Mara's Homemade (1 Year Anniversary), Apr. 6, 2005

Mara's Homemade
342 E. Sixth St.

Last night was the 1 year anniversary of Mara's Homemade and reservations were on a first come first serve situation - no walk-ins tonight.

My friend Jeff was there last week and made reservations for 6, 2 of whom ended up unable to join us. The group, all Music industry PR pros and/or music writers (except for me) would eventually bring up the New Orleans Heritage and Jazz Festival (aka Jazzfest) and how all of us (myself included) have enjoyed various incarnations of the Spring festival and how we all wished we were going this year.

In the meantime, Jeff and I sat/stood at the miniscule bar-cum-checkout counter waiting for the other two, drinking a head-free (slightly flat) but tasty nonetheless, Abita Amber Ale, as the owners wouldn't let us sit until our whole party was there.

Our 2-some soon became a 4 some and we were seated at one of the tables in the main room, which tonight featured a Cajun band playing, um, cajun music that had quite the bluegrass twang to it as well. The music was great, and if you've eaten in the pubs in Ireland, this is pretty similar: tight quarters, real music and continous refills of beer. The only problem with Mara's in respect to the music - it should be everynight. I can't help but think the place would be very boring without it.

To the food:

We ordered the fisherman's special and a half dozen oysters for the table. The fisherman's special was a plate of fried items including catfish, hush puppies, shrimp, oysters and garlic mashed potatoes. All of this was just okay, the catfish and oysters (both fried and on the half shell) being the best part of it.

For entrees:

Carla: Crab special which included Blue Claws boiled with potatoes, corn on the cob, hush puppies. They all looked pretty good...minus the potatoes which looked eh.

Jeff: Catfish New Orleans (sauteed in creole seasoning smothered with crawfish etouffee and served with pilaf and green beans). Wow. This smelled delicious...and tasted good as well. Fish was cooked well and the seasonings were spot on creole style.

Dave and Me: We both ordered the Andouille Crusted Tilapia (like the catfish, this too was farm raised). It had a crust made with andouille sausage, then baked and covered with a creole mustard sauce and came with asparagus. I also ordered a side of fried pickles. Just had to try them. They were pretty good. Tasty pickles.

The tilapia was perfectly cooked and the sausage/fish/mustard combo was amazing. This was a very good dish and was surprised at how good and fresh the asparagus was. Just the right crunch/tenderness.

I think the tilapia was the best of the dishes, but the catfish might be worth trying again.
The prices might be a little steep, I confess ($22 for the catfish and $22 for the tilapia) but all in all not a bad price considering the entertainment (music) freshness of ingredients, the fact that much of their food is shipped daily from Louisiana, etc. but it does seem as though these folks are up here knowing they can get these prices. If this were in New Orleans, we'd be paying half the price and you could go anywhere to get the same dishes. But we are in New York, and this style is hard to come by.


Our waitress was good at what she did - knew the food well and was there only when we needed her. The proprieters are definitely an interesting pair. A bit gruff but hospitable.
Here's a pic of them:


I've spent little to no time on 6th Street (simply because I live in Curry Hill as it is) but it was a pleasure to walk by all of the Indian/Ethiopian restaurants and to see Angon. Looks really nice. I will have to check it out. Awash was an Ethiopian place that looked interesting as well. The neighborhood, I must confess, is far more pleasing to the eye than my neighborhood, but I think that's an Avenue v.s. Street situation.

Mara's Homemade is clearly the reincarnation of a previous Indian restaurant. The passage between the two dining rooms had the unmistakable lotus leaf cutout at the top.

Would I go back. Actually yes. I think once a year would be a good bet. Once in awhile you crave a seafood/crawfish boil and this could very well be the place for it. I just wish the prices were a little bit less and that they had live music everynight.


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