Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bandana's again... sort of.

We take a HUGE aside this week. We had planned to dine at the Texas Roadhouse in Arnold. As we arrived a little past five P.M on Saturday we immediately realized there was going to be a problem. The parking lot was completely packed on all four sides, and there was not only a line at the door, there were two lines at the door, one going down each direction of the sidewalk.
Another thing we noticed, many but not all of the folks in line were in suits and nice dresses, which I thought was odd for a steak house. Actually we didn’t really notice it so much there until we decided to skip the Roadhouse and just pop in to the nearby Super Chinese Buffet. Which was also crowded, a long line poured outside, and once again many, but not all of the patrons were better dressed than one usually sees at such venues.
We started driving around the area and came across a place we hadn’t heard of, 54th Avenue Grill and Bar. It looked big and decent, so we pulled in and found yet another packed house with a long line. Once again, several nicely dressed people. The same was observed at a nearby Applebee’s as we drove past it.
It was near six PM by then and we were starting to get frustrated and hungry. So we extended our search down the road a mile or two and pulled in to the half-full Bandana’s Barbeque.
We’ve already reviewed Bandana’s, the one in Herculaneum, so it does not seem right to re-hash that which has already been discussed.
This location looked exactly like the other, the aroma was wonderful and the food quite good. The only recognizable difference in quality was the long wait times between ordering and delivery of the meals. I attributed this to the fact that shortly after arrival the place started filling up with people, many dressed rather nicely. By the time we were done the waiting line was about twenty people deep. The wait staff and management were scurrying about trying to keep up with demand.
The three of us switched up on our orders. I had my notebook with me and found the notes from the original trip to Bandana’s and (yes I carry a small notebook and write in it as we dine. No one has questioned it yet.) was able to recount what each of us had before.
I opted for pork and turkey with a baked potato and baked beans, Angel went for beef and pork, and Adam took on the chicken and the turkey. Adam went for fries and Angel the baked potato, both asked for the corn. And oh yeah, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and tea. (Ho-hum)
Since we were hungry we ordered an appetizer, something different and something none of us had ever tried; boiled peanuts.
That’s right folks, goober peas.

Sitting by the roadside on a summer's day
Chatting with my mess-mates, passing time away
Lying in the shadows underneath the trees
Goodness, how delicious, eating goober peas.
Peas, peas, peas, peas
Eating goober peas
Goodness, how delicious,
Eating goober peas.

(As I recall it was to the tune of the old Hymn 'Bringing in the Sheaves')

A celebrated old southern folk song, quite popular around the time of the Civil War, or as many of my southern brethren still refer to it, “The War of Northern Aggression.”

I first heard this song in a multimedia presentation* at the visitors center at Ft. Donelson National Battlefield in northwest Tennessee**, not too far from my birthplace and hometown in Kentucky. It was a school trip I’m pretty sure, though I don’t recall what grade I was in at the time. I recall paying attention to the presentation, so I was certainly younger than twelve. (From the age of twelve on I was singularly obsessed with girls and paid little attention to trivial historical matters.)
Anyway, though I heard the song and it stuck in my head I had no earthly idea what a goober pea was. We in Kentucky are considered by many as southerners, but we are at the northern tip of the south and not all deep-south traditions traveled up quite that far. Nor did very many nearby farms grow very many peanuts. Most peanuts I had as a youth were roasted, salted, shelled, professionally packaged, and could be bought for five cents per bag. (Half those would get poured into a fresh, ice cold bottle of RC Cola, or maybe a NuGrape, yummy!)
I like Peanuts, all three of us do. Angel brings home a few bags of the unshelled variety each trip to the market and they are a very common snack around our house. Angel also insists that they are quite messy when Adam and I have them, though I can’t say that I’ve ever noticed that.
We also usually have peanut butter in the house. I like it crunchy-style on off-brand round Ritz-like crackers. (I’m also kind of cheap) If Angel brings home the RIGHT graham crackers (no cinnamon thank you) I really, really like it on those. I like it so much that I’ve asked Angel to NOT bring home the non-cinnamon style of graham crackers because of my limited willpower.
We also like peanut oil, and would use it more often if it didn’t sell for OPEC – like prices. Deep frying anything in peanut oil is far better than canola or corn oil.
So why NOT try boiled peanuts?
They were served hot, very hot, as they should be. My research has turned up that properly prepared, small raw, preferably green peanuts are boiled in the shell for several hours in a heavy salt brine. This softens both the shell and the peas themselves. Additionally this process draws antioxidants from the shell into the pea making it nutritionally superior to other forms of preparation. Once served the shells peel right away with virtually no effort. The peas (peanuts are not nuts, they are legumes) are very, very soft which makes this method favorable to people with significant dental issues such as many of those that populated the deep south in the late nineteenth century.
Seven hours of boiling a green peanut gives you a pea that is nearly as tender as its boiled pea/bean cousins.

