Yes, I know, I've blogged about Sweet Mother's Kitchen before. And, admittedly, I should have at least chosen sometime other than brunch for this visit. But last weekend, as E and I were on the prowl for a suitable breakfast, I noticed a waiter bringing a bloody mary to a group sitting outside.
"I want that!" I said out loud without thinking, and all thoughts of a tame breakfast (coffee and eggs benedict) flew out of my head.
The Bloody Mary ($12) was fantastic. The tomato juice base was full-bodied and not watered down, and the hot sauce gave a gratifyingly spicy (but not searing hot) kick. And, while alcohol first thing in the morning isn't usually my thing, the perceptible yet not overpowering tinge of vodka melded perfectly with these other flavours that, really, shouldn't taste so good together - in a drink, at least. Sweet Mother's garnishes their Bloody Marys with a couple of pickled green beans and some cucumber instead of the more usual celery stalk. It was a cooling and welcome change.
(Do note that SMK's bloody mary goes by a somewhat cutesier name on the menu, which I forgot to write down... and they also do a tequila-based take on the bloody mary which I'm told is delicious.)
E kept his morning a bit less, uh, alcoholic, with a flat white ($3.80).
Sweet Mother's uses Supreme beans, which are generally pretty good. I was too preoccupied with my Bloody Mary to taste E's coffee, but he seemed pleased with it.
Now, being a loosely New Orleans/Southern food-centred restaurant, it's no surprise that Sweet Mother's serves beignets ($4 for 2).
These are puffy, crispy, deep-fried hunks of dough, coated in powdered sugar - so basically a doughnut, but fluffier, and not overpoweringly sweet on the inside.
I must admit I've never been to New Orleans, but I have had beignets at New Orleans-style restaurants in the States and these were pretty close. The ones I had on this particular visit were a tad dark, however - a few seconds longer and they'd have been overfried, but the flavour wasn't affected at all. Heavenly.
Beignets and creamed spinach ($5) may seem like kind of a strange combination, but I've had them together once or twice now. One of my favourite things about Sweet Mother's is that you can make up your own meal of a selection of side dishes, all priced at a reasonable $5. The creamed spinach was a winner, especially with a bit of hot sauce sprinkled on top - the greens were wilted to a gooey, floppy mess and soaked up the rich, creamy sauce beautifully. They did seem to be a bit undersalted (I'm starting to wonder if I've got too high a salt tolerance?!), but that was easily fixed. Don't be fooled by the presence of veggies... this definitely isn't good for you! But it's pure comfort food, and my stomach and tastebuds were left smiling.
E had his usual "all in one" breakfast poboy ($9.00). Bacon, eggs, Cajun smoked sausage, tomato and hollandaise sauce are wedged between sliced baguette halves. It's a cheap, filling and delicious option.
And of course, no visit to Sweet Mother's is ever complete without an order of curly fries with Creole mayo ($6.50). This is one of the few places in New Zealand that I know of where you can get these - coated in seasoning before being fried, they're crispy, flavourful and very bad for you. As a kid in the States, this was one of the only ways I'd eat potatoes. I'm surprised this hasn't caught on elsewhere!
Sweet Mother's Kitchen remains one of my perennial favourites, despite the frequent chaos in trying to get a table at peak times (they don't take bookings). I'm sure one of these days I'll write about something other than their breakfast, as the rest of their offerings are pretty acceptable, too.
RATING (for this visit): 4/5
Sweet Mother's Kitchen
5 Courtenay Place
(04) 385 4444
Open 8am-10:30pm Sun-Thurs, 8am-late Fri and Sat. All day breakfast on weekends :)