By STEVE MORRIS
Published: Saturday, February 18, 2012 | 7:14 AM
Mercedes Bumpus, Mama Claire (Claressa Black) and Wajeedah Young in the kitchen at Mama Claire’s Restaurant. [Photo: James Macpherson]
Got a hankerin’ for some good ol’ fashioned country fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans and sweet potato pie for dessert? Well, I reckon you won’t have to go far.
The place to go is Mama Claire’s Restaurant, located at 456 E. Orange Grove Boulevard, Suite 110, in Pasadena.
“I have a passion for cooking and it started when I was ten years old,” explains Claressa Black, owner of the restaurant, and known by everyone as Mama Claire. “While the other kids would go out to play, I’d stay in the kitchen and watch my mother cook. I was just in awe of my mother, her food, and how she did it.”
Mama Claire says the cuisine is American with a Southern flair. Born in L.A. and raised in Pasadena, Mama Claire admits that she inherited the Southern hospitality from her mother, who was born in Tennessee.
“American cuisine is sometimes called Soul food, because you cook from your soul and you don’t measure a lot,” says Mama Claire, who created the recipes on the extensive menu. “I was a single parent and times were hard. Sometimes I would go into the kitchen, look around in the cupboard and the freezer and think, ‘What can I put together to cook?’”
Mama Claire’s Restaurant is a family business and open to serve seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“My oldest daughter helps me run the restaurant, and I have two other daughters who work as servers and hostesses,” Mama Claire states. “ I’ve just always fed everyone as I was growing up and perfected everything on the menu with my own recipes.”
The menu includes items like Drop Top Burgers. These are Mama Claire’s unique sandwiches made of ground beef, on a French roll with spicy peppers and melted cheeses, and served with seasoned fries or fresh fruit. Other favorites include Mama Claire’s meat loaf, garlic mashed potatoes, and green beans.
“We also have delicious lobster bisque, which consists of lobster, shrimp, crab, and scallops,” says Mama Claire. “And one of the things we sell out almost every day is our delicious peach cobbler.”
Lots of parking is available at Mama Claire’s Restaurant, both on the street and in the building’s garage (accessible from both Los Robles and Orange Grove Ave). Catering is also available for groups large or small. You can reach Mama Claire’s by calling (626) 792-2257, or you can visit their website at www.mamaclaires.com.