So there they were a large bowl of steamy, soggy peanuts. Angel tried one, Adam tried one. They didn’t say anything. I was timid about it and also preoccupied at not staring at the family of little people two tables down. (They were talking about their pet Rottweiler.)
I finally did try one.
The shell fell away very easily, the peas crumbled. The shell had the consistency of intestines; warm, slightly slimy, unappetizing. I scraped the pea bits out and certainly tasted the brine, but not much else. Maybe it was a dud, I thought and I tried another.
In my mouth the pea broke down further, but not completely. It was gritty like a chicken gizzard or coarse corn meal. The taste was brine, not peanut. I didn’t hate the taste; I just could not discern it completely. The texture was wholly off-putting though. I did try a third one and the results were exactly the same. Angel and Adam tried a couple more apiece, but then that was it. The rest of the mushy, tepid peanuts just sat. The final verdict was Angel’s statement “At least we tried them.” This is about as damning a gastronomic obituary as Angel would ever put on a food item that she herself had suggested.
The main courses finally arrived and we gorged ourselves with the meat, the sides and of course the best Texas toast this side of Wichita Falls.*** We did note that the beef tended to be on the dry side but the five sauces that were provided overcame that.
We were stuffed but anticipating future desires so we ordered dessert, to go. Angel and Adam split a batch of donut holes, I asked for and was pleasantly surprised to find out that unlike our experience a few weeks ago (it was in my notes), THIS Bandana’s indeed served apple pie. In fact the waitress mentioned that they had recently dropped all other pie choices. (Perhaps because of my scathing online rebuke?)****
I never did find out why so many people were so dressed up on Saturday evening in Arnold. Maybe some of my local fans can shed some light? A Lent thing perhaps? A festival of some sort?
We’ll get back on track this coming weekend. We’ve now established a policy of having at least one backup place in mind so we don’t get shut out like this again. And unless this hordes-of-dressed-up-people mystery is solved, we may just avoid Arnold altogether.

* Multimedia Presentation, circa late 1960’s. A filmstrip automatically advanced by hidden tones on a narration/music playback soundtrack. I can explain it in great technical detail as I am college educated in audio/visual techniques of that period. For that matter I am also certified to teach vacuum tube theory. Man I’m old.

** Ft. Donnelson. Now that I think about it might have been at Wilson’s Creek Battlefield in Springfield MO, some twenty years later. Help me out fans, does anyone else recall hearing this song played at either of those places?

*** Wichita Falls Texas is home to Sheppard Air Force Base, where I first learned vacuum tube theory and subsequently taught it. See how it all ties together?

**** Apple pie rebuke. You’ll have to open up the original Bandana’s review. I could copy/paste it here for you, but frankly I do, and I do, and I do for you people and what do I get in return? Nada… so open it yourselves… you could probably use the exercise anyhow.

