TV Dinners, Without the TV 

Bistro Goes Lowbrow Gourmet

TV dinners denote loneliness, and isolation from the world via television, not to mention excessive amounts of preservatives, sodium, and late-night Marijuana consumption. Not anymore, however, as Mother's Bistro has brought the TV dinner full circle, turning it into a gourmet delicacy, enjoyed downtown among friends with nary a television in sight.

In a much-appreciated effort to diversify the Portland nightlife options, the pristinely decorated breakfast Mecca Mother's has decided to stay open late.

After the dining room closes down, food is served in their beautiful chandelier-clad bar, among dim light, comfy chairs, cocktails, and the occasional waft of cigarette smoke, much like I imagine rich society folk enjoyed their suppers in the 1950s; the only difference now is the food is served in compartmented ceramic trays rather than on silver platters.

When I perused Mother's TV Dinner menu, I was thrilled to see one of my kid-hood favorites--chicken and dumplings, along with pot roast, meatloaf, black bean enchiladas, or pasta. I, of course, ordered the chicken, which was upgraded from the traditional version with choice pieces of white meat pulled from the bone, stewed together in a light chicken gravy, accompanied by two airy, bready dumplings the size of tangerines. While I must admit, I almost prefer the gelatinous, white trash Bisquick dumplings my Aunt Connie used to make, the meal was still delicious--a gourmet version of a nearly forgotten classic.

My gentleman friend ordered the pot roast, which was also exceptional; slices of tender, pungent Painted Hills beef, cooked long enough to split apart easily with a fork. Accompanied with an insanely delicious, dense pile of mashed red potatoes, a buttery biscuit, and an amazingly crispy corn and zucchini medley, it was like the home-cooked meal you wish you were spooning up at the dinner table. Both meals came with one of the restaurant's simple but mind-blowing desserts squared off in the corner, which on this evening was the warm, sweet, and tangy blueberry crisp. Mother's drinks and desserts are worth the trip alone.

If you're heading out for one of Mother's meals--day or night--be warned: their name aptly describes the cuisine. This isn't a place for wimps and dieters; you can taste the butter in the biscuits, cobblers, and mashed potatoes, and the gravy is thick and ladled on. It's worth it, though, especially if you're building up a defense wall before a big night of drinking, if you need some comfort food, or if you just want a delicious dinner after 10 o'clock at night.

TV Dinners served weekdays after 9:30 pm, weekends after 10 pm; closed Sunday evenings & Mondays

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