If wanting what you can't have holds true, then the owners of Mayo's O'Taste & See know exactly what they're doing with its limited hours.
When open, this South Academy Boulevard eatery is packed, as if diners know they need to eat while the stove is hot. Mayo's only serves its homemade comfort fare between 11 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I asked an employee why just three days. He shrugged and said he wished it were more. He's not alone.
This is an order-at-the counter establishment with a casual dining area that's much more inviting than the nondescript exterior suggests. The menu features a few Thai dishes along with predominantly Southern classics such as gumbo (Fridays only), fried pork chop, barbecue pulled pork and fried shrimp. The sides really show Southern roots: fried okra, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes and collard greens - among others. The banana pudding, peach cobbler and sweet potato pie provide the exclamation point.
I asked which are the most popular items, and before I knew it the entire menu had been recited. Then another shrug because, he said, "it's all good." That rang true for all I tasted on my recent visit.
Everything is served in Styrofoam containers so everyone can take home leftovers. Trust me, there'll be some. Paper towel rolls on every table and the plastic ware are other indications that this is no special-occasion, candlelight dining venue. After the first bite, though, it's easy to forget about the disposable accessories.
The gumbo ($11.99) has shrimp, crab, scallops, chicken and turkey sausage in a not-too-spicy broth. Rice, corn and okra are served on the side. This makes it easy to add them to the soup/stew for more texture. I appreciated that the okra was on the side. This allowed me to determine how much I wanted to include and kept it from getting mushy, which often happens. The cornbread accompanying most entrees was neither too sweet nor too dry.
Several barbecue entrees are available, and I thought about the spare ribs ($10.99) but ultimately opted for the pulled pork ($9.99). The tangy pulled pork plate has two sides: baked beans and macaroni and cheese. The beans didn't have much wow factor, but the mac was creamy and well seasoned with black pepper.
Soul food and Asian cuisine is not a combination that jumps to mind. But the chef is Thai, and the décor reflects a Christian influence, with Bible verses posted around the dining room, as well as Asian art. It all works together.
The offerings under the "Oriental Cuisine" category include Thai fish curry, Thai shrimp curry, stir-fried steak, Thai pepper steak and beef bulgogi ($12.99). The latter is more typically associated with Korea.
The thin slices of beef were tender, with caramelized onions and scallions enhancing the sweet and savory sauce sprinkled with sesame seeds. The sizable portion is served over steamed rice.
Apparently, banana pudding ($2.99) sells out quickly, so we took advantage of its availability. This is one of those desserts that reminds me of large group potlucks. I'm not ordinarily drawn to it, but I'm glad I ordered it at Mayo's. It's rich with thick slices of banana and vanilla wafers. The latter provide a sweet crumblike element to the otherwise creamy blend.
Remember, Thursday, Friday and Saturday are the only days to get what you can't have the other four days of the week at Mayo's O'Taste & See.