***** Why is it that ‘shelled’ peanuts have no shells but ‘unshelled’ peanuts do? Is someone deliberately making our language more complicated than necessary? It’s like dressing a chicken means to take away it’s feathers, which is certainly more like un-dressing it… Who’s in charge of this stuff?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Oriental Buffet

774 S. Truman Blvd.
Festus Mo

Brand new, just opened next to the big one dollar store and the Great Clips in the Crystal City Center in Festus. We’ve been watching this place for its opening since we first discovered that this is what the old Cici’s Pizza (yuk) would become. Our closest Chinese buffet burned down several months ago and we have going through serious withdrawal ever scene.
The parking lot around the new restaurant was crowded. We looked in and saw that there were indeed people standing inside the door waiting. We went in, squeezed in and weighed our options. We don’t like waits and there were fifteen or more people in front of us. We discussed canceling our plans and going over to Bandana’s (the barbecue place we reviewed and loved in early December). Just as we turned to leave the cork popped. The proprietor called out to, then escorted a group of ten or so to the back room. The line suddenly dropped to us and a couple of others. We decided to stay.
The place:
The place was obviously new; shiny, freshly painted and very clean. At the counter there were the obligatory jade statues and resin Buddhas. There was also a wooden model of an old American car, don’t ask me why.
The wait was not long. We were escorted to a table near the back. Three chairs, mine sat nearly in the aisle. Before we were even seated the gentleman took our drink orders, tea, tea and Coke. He pointed us to the buffet line, though he didn’t need to.
The Food:
I grabbed a plate (plastic) and proceeded to ladle and tong on small portions of several things. Many I was familiar with though there were a couple of things that just looked or sounded good. Four or five kinds of chicken, pepper steak, something with fake crab, some breaded / fried shrimp. There were two kinds of rice, plain and fried. I took a little of both. Noodles, rangoons, and a couple of pot stickers. No egg foo young (yummy!) or wontons to be found anywhere.

Adam managed to nab the last of the ‘chicken on a stick’. The food was going fast and being replaced almost as fast. There was also an iced bin containing sushi. I avoided it. I know what sushi is, is supposed to be and what it is at it’s best. If you knew sushi like I know sushi . . . ;-)
I have tried it in Japan, California, Maryland and Missouri. I just do not like sushi. It’s the rice, that nasty sweet sticky rice. This place may make exceptional sushi, I’ll never know because to me even exceptional sushi is awful.
Among the new things was something called spinach pie. A wonton wrap around a wallet sized heap of spinach with some creamy stuff mixed in. It was bigger than I needed just to try it, but it had possibilities. I like spinach in small proportions like in a salad or dip. I don’t care for it Popeye style. I also came across some breaded and fried corn, like that we discovered at ‘Off The Hook.’ These were smaller, about the size of a buckeye.
My plate full, I was first back to the table. Angel followed with a similar cross-sample. Adam had fewer items (picky, picky, picky) but more of them.
I tried the rice first. I had about a tablespoon of the fried and nearly as much of the plain. The reason I got both styles of rice was because just looking at the fried rice I could tell there was a problem. It was moist and sticky looking as fried rice should not be. Fried rice is at its best when made with leftover plain rice, slightly dry. This appeared to be fresh boiled rice that was quickly tossed into a wok. It just doesn’t work as well, too much moisture. Also, there appeared to be bits of onion but no signs of any other vegetable. I was not wrong, the rice was disappointing. The China Buffet/Buffet China (late November) in Arnold got it about as close to right that I’ve found outside Springfield Mo. (The American Mecca for Chinese food). I can make it better myself, just ask Angel. I don’t very often because Chinese food is very messy and time consuming to make at home.
The various chickens were tender, juicy and quite good as long as we didn’t eat too much. One called ‘Honey Chicken’ was absolutely wonderful until the third or fourth honey glazed nugget. At that point the sweetness was more like Krispy Kreme than Asian. The General Tsao’s was not as spicy as other places, but it was okay.
The noodles were fine, not overcooked or over spiced. The shrimp was shrimp. Angel had an eggroll and handed me the butt of it. I didn’t especially care for it, it lacked depth.
Egg rolls and fried rice are best when the individual items are made individually to their best doneness. You want the veggies to still have some crispiness and taste. If you cook all the ingredients together until they are all done you end up with a mushy single flavor. This is what we found with the eggroll and the rice here. Angel agreed that the egg rolls lacked discernable vegetable zing.
The spinach pie, like the honey chicken, was good for a bite or two, after that it was too rich and spinachy. In smaller proportions this offering has definite possibilities, a spinach rangoon maybe.

