The American table finds comfort in New England, variety in New York and ignition in New Orleans. So, jump-start your appetite at Mara's Homemade.
Mara's moved to the Muttontown Plaza shopping center from East Sixth Street in Manhattan. The transition has gone well, informalities and kitschy appointments in tow, turning a barely noticeable storefront into a destination for a crawfish boil, a po'boy and lots more. Get ready to get messy.
During recent visits, the eatery was waiting for its liquor license. So, sip some lemonade or bring your own spirits. Maybe Abita Amber. Pull up a chair at one of the tight tables and scan the specials. This year, the Fourth of July comes early.
Hush puppies, here fried cornbread spiked with jalapeño peppers, beat any rolls. Have some very good fried pickles and fried green tomatoes, too. Then, consider beginning the festivities with outstanding, smoky-sweet, char-grilled oysters. Nibble on crawfish cheesecake, a lush wedge spiked with andouille sausage and crawfish tails, baked with cheese, under a bread-crumb crust -- gutsy quiche. Smoked ribs deliver tenderness; pulled pork and chopped brisket benefit from the terrific house-made hot sauce; jambalaya, a tasty jolt on its own. If they're available, move on to savory, labor-intensive, hard-shell blue crabs. The house's crawfish boil is three pounds of the beloved pick-and-suck mudbugs, delivered in an Abita bucket, a second on the side for the shells. This is one potent, fired-up production, suitable for two or three. The seared speckled trout, sauced with shrimp and more, is recommended. And order a po'boy, oyster or shrimp, catfish or crawfish. Mara's pies, from chocolate cream to strawberry-almond, are delicious.
Satisfactory crabcakes; not-so crab-stuffed mushrooms and sauteed crab fingers. Gator bites: anonymous, could be anything. Carbonized blackened redfish. Ultra-mild lobster roll. Crisp but bland fried chicken. Dry chocolate souffle.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Little Easy.