Warren had to make a trip out to the Knight Arnold library this afternoon. He returned home with a dinner suggestion: The Fish Net on Lamar. I'd never seen or heard of it, so I was immediately interested. He read me a brief online review and based on no evidence, I got it in my head that it was going to to be an unknown cajun jewel. I could already taste the gumbo.
I loved the sign from the get go. And the other hand painted signs along the side. (The restaurant wraps around into a fish market, and the building has a very "was this once a motel?" feel to it.)
We arrived at about 6:30, starved, and totally out of our element.
Inside there was a long counter with several near empty steam tables and in the dining room there were several large tables covered with red and white checked tablecloths. There were four other people in the restaurant--a couple and two cops. We stood around for a minute trying to figure out if we should order from the steam table, the menu on the wall, or sit at a table. I could see a cash register and a cashier at the end of the counter, but the cashier was on the phone and not interested in us. Finally another woman came over from behind the counter and said if we wanted something off of the steam table she could get it, otherwise we should order at the register.
Warren and I were feeling like super dorks. The kids were being super hyper because of a nearby Pac Man machine and super whiney because of their lack of quarters. Through a series of whispers, grunts, and threats we came up with what we wanted to order. (Thankfully they were out of the monkeys' first choice--corn dogs.) I sent the menfolk to a table while I placed our order: a catfish filet dinner, a butterfly shrimp dinner, a 4 piece wing dinner, some fried green tomatoes, a side of greens, an orange soda, a lemonade, and two waters. Our grand total was $30.
After paying, I requested some quarters and sent the monkeys off to play Pac Man. Warren offered them some tips.
The speed on the game was super fast so Satchel (8) had a hard time playing. Jiro (6), after watching Satchel die repeatedly and quickly, opted to save his quarters. They came back to the table and commenced fighting over the only drink we had secured--the orange soda.
Warren tuned them out in favor of his phone. Once they stopped bickering over the drink, they started bickering over quarters.
Soon Warren couldn't ignore the bickering and got all "Mr. Oster" on them, which means he put on his mean student teacher voice. That reminded him of the note he had in his pocket from one of his students.
I asked him what he did to get in trouble and he said that his teacher yelled at the students for not behaving during his observation the day before. The note was actually from one of the better students who felt guilty. (He didn't actually get in trouble, but his observer noted that the class was a little rowdy.)
The cashier soon notified us that our food, or some of our food at least, was ready. Satchel and Jiro bickered over the shrimp while I desperately tried to take a good picture. (It was technically Jiro's dinner.)
It was very clear to me that there was going to be nothing healthy or low calorie about this meal.
Warren said the greens were awesome and spicy. (I resisted taking a picture of the giant chunk of fat they were cooked with!) I had a tiny taste of the tomatoes and they were tart and delicious.
Next up was the catfish that Warren and I planned to split.
It looked and tasted great. "Can I have some of that?" Satchel asked sweetly. I gave him half of my filet, which was near perfect, especially with a splash of hot sauce. I bit into a fry only to discover that it was cold. Boo. They clearly made the fish to order, but the fries had been under a heat lamp for who knows how long. (I didn't dare dip into the slaw or tartar sauce. The two slices of white bread went untouched until Warren decided to make a sandwich with Jiro's leftover shrimp.)
Last up were the wings.
Aren't they pretty?
And I gotta say, they tasted even better than they looked. Oh. My. God. Yum! (While we were eating there were lots and lots of people coming in for to go orders. I have a feeling all of the styrofoam boxes that made their way out the door were filled with catfish and hot wings!)
Satchel had a really hard time eating the wings because they were hot and a little had to pull apart and he didn't want to get his hands greasy.
They are definitely 5+ napkin wings even without any sauce! While he was struggling along, Jiro decided to put his leftover quarters to use in the candy machines by the door. He returned to the table with a small pile of Hot Tamales.
I remarked that they looked pretty old and stale, but he insisted that they were good. Then Warren told us a story of his friend, Steve, who once got a small mouse out of an old peanut vending machine. Ew!
When Satchel finally finished, the boys and I made a fieldtrip to the bathrooms to wash our hands. The bathrooms were small, but clean, and also had a motel feel to them. I really liked the sign over the toilet.
(I had to explain to Warren the scenario in which a "lady" might "sprinkle" when she tinkles.)
I also liked that there was a Pepcid machine outside the restrooms.
Overall I'd say that if you are in the mood for fried food, The Fish Net is the place for you. It's casual and friendly, and perfectly fine for kids. I have a feeling that they are really hopping at lunch time.