The dessert line was missing a crucial offering, bananas in thick strawberry red sauce. Therefore I had no dessert.
I had plenty to eat though. Round two consisted of more Gen. Tsao’s , more noodles, more shrimp, more pepper steak, another rangoon and another pot sticker. I also tried the sweet and sour chicken, but just a little. I do not know who decided that s/s chicken needs two parts pancake batter to one part chicken. All you need is slightly breaded (if at all) chicken chunks. It’s the sauce that makes it sweet and sour, not the inch thick breading.
If making Chinese at home, make the chicken chunks light and plain, only mildly seasoned. Then make/open up individual sauces and coat or dip at the table as the diner chooses. A s/s sauce, cashew / oyster sauce, peppered soy sauce, barbecue, you name it. There is no need to individually coat and cook five different kinds of chicken. (Sorry, soap-boxing again)
I’m going to grade this place in the upper eighties or lower nineties, primarily because the bar for Chinese food seems to be pretty low around here. It also gets a double boost from the fact that it’s a buffet. 1. You can pick and choose only the items there you like (and there’s plenty to choose from) 2. You can eat as much of any of it as you can hold, which makes the bang for the buck pretty hard to beat.
The China Buffet/Buffet China was a good deal better than this place. However it’s in Arnold which is further away from home and not near anything we might already be out doing. The Oriental Buffet is next door to the place I get my hair cut and just up from Aldi’s (where we do some grocery shopping) and Walmart.
The price was great; buffets can be a real bargain; less than thirty five dollars for three ravenous adults. That’s just a few bucks more than we paid for those very disappointing hot dogs last week.
I also gave this place a break because of its newness. The staff is new, the equipment is new and it may just need some time to settle in to be a fine place. We will go back, that’s not even a debate. It’s inexpensive, convenient and much, much better than several other Chinese places we’ve been to.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The DogHouse Diner

1185 Scenic, Suite 153

Herculaneum, Mo!/pages/Herculaneum-MO/The-Doghouse-Diner/192860966412?v=wall

We spotted this place a few weeks ago, it shares a parking lot with La Pachanga, the mediocre Mexican restaurant we recently visited. DogHouse is of course a hot dog diner, specializing in ‘Chicago style’ hot dogs.

The Place:

The diner boasted one entire customer as we went in. The place was shiny, bright and crisp. Brightly painted red and yellow walls, the color of a hot dog, or catsup and mustard. The floor consisted of thick and broad brown stone tiles. The tables and chairs were new, stylish and black as were the bar and stools. Around the walls were scores of framed posters and magazine ads harking back to an early optimistic America. There was one TV screen a modern flat panel set to the old TV show channel, ‘I Love Lucy’ was on.

We chose our seats at a table along the wall. It was a tight fit. We’re not huge people but there was not a lot of elbow room. These tables were designed for two, arranged for four.

The menus were simple sleeved one sheeters with hot dogs, burgers and sides featured on one side, pizzas and salads on the other. We were asked about drinks, Angel asked for a Diet Coke and was informed that they only served Pepsi products. She switched to tea. Adam ordered a Pepsi, and I, of course also asked for tea.

The Food:

We scanned the menu, asking for a bit more time. There were no pictures to guide us. Though the diner boasts fifteen types of hot dogs, in reality they offer the same all-beef hot dog with a dozen or so variations of toppings. Chili, cheese, onions, relish, pickle spears, slaw, etc. The sides were billed as appetizers and there was a large selection, waffle fries, onion rings fried cauliflower, pickles, even mini burritos.

Angel ordered a chili dog, Adam and I had picked one called a ‘Miss Lou’ Angel and Adam went for the waffle fries, I got the onion rings.

The Miss Lou was basically a chili dog with cheese. Adam ordered his without onions, which in my mind made it NOT a Miss Lou.

