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A Taste of Louisiana at Mara’s Homemade

September 9, 2012

Have you heard of Mara’s Homemade?  Originally located in East Village in Manhattan, Mara’s relocated out to the suburbs last year and is alive and thriving.  Just under an hour on the LIRR from Penn station in Syosset, this isn’t necessarily the easiest restaurant to get to but it’s definitely worth a trip.  After hearing about Mara’s from MD for months, we finally rounded up 7 of us for a trip out to Syosset for a feast.

There’s no such thing as a small meal at Mara’s Homemade, a Louisiana style restaurant that specializes in Creole cooking and BBQ.  And why would you want to settle for a “lite” version when Mara’s offers a menu full of flavor, rich in butter and all sorts of goodness?

The menu at Mara’s features a collection of the familiar as well as the exotic.  Case and point, our appetizers.  We started with an order of fried pickles and gator bites.  The alligator bites are marinated in a cajun sauce and fried up with a crunchy cornmeal coating and served with a remoulade dipping sauce.  It was my first time having alligator but no fear from me at all.  These had a great chew and were surprisingly not oily at all.

A platter of Louisiana oysters on the half shell, simple and clean.

A quick look through Mara’s menu and you will notice that they sure do love crawfish here.  They make so many dishes with it, crawfish pot pie and crawfish etouffee just to name a few.  Two of the best dishes that feature those little creatures that I thought were tiny lobsters when I was younger are the crawfish stuffed bread and the crawfish cheesecake.  The crawfish stuffed bread came in a long French loaf along with a knife.  Cutting the crunchy bread into slices revealed a filling of cheese and crawfish tails that just oozed out.  Part of me wanted to know how to make this stuffed bread and the other part of me just wanted to keep stuffing my face with this delicious savory dish.

And the crawfish cheesecake did not play second fiddle to the stuffed bread.  This time, in addition to an abundance of crawfish tails and cheese, Andouille sausage was also added in to give a spicy kick.  The custard like mixture was baked to set in a cheese and bread crust until slightly jiggly.  The result was a rich and intensely flavored slice that was best shared.

 

For entrees, some of us went with the slightly healthier choices on the menu, such as grilled fish or shrimp over greens.  The blackened redfish was a great choice, blackened with a special blend of spices and served over a bed of buttery collard greens.  A squeeze of lemon juice added just that right touch of brightness.

 

And others chose to try the Arkansas BBQ platters that Mara’s offered.  A two meat platter came with your choice of two meat plus a slice of buttery corn bread and two sides.  The fried okra was magical, crunchy and addicting, definitely a must order next time as well!

 

And in my effort to convince MD that I can really handle heat and spice, I had to order the spicy corn on the cob.  The first bite was harmless enough, as was the next.  But slowly, the heat crept up, first lighting the inside of my mouth on fire and then burning my lips as well.  It was relentless and painful, but oh so delicious.  Not wanting to give up on corn, I had to shave off the kernels from the cob in order to manage the heat.

 

 

Miraculously, after all that food, we had just a little bit of room left for dessert.  The Bluegrass pie might have looked like a regular pecan pie but it had a hidden surprise.  A thicken layer of chocolate at the bottom was a lovely addition to an already delicious dessert.  The banana pudding cheesecake sounded like it had so much potential with a vanilla wafer crust and bananas folded into topped with a caramelized bananas.  But unfortunately, it paled in comparison with the bluegrass pie.

After a few slices of pie for the table and a few more glasses of the pineapple infused vodka made in house, we were ready to call it quits.  And for a complete experience, what better way to work off some of dinner with a few rounds of bowling at the bowling alley next door?  An hour and half and three games later, we were finally onboard the Manhattan bound train, blissfully full and content from an evening of food.

Mara’s Homemade | 234 West Jericho Turnpike, Syosset, Long Island, NY 11791 | http://www.marashomemade.com

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