Catch the catfish at Southern-inspired Mama’s Kitchen

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Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Where: 611 Main St., Vancouver.

Telephone: 360-597-3260. Information on Mama's Kitchen may be found on Facebook as well.

Health score: Mama's Kitchen received a score of 0 on November 4 on a follow-up inspection after a routine inspection produced a score of 17 on October 14. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.

Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Where: 611 Main St., Vancouver.

Telephone: 360-597-3260. Information on Mama’s Kitchen may be found on Facebook as well.

Health score: Mama’s Kitchen received a score of 0 on November 4 on a follow-up inspection after a routine inspection produced a score of 17 on October 14. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.

Why: For the past year and a half, Joseph Richburg, who moved to Washington from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, has been the owner of Mama’s Kitchen. He has crafted a menu that offers Southern comfort food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week, as well as a Cajun Day on the first and third Sunday of each month.

What I tried: I was there on a Cajun Day evening and decided to try the catfish with red beans and rice. I noted that the family seated near me ordered the made-to-order fried chicken, which sounded delicious, but since I had yet to encounter what I consider good catfish on my dining ventures in Clark County, I approached this as another opportunity to discover tasty catfish. I was not disappointed. What arrived at the table reminded me of the catfish my dad used to prepare after a day of successful fishing. Thick, crosscut fillet portions were covered in a seasoned cornmeal and flour batter, then fried to a crispy golden exterior that yielded to a flaky, yummy meat portion that was absent fishy-tasting gray meat — as fish should be. The flavor of the red beans and rice that accompanied the fish was authentic, Louisiana style with pieces of very spicy sausage incorporated. A slice of toasted Texas-style toast was served with the dish and came in handy for sopping up the bean sauce.

Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Breakfast items include three-egg omelets with hash browns and toast, as well as chicken-fried steak and a two-pork chop and egg breakfast. Soup is made fresh daily and can be paired with a half sandwich or salad for a heartier option. A Junk in the Trunk burger combines two half-pound patties, two slices of Swiss cheese, two slices of cheddar cheese, grilled peppers and onions, lettuce, and special sauce on three slices of grilled Texas-style toast. The after-5 p.m. dinner selections are served with soup or salad, fresh bread and vegetables. Among the choices are spaghetti with meat sauce, roast pork with mashed potatoes, and liver and onions with mashed potatoes.

Atmosphere: The original rock facade greets you from the street and empties into a small foyer that leads into the restaurant. Small tables covered in picnic-style red-and-white checks line a hallway directly across from the diner-type kitchen. There is a more formal dining room with cheerful yellow walls, traditional dining room furniture and attractive stained-glass lights that seats approximately 20 guests just to the right of the entry. Indoor/outdoor carpet covers the floors and the ceiling is a drop T-bar with white panels. In my opinion, the space has eclipsed old-time charm and shows as tattered. I believe it would greatly benefit from renovation.

Other observations: The wait staff, though not dressed in uniform, was very courteous and attentive and, from my own experience and observation, makes diners feel like special guests.

If the space got an overhaul, and the wait staff were spiffed up, it would do the food justice.

Cost: Breakfast selections start at $1.50 for a cup of grits and top out at $9 for steak and eggs. Sandwiches and burgers are $5 to $20. Soup and salads are $2.50 to $8. Dinner items cost $8 to $13. Desserts are $2, $3 and $4.