As we sat waiting with our drinks Adam blew a straw wrapper at his mother. I decided to get in on the fracas but discovered that Adam had already taken my straw. A horrific fight ensued. He remarked that I don’t use a straw, ever, which in his defense is true. Ever since that terrible incident with a cup of very hot cup of coffee, I equate straws with searing, hellish pain. Still, just because I don’t use a straw doesn’t mean it becomes public domain. I shut him down completely by scooping up all the wrappers. If I can’t have fun, nobody can.

The tea was completely tasteless. Enough so that even Angel commented on its weakness.

The dogs arrived very quickly, even before the fries and rings. The dogs were served in brown resin salad bowls. There was no paper lining the bowl, which we’ll discuss at length later.

The frank was fat and pink, but not as long as the bun. The bun itself was a letdown. It was a garden variety grocery store white-bread bun, exactly like the cheap ones you give kids for lunch. The chili seemed different; it was later in the meal that Angel popped the question. “Is this meatless chili with beans?” I looked closer, sure enough it looked like canned chili without the meat. Brown sauce with beans. This struck us as odd since when we usually have chili on a hot dog it is bean-less with meat. I had never even heard of meatless chili with beans. Not that it was bad, it had very little taste at all, and mine was lukewarm to tepid, while the frank itself was steamy hot.

The all-beef frank they served was billed as being ‘not available in grocery stores, shipped in from Chicago’. Fine, that’s nice, but they tasted like old fashioned all beef franks, nothing really unique.

The cheese and onions were also mere grocery store fare.

The waffle fries turned out to be the high point of the meal. The onion rings were fine, but the fries were especially good.

As the meal progressed my bun started to dissolve into a thick, gloppy paste. As the frank cooled it’s taste shifted slightly to not-so-good. The chili which started out barely above room temperature had cooled even more.

It was not disgusting, but it was disappointing. We finished up and once again Angel took care of the ugly financials. I decided to say nothing about the meal so as not to taint opinion. It didn’t take long for Angel and Adam to express their opinions, Adam said it best. “We could have had the same thing at home.”

Maybe those particular franks weren’t available in grocery stores, but some that taste pretty much the same are. They come in packages of ten and you can usually get them on sale for about a buck. After that add whatever mustard, onions and cheese you have in the fridge, nuke some canned chili, and voila! You’ve got pretty much the same meal.

Angel re-mentioned the odd chili and agreed with Adam. She added that we could have done it considerably cheaper at home as well.


Nearly thirty damn dollars. Three hot dogs, three sides, a Pepsi and two glasses of brown water. The bill was actually twenty six and change but with the merit based tip of two dollars, close enough. Too much for not so much.

We even discussed simple ways to improve the experience. Angel brought up the lack of paper in the hot dog bowls. I griped about the bun, and how a slightly better bread would have made it much better or even if they just toasted them they wouldn’t have turned into paste. And how about this, something, ANYTHING that was unique or fancy or original. “I wonder if their hamburgers are any good.” Angel queried. I responded that that was irrelevant as they billed themselves as a hot dog diner so it didn’t matter how good their hamburgers were. We spoke a bit about their lack of marketing savvy. They have no web site, though they do have a Facebook page with only thirty friends, which does not even include a menu.

I really, really wanted to like this place, I liked the idea of a gourmet hot dog diner. What we got was near gourmet prices for common food We really couldn’t recommend those place except to someone who specifically wanted a hotdog and if they also happened to be in that particular parking lot. I’m being generous giving it a score of eighty. The waffle fries were good after all.

Next week: There’s a new Chinese Buffet in Festus!!!!

Dog House Diner on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Off the Hook

