Chow: Like mom used to make
New restaurant’s unique menu is a throwback to (way) earlier times
by Hank Bouillabaisse
There is one kind of food, and one kind of food only, that Hank will stop and sit down for: comfort food. So, when word came my way about Chico’s newest restaurant, Mam’s Bistro, supposedly serving “the ultimate in comfort food,” I jumped in my truck and went to investigate.
Walking through Mam’s front door, I was a little worried. It looked like someone’s home.
“Where am I?” I asked aloud, turning to marvel at a softly lit dining room that enveloped me in a womb of glowing warmth.
“Good evening, sir. One for lunch?”
The place was empty, except for owner/chef Lila “Mam” Poogy, who sat me at one of the highchairs at the counter and handed me a menu.
I was not happy to see that there wasn’t anything like chicken-fried steak, or any other of my comfort-food faves on the menu, but there definitely was milk … a lot of milk: milk shakes, milk toast, Mam’s milky gravy over milk-fed beef.
I looked up to ask a question, but Mam was nowhere to be found. I was starting to get really upset—I couldn’t see her anywhere.
“Here I am,” Mam said enthusiastically as she reappeared in the dining room carrying a tray filled with soft-looking balls of white cheese.
“Free samples. Try one.”
“I was looking at the menu,” I said, “and it looks like everything here is made with this ‘Mam’s milk.’ I’ve never heard of that dairy. Is it local?”
“Oh yes, very local,” she said. “It’s mother’s milk.”
“What, you mean the cow’s mom’s milk?” I asked.
“No, silly. This mom’s milk.” She pulled her apron aside and pointed to a clear plastic bottle strapped to her body slowly filling with white milk in time with a clicking motor. “Everything’s made with Mam’s milk. It’s the latest in haute cuisine.”
“That’s cannibalism!” I yelled, jumping up from the counter.
“But I’m a vegetarian,” Mam said. “I eat only organic. I’m much more clean and healthy than any cow.”
She held out the tray one more time, and said, “Just try one piece.”
Feeling a little bad about yelling at the young lady, I sucked in my gut, reached out my hand and quickly threw one of the white chunks in my mouth. I started to turn to run the hell out of there when the flavor overtook my mouth. It was more chewy than I cared for, and it tasted a little like a pickle, but I did feel oddly comforted by its sweet creaminess.
“If you like the cheese, you must try my special milk steak!”
I did like the cheese, so I decided to stay and try the special milk steak. Delicious. Like nothing I’d ever tasted before. The restaurant is a little pricey ($9.99 for the milk steak and a side of mashed carrots) but worth every penny.
I finished every bite on my plate and, after a little nap, Mam patted my back as I walked blinking into the afternoon sun feeling reborn.