I don't like Mother's. There. I said it.
I want to like it. And so I've gone there many times. There are many reasons to go. For example, it's a staple of my neighborhood since 1980. And I want to support a vegetarian menu even though I am not one. But I really don't think I'll go back.
The first time I ever went, several years ago, I was excited. It seemed cool. Funky. Hyde Park. It went sort of downhill from there.
The luke warm greeting was about as sincere as the one you'll hear at a record store. Then I got the menu. "Ok. I guess I can work with this..." I thought. I tried some peasant's meal combo of beans and rice and something or other. I mean, yeah, you can expect an offering like that to be somewhat bland, but this was no different than something I would quickly heat up in my own kitchen at home alone in a pinch. Not something anyone should pay asking price for.
I didn't go back for a while after that. But then someone I met was raving about their nachos. They would drive in from the burbs just to have them. Ok. Let's try the nachos. Not only was I less than impressed- again, something similar to my own microwave cuisine- they served them to me kind of drowning in milk. I assume that was going to be sour cream when it was designed, but I got milk. Now I love milk, but on cereal. Not Tex-Mex.
I'll skip past a few other visits to close with my last and final experience.
My son Jack and I were running around the hood looking at some houses for sale with an out of towner client/friend. We got hungry so I naturally thought of Julio's. Doh. No cash on me. (This happens a lot, and I hate ATM fees.) I pop my head into Hyde Park Bar and Grill. I have a hard time waiting for tables. So... Mother's was, well, there.
We get the customary hipster welcome, etc. We sit. We wait. We eventually get some attention and ask for coffee and waters. I felt like my please was required more than courteous. As if my server felt like she was going to be doing me a favor today versus doing her job that the restaurant and I pay her for. We tango danced our way through that whole process for a while until all 5 drinks finally hit the table.
Now comes the fun. My guest ordered. She didn't really get the help or recommendation of any sort that she was looking for, but she made it through. Then came my turn. I have the pleasure of ordering twice since Jack is with me.
For him, we're thinking pancake. Or pancakes, depending on the size. So I ask. "How big is one pancake?" She looks at me, surprised. "Regular pancake size." She literally said that. And with a tone. This was a new chapter in the hipster handbook I had not seen before.
"Really? Regular size?" I clarified. "Well, Kerby Lane's are like this," I mimed a dinner plate. "IHOP's are like this." I pulled my hands closer together. "Which one is regular?"
"IHOP?" She asked. Apparently never heard of it. She probably doesn't have a TV and would never eat where they serve bacon. Fair enough. I get it. We press on.
The next thing she says still has me bewildered to this day, and I often replay this moment in my head when thinking about the difference between how Givers and Takers view the world. "They're like the ones I make at home." She really said that. I promise.
So, skipping past the obvious point that I had never been to her house at breakfast time or any other time in my life, I say, "I'm just trying to gauge the amount of food I need to order for him. Do you think one pancake would be enough?" I motion to Jack. This really was never intended to be an argument of any sort. Just a really simple clarification.
"Yeah. One should be enough." She replies.
I'm not trying to sound like I have a chip on my shoulder or expect to be treated as per the B.S. line, "The customer is always right." I just expect to have a pleasant experience overall wherever I go. Why else would I go there or, moreover, return there? I think we're all the same in that way.
So, in 3 main areas of classification- Food, Service, Atmosphere. Mother's gets an average of 2 stars. Don't you wish you had just skipped down to this last part?