12636 State Route 21
De Soto, MO
Jan. 30

I go to Desoto at least once per week, that is I almost go to Desoto. I actually go to the Walmart that is on the northern tip of the town; I don’t actually drive in to the main part of the town very often at all. Between my house and this Walmart is a restaurant that I’ve intended to try for the past three and a half years but just never got around to it. Angel and Adam had lunch there once, during a workday when her parents drove through from Springfield (MO) for a quick visit.
We arrived Saturday evening a little later than we usually go out since we had to wait for a dog owner to pick up his dog. We got a call from him around six saying he was still fighting bad roads near Sikeston. This gave us easily a couple of hours so we made tracks. We’d received three or more inches ourselves, but since it was Saturday I had spent the better part of the day clearing our driveway, the maintenance crews had done a cracker-jack job of clearing the roads, including the country road we live on.
The parking lot was near full, Angel didn’t even bother circling the entire lot six or seven times looking for a spot an inch or two closer to the door like she normally does. The first thing I noticed is that the vast majority of vehicles in the lot were trucks, big full-sized pickup trucks of all makes and models. To us this meant only that we had found the locals, Angel’s full size SUV was not out of place.
As we entered we noticed a couple of couples standing inside, there was going to be a wait. A cheerful lady in jeans and a titular tee shirt* approached and informed us that it would be about ten minutes. We found a bench that fit two; I stood and pretended to read the bulletin board. Angel saw me doing this and tacked up her own business card alongside one for the rescue operation she works with (C.A.R.E.).
In about ten minutes we were led back to our table where we fought over seating arrangements. To be honest it wasn’t a fight it was a jumbled, clumsy and confused discussion. As I am the word and description guy for this blog thingy, I like to sit where I can best see around the establishment. This isn’t always the most logical or practical arrangement, sometimes I sit beside Adam, sometimes beside Angel. As our table was somewhat in the middle of the floor here, it took a moment for me to decide.
The Place:
The restaurant was smaller inside than I had imagined it would be. It may have just seemed that way since it was packed to the rafters. It was nothing fancy, wainscoted and flat white walls up to a white ceiling, dark unremarkable industrial carpet. It did appear clean and well tended. The tables and chairs were wood, the tabletops bore local advertisements laminated to the surface with thick, shiny epoxy. It was quite colorful and a more interesting read than the year-of-the-animal placemats that you find at many Chinese joints. Angel noted a stack of yellow cards next to the condiments that announced they were going to have new tables made and were looking for advertisers. I mentioned that I’d like one of the old ones. I’m sure Angel is on the phone right now trying to procure one, because she loves me that much.
The décor was heavily fish themed. Fish, fishing poles, tackle, bait signs, pictures of fish, poles and bait signs, etc. Directly in the middle, beside our table was a handsomely framed in aquarium, one hundred plus gallons. It was bright, well maintained and filled with medium sized tropical fish; including some of the largest tetras I can recall seeing.
The place was noisy, but a good noisy. Talk, laughter, the clinks and clanks of dinnerware, the occasional baby squealing (yes they apparently still allow small children in restaurants, there ought to be a law) The noise reminded me a big family meal, well, not necessarily my own family’s meals which are generally small and pretty quiet. I refer to those big family meals you see on TV and read about in books where everyone is in good cheer and enjoying each other’s company. I’m sure they actually occur somewhere.
The menus were delivered, the drinks were ordered; tea, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi. Angel prefers Coke, but apparently this was not an option. Angel groaned a little which was picked up by our waitress (also wearing a titular tee shirt) and she made note that she favored Coke products as well. I found this entire discussion beneath me because if you’re a regular reader you already know my opinion of soda pop.
The food, part one:
We did something we rarely ever do, ever rarer than order dessert. We ordered appetizers. Probably because of the later hour we were pretty hungry, and I’d been shoveling all day meaning I had actually burned off some food for once. We couldn’t decide on one that we all liked so we asked for two; crab rangoons for Angel and I, and popcorn chicken for the very picky Adam. The waitress pointed out that it was just as cheap to order three appetizers as two since they had a special price for a ‘treble’. We were powerless to debate it, and went ahead and asked for the fried corn nuggets.
That’s right food fans, they take a small wad of whole kernel and some cream corn, bread it and deep fry it, in this case each was the size of somewhere between an aggie** and a golf ball.
The drinks came in thick plastic tumblers, Adam notice that mine, the tea, was emblazoned with a Pepsi logo, whereas Angel and Adam’s containing actual Pepsi products were not. He’s pretty good at noticing irony, I like that about him. I assume the Pepsi’s were fizzy, bubbly and sweet (or fake sweet), but the tea was virtually tasteless. It may as well have been ice water.
We made it through most of our drinks before the appetizers arrived, but when they did it was a feeding frenzy. The rangoons were on the slightly sweet side with a definite chunk of some sort of sea creature. Adam’s popcorn chicken went pretty quickly, and we all swooned over the fried corn balls. They were simply superb. If you’ve ever had corn/cornbread casserole, that’s pretty close to these little delights.

