce, good mayo, great bread (I didn't ask its provenance--I know they bake delicious old-fashioned sweets--don't know if they bake their own bread).

But my tower fell.

It was too tall to bite into--and the layers weren't melded, so they started to fall out, before I tried to bite it, when I tried to pick it up. It was also too tall to cut easily (and large pieces of crisp bacon don't cut).

And in terms of taste--compared to ripe, raw tomatoes, the sweetness of the green tomatoes were not strong enough, fried green tomatoes not juicy enough--and the fried coating of the tomatoes felt like gilding the lily of the fried bacon (by the end, I felt just a touch of the queasiness you can get when you eat a lot of fried stuff). And it was a little bland and dry. I added salt, which didn't do much. It didn't come together.

A serviceable diner-type BLT can definitely be improved upon. It becomes positively brilliant when you go out of your way to include terrific ingredients: heirloom tomatoes, just-picked lettuce, bacon from happy pigs, bread from a great bakery, home-made mayo.

But in terms of the concept, maybe the message is: don't mess with perfection--a classic is a classic for a reason.

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  1. Mamie's is a cute little roadside place with rustic d├ęcor and mismatched chairs along a very pretty road in Roxbury. It was started as a bakery, and although the sandwiches come on thick slabs of multigrain bread, I don't believe it is made in-house. Ingredients are fresh, the menu can be creative, but the outcomes can be disappointing. Service is variable. On one occasion we were greeted immediately, on another ignored and left to wait glumly while the gentleman chatted with his friends at another table. Nonetheless Mamie's attracts Roxbury's toniest residents (after all, where else to dine in Roxbury), along with some of their trendy pals as well.