Soul Fish Café
862 S. Cooper
Open 7 days a week, 11:00am—10:00pm
Soul Fish is the new restaurant on Cooper that is in what used to be a small office or something. For weeks I drove past the small boxy building with the neon blue fish on the outside wondering to myself Why would someone open a restaurant with a blue fish on it when we already have a 'Blue Fish’ a few doors down and a ‘Blue Fin’ downtown? Not to mention, there’s now a chain in town called ‘Bone Fish.’ Insiders tell me that it was going to be called ‘The Flying Fish Café,’ but the Flying Saucer people actually have a very similar named restaurant coming to town.
I don’t get it.
Anyways…on my drive-bys I also noticed that the inside looked diner-esque and fairly child-friendly. I was ready to go on opening night, but Warren advised waiting a week or two while they worked out the kinks. A co-worker went one night and reported that her food was “so-so” and that the person next to her turned his in for a refund.
But I was not deterred.
Warren and I decided to take the monkeys (satchel, almost 4, and Jiro, almost 2) to Soul Fish for lunch after skating school. Both boys were absolutely starving which is always a good thing when trying something new—they tend to focus on the food rather than focusing on things to destroy.
The restaurant was pretty empty—maybe two out of ten tables were full, one out of five booths, and three out of six barstools. At the booth was a young couple with a toddler, which I took as a good sign. We sat in the booth next to them and Satchel immediately began trying to recruit the youngster into the monkey wrench gang.
The waitress came right over to take our drink order and handed us menus. The menu is pretty basic. I would sum it up as “catfish and chicken in various forms.” There are a variety of salads, po-boys, sides, entrees, and desserts. The children’s menu offers a cat basket, chicken tenders (of course), grilled cheese, PB&J, and a ham ‘n cheese—all served with fries, and all for $3.95. I went with the catfish po-boy, Satchel wanted a grilled cheese, and we ordered a cat basket for Jiro. Warren, who had really wanted to go to the BBQ Shop, ordered the Memphis po boy which was smoked pork tenderloin, bacon, coleslaw, and BBQ sauce. (You heard me—pork tenderloin and bacon!)
When I got up to take the kids to wash their hands, I noticed a big chalkboard with the “vegetables of the day.” They had steamed broccoli, black-eyed, peas, and zucchini. Impressed, I asked the waitress to add some broccoli and black-eyed peas to our order.
The bathroom was a one-seater, which allowed me to keep an eye on the boys while I relieved myself. I sat helplessly as Satchel opened the door for all of the world to see me with my pants down and as Jiro methodically tried to open the emergency exit. By the time I flushed they had both escaped.
When we all made it back to the table, the waitress had brought our drinks and a pile of crackers and butter. The boys lunged from either side of the table in an attempt to keep the other one from having any. The waitress brought more (I’m guessing she was a mom) and Warren and I methodically buttered the crackers and made little sandwiches which kept the boys calm while we waited for our food. Buttering the crackers reminded me of eating with my mom in New Orleans—she always buttered crackers for us while we waited for our vegetable soup at the College Inn.
As I buttered, I looked around the place. It seemed like it was missing something. Music! It was so quiet in there it was kind of weird. I strained my ears and I could hear some music coming from the kitchen, but it clearly was just for the cooks. I mentioned it to the waitress and she said they were still working out the details. The décor is nice as is, but a little sparse. A few more details would certainly make the place feel homier—which considering the boxiness of the building—would be a good thing.
Our food arrived before we finished all of the crackers and it looked great. The broccoli was bright green and sprinkled with cheese and was gone in about 2 seconds. I put some balck-eyed peas on a plate for Satchel and he said, “Mmm…yummy!” The fried fare was crisp, not greasy. I thought my catfish po-boy was great and Warren didn’t leave a crumb on his plate, so I am assuming that his double pork delight was just as tasty. When our feeding frenzy was over, the only thing left was the grilled cheese sandwich. It clearly couldn’t compete with all of the other goodies.
The waitress came and asked if we saved room for dessert—specifically a root beer float—and I really wished we had.