The Food, part two:
Angel ordered one of the daily specials, a French dip beef sandwich with ‘home chips’ and slaw. Adam went for the chicken fired steak sandwich with home chips. I ordered what I’d known I would since I first saw this place; catfish. I love catfish. The catfish dinner included fries and gave me a choice of two sides. I chose slaw and baked beans, because that’s what SHOULD go with catfish.
Fortunately it took a while for the main courses to arrive. We of little willpower had gorged ourselves on the treble appetizers and needed the break. When it did arrive we were not disappointed. One look at my plate and I knew I would be asking for a box later. There were four medium sized fillets and about six to eight cubic inches of fries. The slaw and beans were served in rather small ramekins.
I tried the sides first. The slaw was of the non-milky type. It was sweet and sour like a home made sweet pickle. I actually prefer a buttermilk based slaw, like KFC used to serve, not so vinegary, but this was very fresh and bright. The beans were pretty decent, made form scratch and not overly flavored; sweet and a little smoky with a just a hint of heat.
Angel and Adam’s home chips were pretty good. They were not too thick but not quite as thin as commercial potato chips and cooked to brown. My fries were okay, but only that, perhaps only when compared to the catfish which was absolutely perfect. Moist, flaky and only lightly breaded with corn meal, I wanted more even before I finished the first bite. They didn’t offer a lemon to squeeze on them, which would have them even a little better. I only just now realized that so that’s how good the fish was.
Adam’s CFS sandwich lacked gravy, otherwise excellent. Angel’s French dip beef was terrific, the meat fell apart and melted away on contact.

We did indeed get a box, I only managed to finish two of the fillets and about two and a half cubic inches of the fries. Angel only managed half her sandwich and between us there were a few chips left. The fish didn’t make it past lunchtime on Sunday, it made an exceptional wrap. It was moist enough that even reheating it didn’t dry it out. The leftover fries were flaccid and unremarkable.
It was a truly happy place, the atmosphere, even though crowded and loud was fun, maybe comfortable is the proper word. Two birthdays occurred while we were there, and sure enough the aforementioned tee-shirted staff did the generic clappy and singy birthday song, delivering a cup of ice cream with a candle to those claiming to celebrate their special day. Normally this bugs the tar out of me, but not so much this time. It was like harking back to a simpler, warm, comfortable and happy time that I really don’t think I actually ever experienced for myself, you know like the fifties, The Waltons, or My Three Sons.
All in all I’ll give this experience a high ninety something.. Not ninety nine, maybe a ninety six. What made it all the better was the price. I let Angel handle the tab again, she’s much better at sophisticated financial matters than I am, she reported that the entire bill came in under forty nine dollars. That included a generous tip (she liked the titular tee-shirted wait staff as well) and recall, we had three appetizers! Without the tip and the yummy starters the bill would have been around twenty dollars less… and we still would have all eaten to our fill.
Recommended, we'll be back!

* ‘Titular tee shirt.’ I could have said ‘Tee shirt emblazoned with the restaurant’s logo.’ but that doesn’t make the twelve year old boy in me giggle near as much. The word 'titular' is defined as (second or third definition) : “From the title or derived from the title.” In “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” Huck is the titular character, as is the white whale in “Moby Dick”. (giggling again) The tee shirts worn by the staff of ‘Off the Hook’ all bore the restaurant’s name.

** Aggie. You had to look this up? It’s a marble, the kind kids used to play with before video games and G.I Joes were invented (and led to the inevitable downfall of civilization). Way back when parents actually encouraged kids to play in the dirt. At least my parents encouraged me to play in the dirt; come to think of it though they also told me to ward off an attack I should punch grizzly bears in the face. This, thanks to the Discovery Channel, has led to the start of some general trust issues. But I digress.