Burnt Hills

At the Table: Quick-stop Mama’s is more than just ice cream

Traditional fast-food favorites also on the menu
The bright sign welcomes customers at Mama’s in Burnt Hills.
The bright sign welcomes customers at Mama’s in Burnt Hills.

Categories: Life & Arts

It was a dark and stormy afternoon. As quickly as the sunshine gave way to dark gray clouds, the sky dumped barrels of water on Burnt Hills.

Fortunately, Mama’s ice cream had an overhang that kept the window and customer dry.

Despite the soggy day, the Mama’s building almost glowed with a rainbow logo, colorful signs and large pots of gaily growing flowers. 

Besides being billed as an ice cream location, Mama’s sign adds “and food” — which was why we made the trip up Route 50.

The Mama’s menu was short and predictable: just a couple of items under classic categories like burgers, fish, hot dogs (Nathan’s), quesadillas, salads, Greek gyros, sandwiches, sides and snacks. And, of course, ice cream (more than 20 flavors).

We were in a food mood, but our ice cream — a dish of soft vanilla for me, a cone of Moose Tracks for my guest ($4.75 each) — arrived before our food. There seemed to be a back-up in the kitchen. We were unconcerned. I’ve always believed one should eat dessert first. Life is short.

My vanilla ice cream tasted artificial. Guest referred to its flavor as “medicinal.” I respect vanilla because it is transparent — a real test of flavor and quality. Perhaps I should have chosen chocolate. I was once told by an ice cream maker that all flavors of leftover ice cream are blended and chocolate is added, so pure chocolate ice cream is rarely produced.

Guest had no complaints about his Moose Tracks. Chocolate and peanut butter can cover a variety of flaws — if indeed there were any.

Our next course consisted of sharing an order of excellent fried onion rings ($5). They were rushed out to the car during a deluge by a smiling staff member. The rings were still hot on the inside and crispy on the outside. We ate them on the spot while the huge rain drops pelted the windshield.

When I returned to the last spoonful or two of my soft ice cream, I found the flavor had miraculously improved. I remembered that the same glass of wine tastes different with different foods. Perhaps the same is true for soft ice cream? 

Favorite Friend’s fish fry dinner, which consisted of an unidentified rectangle of what appeared to be previously frozen breaded fish, was accompanied by fries and a garden salad ($9). He remarked that the salad included the best Italian dressing he’s had recently in a restaurant. My take on the same dressing was that it was bottled “lite” Italian. While I meant absolutely no offense to the bottler or to Mama’s, I smiled at the difference of opinion two people could have about the same food. 

A hungry man, Guest also ordered a Buffalo-chicken-and-cheese quesadilla ($8). A cheese-only quesadilla was $2 less. The piece I sampled was much like a thin crepe folded with cheddar cheese. There was no discernible meat — Buffalo chicken or otherwise — in the piece I ate. Guest concurred with my analysis.

I’m a fan of gyros, especially lamb gyros. Mama’s offered beef and chicken gyros ($7.25) as well as lamb ($7.50). The wrap was too thick for me to bite easily, so I did the next best thing and ate the contents with the supplied plastic fork. I expected small chunks of seasoned lamb in my gyro, but the meat had been ground and formed into tender, flavorful patties. The tzatziki sauce had coagulated a bit, but the overall effect with thinly sliced onions, shredded lettuce, black olives and small pieces of tomato was enjoyable.

Had the day been more pleasant, we would have sat at one of the tables spaced the prescribed 6 feet from each other on the covered patio. Large planters added to the festive ambience. Despite the day’s stormy weather and the uncertainty of the world’s current health concerns, Mama’s offered a colorful oasis for fast food and a variety of ice cream flavors.


WHERE: 119 Lakehill Road, Burnt Hills; (518) 280-5641
WHEN: Food 12-9 p.m., ice cream 12-10 p.m.
HOW MUCH: $37.75 with tax but excluding tip
MORE INFO: Ample parking, accessible, credit cards, patio for outdoor dining, hand sanitizer available on patio

Leave a Reply