105 South Second St.
I often walk down to the Flying Fish for lunch. I’m a big fan of their fish tacos and have been impressed with their healthy grilled kebobs and vegetables. It’s a very casual place (you order at the window and seat yourself) with a fun atmosphere (i.e. the Billy Bass adoption center on the wall). They have a sign that reads: “All unattended children will receive free puppies and espressos” which says to me they are child-friendly, but not tolerant of children gone wild. I can dig that.
I figured Warren would also like the food, so on a recent Wednesday night when he suggested we go out for dinner, I boldly suggested the Flying Fish. Sensing he might be too tired for a dining experience outside of midtown, I said, “We can ride the trolley afterwards.” (As much as the monkeys--Satchel, 5, and Jiro, 3--like to ride the trolley, Warren likes it even more.)
We picked up the monkeys from school and headed downtown around six. Parking was no problem since my office is walking distance to the restaurant. The three block walk was actually kind of nice—it allowed the monkeys to get some of their ya-yas out on the street. The male members of Team Oster were also quite pleased to see the hordes of bikers descending on Beale Street for the weekly “Bike Night.”
The Flying Fish was pretty busy—turns out Wednesday night is “All You Can Eat Catfish” night. There were lots and lots of families eating there which was nice to see. (“Look at all of these people embracing downtown!” I thought to myself.)
I already knew that I wanted the fish tacos, so I helped Warren and the boys decide on their orders. Warren seemed overwhelmed by the choices so I recommended that he get an oyster po-boy. (I don’t like oysters but my co-workers are big fans of this particular sandwich.) The kids menu offered several kids “boats” featuring fried shrimp, catfish, chicken nuggets, and hamburgers. The boats also included fries, animal crackers, and a drink for $3.99.
I was a little disappointed in the kids’ offerings since the Flying Fish has a lot of healthy choices on its main menu. I wished that I had brought the take out menu I have at my office in the car with me so that I could have spent a few minutes finding something nutritious for the boys to eat and given Warren the opportunity to take in all of the options.
But I didn’t.
In an effort to keep things moving, I ordered Satchel the kid’s boat with fried shrimp and Jiro the kid’s boat with catfish.
After he paid up ($26.38 total without tip), I sent Warren and Satchel to look for a table in the front room while Jiro and I got drinks. Satchel was thrilled that he got to hold the “beeper” that would alert us when our food was ready and excitedly asked a bazillion questions about it. Jiro was not nearly as excited by the drink machine as he usually is. I think there was too much going on for him to focus on it. He did however immediately zone in on the big plastic container of crackers. I was happy to see a stack of coloring mats and crayons. By the time I had the drinks, crackers, ketchup, and coloring supplies gathered, I couldn’t open the screen door leading to the porch. Luckily Jiro helped me. I was psyched to see that Warren and Satchel scored a booth right by the open air window in front. I was not so psyched to see that Warren had already grabbed some coloring mats and crayons as well as ketchup and that there was already a very hearty supply of crackers on the table.
The kids kept busy eating crackers, coloring, looking out the window, touching the orphaned Billy Basses above their heads, and pointing out various things hanging from the ceiling. “I have that bait!” Satchel squealed as he pointed to a giant hook suspended above him.
I was just about to take Jiro on a pre-emptive bathroom run when our blinker went off. I went to get our food, which was too much for me to carry, and was quickly offered assistance by one of the guys behind the counter. As we walked back to the table, I jealously eyed a platter of crawfish at a nearby booth.
The kids were thrilled by the presentation of their food—it was actually in a paper boat. “Can we take this in the tub?” Satchel asked before biting into his shrimp. “Mmmm…taste my shrimp! It tastes like chocolate,” he said. This turned out to be a ploy to get me to eat his shrimp so he wouldn’t have to.
Jiro looked in his boat, grabbed the catfish filet, and threw it on the table. “I don’t want that,” he said.
Ditto on the hushpuppies.
Then he said he needed to go potty.
The bathroom was very clean with a changing table in the handicapped stall—a feature I like very much. (I was tempted to ask Warren to see if the men’s room had a changing table, but didn’t.) The bathroom also had lots of pictures of kids fishing which Jiro liked a lot.
When we returned, I was finally able to eat. My fish tacos were yummy as always. I tried to offer one to Warren, but he was busy devouring his oyster po-boy. About five minutes after my offer expired, he looked over, ready to take me up on it and asked, “Where did they go?”
“I ate them!”
I offered him some of my beans and rice, which he accepted. Had I not dumped my pico de gallo all over them, I might have been able to get the kids to eat some.
The highlight of the meal seemed to be the Fortune Teller Fish that came in the kids’ meals. Apparently holding the small cellophane fish in your hand can tell you something about yourself. We made the mistake of telling the monkeys they could do it after they were done eating. This translated into both of them declaring that they were full despite having eaten very little. Basically the two of them ended up eating about half of their French fries, some crackers, some animal crackers, and lemonade.
Anyways, Satchel’s fish indicated that he was “passionate.”
“What does that mean?” he asked.
“You are going to be a lover boy,” Warren explained.
“Ew,” he replied.
“Have you seen my baseball?” Jiro asked with a big giggle.
“Have you seen my baseball?” Satchel retorted as they both burst out laughing.
(Warren let them watch “There’s Something about Mary a few weekends ago.)
That was my cue that it was time to leave. We loaded up our belongings, the paper boats, the remnants of the animal crackers, and our drinks that conveniently came in "to go" cups. We walked two blocks to the trolley stop and almost didn’t get on the first trolley because it was teeming with families.
Finally, I got a little suspicious.
“Why are there so many families downtown?” I asked myself as I looked around. The closer I looked, the less the people looked like locals. “There must be a convention.”
Sure enough when the trolley pulled up next to the convention center almost everyone got off. A big blue and white banner hung from the building. It read: Presbyterians Today. (Or was it Presbyterians Tomorrow?)