Monday, November 4, 2013

Off the Hook

12636 Highway 21
DeSoto, Mo.
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For the second weekend in a row, my mind was elsewhere. I had scheduled work planned for the middle of the night. A lot of IT system maintenance goes on in the overnight hours. This time it was the time change. Every autumn we shut down some of our systems to let the time change smoothly, else the system will think it is seeing into the future and become confident that it has super-human powers. Should that ever be allowed to happen, well, you've seen what happened with SkyNet (Terminator).
Earlier in the day I'd gone out with a friend, Dan, to solicit door to door. We're gathering petition signatures to get a Hillsboro Library on the ballot again. To say that I don't enjoy door to door canvassing, is like saying I don't enjoy massive trauma or jumping out of airplanes.  There are people that handle that sort of thing well, like Dan, he actually won a seat on the local school board doing this sort of thing. Me? I don't like walking up to perfect strangers and asking them for favors, especially when the rejection rate is exacerbated by intense political passions. I went along though, even rang a few doorbells. I was never comfortable doing it, but it was for a good cause and I'd promised to help out.
So by the time dinner time came around, I was way off my rhythm. I had a headache,  felt drained, and just wanted to crawl into bed. But it was my week to choose a place.
I had nothing in mind, not even a food type preference. Somehow though I eventually decided I wanted fish, preferably catfish. That meant one thing. Off The Hook.
I reviewed my last review of the place and made mental note of my concerns. I occasionally do this to see if there have been improvements.
We piled into the family truckster and took off. I mentioned my symptoms, saying that I thought I was coming down with something. Angel dismissed it as allergies. She dismisses everything I suffer as allergies. If I hopped into the house carrying my severed left leg in my hands she'd say it was allergies.
Luckily, this time, she was not completely wrong. I feel much better now that that weather front has moved through. Still though, just because she's been right every time up until this point, doesn't mean she will be next time.
The Food:
OTH means a couple of things. First, to me, catfish. More importantly, to Angel, it means corn poppers. We love these things. It's almost embarrassing that we love them so much, it's so stereotypically midwestern. Flour batter, whole kernel corn, balled up and deep fried. Absolutely no nutritional value, yet terribly addictive.
OTH offers these as an appetizer, we always order them. For me it's a test of brute willpower. They represent everything I've been trying to eliminate from my habitual diet, yet they are so darned tasty. I look at them and wonder; Gee, maybe just one hit of heroin today?
We ordered our drinks, tea, sweet tea and Pepsi. Angel also ordered the appetizer, plus another platter of sweet poison, crab rangoons. Oddly enough this quaint, homey, fishing themed place, in its remote and rural setting, makes better rangoons than most of the Chinese restaurants in the area.
Two deep fried, heavily breaded treats in front of me. I imagined myself crawling around on the floor of a bus station restroom sniffing out just one more hit of these magical, marvelous treasures. I was finally able to limit myself of one of each though, through sheer, super-human determination.
After the appetizers arrived we ordered our meals. It was then that something amazing happened.
In the previous review I'd complained about the portion sizes and meal makeup. I'd ordered the catfish plate, which ended up being four big filets, two hushpuppies and a pile of thick fries. It was simply waaaay too much deep fried starchy stuff for one plate.
The last time I ordered the Catfish
The young lady taking our order stopped both Angel and I after we asked for the catfish and asked: "The two piece or the four piece?" I was impressed, we both asked for the two. It got really amazing then. "Do you want the fries with that or not?"
In that last review I'd mentioned that I didn't eat any of the fries because it was simply too much fried breaded/starchy stuff.
Both of us declined the fries.
For sides, I asked for baked beans and a salad with sweet onion dressing. Angel sided white beans and Ranch for her salad.
The reduced portion version.
Adam asked for the Chipotle Ranch Baked Chicken with corn and mashed potatoes and gravy.
The salads came pretty quick, I plucked out the croutons and slipped them onto the rangoon platter. The salads were simple, yet fresh and crispy. Iceberg lettuce, julienned carrots and shredded cheese.
The entrees arrived soon enough, I was giddy. Though the plates looked nearly empty and lacked garnishments, knowing how heavy and delicious the food was told me that I would actually not be wasting much at this meal.
There are people out there that can eat four filets, a pile of fries, hush puppies two sides and a couple of appetizers, I am not one of them. Seeing this simple plate indicated to me that either OTH had read my review, or they'd been monitoring the trash.
The fish was excellent, as Angel put it, "perfectly crisp and flaky." Catfish has a stronger, earthier fish taste than cod, salmon or tilapia, but for some reason I prefer it. It may be because of my southern, river roots. Though I don't recall ever eating catfish when I was a kid. In fact, the only fish I recall from my charmed youth were frozen fish sticks. I liked them, especially with ketchup. I've mentioned before, my childhood was not a gastronomic  festival, we had simple food that was easy to prepare. My mother is a poet, a musician, a minister and a teacher. She just never got passionate about the more domestic pursuits. We always had food, it was just never upscale, fancy, or delicious. I don't blame her, not at all. We all, except with the possible exception of my sister, turned out just fine. We can all cook too, we learned early.
Baked Chipotle Ranch Chicken
The hush puppies were good as well. The chef at OTH is a master deep fryer, nothing tasted greasy.
The portions turned out to be perfect. I applaud OTH for overtly offering the option to pare down.
Adam liked the little roll that came with his meal, he asked  me if there was a name for that kind. I told him I didn't know, but this indicated to me that it was a hit with him. He liked everything else as well.
I couldn't quite finish my meal, I was still feeling a bit queasy. Angel again blamed it on my allergies, again, she was apparently correct, this time.
It was all good, in fact, it was very good. I didn't feel intimidated or weighed down by the portions. The only non-positive comments I could dig out were about the salad, Angel said she didn't like having to cut up lettuce, it was a bit large. Adam said the gravy didn't seem real. Maybe a pre-fab mix or something, it didn't taste like it had actually been made with natural, in-house meat au jous. (gesundheit!) Also, my baked beans were a little too sweet, not a big deal, but noticeable.
The price came in at a reasonable forty two bucks, that for three meals and two appetizers. the service was great, refills timely, the only exception being at the meal's end, it took a bit long to get the check.
I can't say enough how pleased I was that we'd been offered smaller portion options. This is huge in my book. I wish more places did this. I'm especially thinking of Italian places at this moment, where dishes are served with nearly a box of pasta per plate. I hope more places start offering this simple option. It will drive down costs and better serve a 'struggling to slim down' public much better. Also, the price was pared down as well. Offered on the menu at $9.99, we were only charged $6.49 for our catfish dinners. Bonus!
Oh yeah, a couple of more things.
1. The tea. Fresh but week, on par with Pizza Junction.
2. Suzy does indeed carry a checkbook. I told you so.

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1 comment:

  1. I haven't had catfish in years - I wonder what the carb count would be on the breading?

    And the roll your son liked? Looks like ciabatta to me. They've got the chewy crust and the soft middles...yum.