Before my trip to NC, Aimee mentioned Mama Dip’s to me, and I was sold. I wanted to eat everything on the menu… and I wanted to buy a picnic basket to take home… I planned on visiting, but a shift in scheduling and changes to party… well, I almost didn’t get to go, until I decided what the hell, I’m only down there every once in a while, so I ditched my friend and went alone.
When I first arrived to the fairly large restaurant, my awesome server asked if I’d like some hot cider. Umm, yes! this was unfortunately cloyingly sweet, and could have used a good shot of bourbon to temper the sweetness. But I drank it. It turned out to be $2.95 or something which was a bit much (taking into consideration the relative prices of other items on the menu).
Part of the reason my waitress was awesome: I wanted the sampler basket and some other apps, but that’s way too much stuff for me to eat comfortably (fried foods make me hit the wall quickly). I asked if I could substitute some items to achieve my desired mix, and she hesitated – it’s not allowed, she said first – but then she said she’d check and voila, I had what I wanted. Fried green tomatoes on the plate: excellent, crisp, with that specific sourness that green tomatoes give you, mellowed by frying and just that ever so lovely sweetness. Cornmeal crust gave it a nice exterior as well – and the ranch dressing for dipping was good, too.
Zucchini, broccoli and fried pickles in the basket – fried pickles were solid, but didn’t stand out too much. A little too much coating. I wasn’t particularly interested in the zucchini, but the broccoli surprised me… by being something I’ve been looking for since, um, forever.
Tangent: and so maybe 10 years ago, I went to this bed & breakfast along the Jersey Shore that sadly no longer exists… it was probably the best and most expensive b&b I’ve ever visited. In any case, one day, my travel companion and I took the b&b’s bicycles and rode into the next town to get a drink at this pub whose name I don’t remember. This was before I took pictures of everything I ate. Maybe it was before I even had a digital camera. While we were there, I saw something on the menu – I believe it was called broccoli & cheese fritters. My companion hates broccoli (and mostly anything green) so he was like whatever, but I ordered them, and these deep fried little globes filled with a melted cheese and broccoli mixture – think like the stuff they put on top of baked potatoes at Wendy’s when you pay an extra $2 – but better. They were so good! We wound up getting trashed, getting another order, eating that one, and then getting another order to go which we balanced precariously as we rode the creaky, rusted bicycles incredibly intoxicated back to the b&b as the sun set, then devoured them in our room. I’ve rarely, if ever, seen this treat on menus since then – but I don’t generally frequent the type of place I imagine would serve these.
So, dear friends who read through that, that these were. Close – not exactly the same, and these at Mama Dip’s were possibly better, as the external shell was thinner, crisper, and the innards more gooey, but I was definitely incredibly pleased to be munching away on a long-forgotten food craving.
Cornbread was solid. (I asked what I should get – biscuits or cornbread – and she didn’t hesitate.)
Greens – cook’s choice – turned out to be collards, which was perfectly fine by me. I love collards, and these were tender, mild, the perfect complement to the rest of my fairly rich meal.
I asked what other side I should get, and though she also immediately responded with mac&cheese, I knew I should not listen to her. Everyone likes mac&cheese differently from each other, and this was not the kind I like. I think I don’t like it in restaurants. I don’t know. It wasn’t quite offensive but it definitely wasn’t what I wanted…
Here is where I am a big silly. I was staring at my plate, in shock that I’d been given THREE pieces of fried chicken, for my combination plate – BBQ pork & fried chicken. After staring at my plate, I finally flagged the waitress to ask her if my pork had been forgotten. She smiled and pointed to it on my plate: the top left “piece” is a scoop of pulled pork. HAHAHA. I seriously thought it was a piece of chicken; good thing I didn’t try to pick it up with my fingers…
The pulled pork was succulent, soft, and very tasty. Unfortunately, having just had Allen & Son the day previous, this could not hold a candle.
But the star… oh my stars, the star of this plate was undoubtedly the fried chicken. I tearfully nommed on my thigh with such joy, my moans of delight may have scared the other diners – if there were any. I visited in that odd hour between lunch and dinner, almost as though I knew I’d be making a scene otherwise. Crisp exterior, moist interior, juicy, flavorful, and just excellent, excellent, excellent fried chicken. My mouth waters writing this, describing the pure joy I felt with each bite, each mouthful.
In the end, I left quite a bit of food to be eaten. But I am not one to waste… so I asked for a box and took everything I’d not finished to go. I filled up that box, and planned to have it as a snack when I returned home the next night. And that box went into my friend Aimee’s fridge, and then into my car, on the floor of the backseat, while I drove home from NC to NYC.
But alas, in the backseat rode my precious doggie, who was very angry that there was someone sitting shotgun that wasn’t her. And in a moment of anger and weakness, she tore into that box, unbeknownst to me, and…
I shiver, thinking about it…
BEFORE YOU ANIMAL LOVERS SHRIEK about the dangers of her consuming such foodstuffs, please be aware that she is fine (I write this nearly a month later). She’s eaten such items in the past, to my dismay, and appears to have an iron stomach (thankfully, sort of). She is absolutely fine and healthy and sleeping peacefully next to me at this writing.
So let’s just get back to MY reaction, upon discovering my snack – and my very favorite fried chicken EVER – gone.
I was near tears. I get very upset when people eat things that are mine (once upon a time, I lived in a household where someone took my leftovers from the night before and fed them to her dog; when I got home from work, looking forward to not having to cook dinner that night and to eating something delicious, and discovered it was gone I started screaming bloody hell), especially when I’m looking forward to eating them… but even more so when it’s something I can hardly go get another one.
I mourn the loss of that entire drumstick – she ate all of it, even the bone somehow, I never found a scrap of it in my car – along with the rest of my fried goodies. I mourn the loss of the best fried chicken ever, that I won’t be able to consume again for a while – not until my next visit to NC, which, given that I’m no longer among those who own cars, probably won’t be for a while.
I pour one out for my drumstick, eaten by dog.
If you’re still reading – well, all I can say is that you have to get yourself to Mama Dip’s somehow. It’s that good. It’s seriously delicious. The staff was all very friendly, helpful, and the food was just so delicious. Bring a few friends so you can split a bunch of stuff though… and definitely keep an eye on your leftovers. If you have any.