Monday, March 10, 2014

Three Georgetown Restaurants…

dominate the top three spots (although their ranking may vary from year to year) in the “Peoples’ Choice” voting—Monument Café which we have visited, Wildfire which we plan to visit some day in the future, and Dos Salsas which we plan to visit for lunch today. But there is one problem, neither of us are in the mood for Mexican—or Tex-Mex to be more precise—food. Time for a new plan.

So we find ourselves out in The Big White Truck in need of food and without the address of a fall-back place. Then I remember a restaurant—Catfish Parlour—that we had driven past a few days earlier and one that had a packed parking lot. To me, that is always a positive sign. So fried catfish it would be.
“The owners of Catfish Parlour like to keep the business in the family. Almost 35 years after opening the doors on the restaurant’s Northwest Austin location in 1973, Chris Kerbow brought his family’s home-style catfish restaurant to Georgetown….

“His father, David Kerbow, started the family-run chain of restaurants after working for many years at the Holiday House in Austin. He started his career at age 15, learning the business from the ground up before becoming general manager and eventually leaving to start his own business…

”While working as a high-tech corporations manager, Chris attended business school and decided to start and run his own business. After playing around with a few ideas, he decided the family business was the right direction. He opened his location on Williams Drive in February 2008. The restaurant…draws most of its diners from Georgetown, including many from Sun City just up the road…” (Idan Englander at impactnews.com).
We walked into the very large restaurant and immediately saw signs pointing to the left for the “Express Lunch.” We must have looked confused because a very nice server approached and asked if this was our first time. When we replied in the affirmative, she walked us through the ordering process which was part buffet, part cafeteria, and part table service.
The buffet has three areas. The first contains salads—Caesar salad and cole slaw. The second contains fried items—fries, hush puppies, and the fried item of the day which was fried yellow squash. The third contains hot items—mac & cheese, string beans, pinto beans, steamed cabbage with bacon, and the day’s specials of spinach and black eyed peas.

If you are in a hurry, you order the catfish, which is directly served to you at the counter.
If you want chicken fried steak, chicken fried chicken, oysters, or fried shrimp, you place your order at the same counter and these items will be brought to you by a server.

You can see why we needed help.
Food in hand, we found a table and while eating, perused the multitude of items decorating the restaurant.
“When Chris Kerbow describes his restaurant’s décor, he uses the term ‘garage sale Americana.’
Collected over a two year time period from antique stores, swap meets, estate sales and a network of collectors, the restaurant’s walls are lined with items including old advertisements and knickknacks” (Idan Englander at impactnews.com).

Just over Chuck’s head was the sign for Schlitz beer.
Has anyone outside of the Midwest ever heard of Schlitz. In addition to the one shown here, Schlitz was advertised with the slogan "When you're out of Schlitz, you're out of beer".

Next to our booth was an advertising poster for the Ralphie’s Christmas wish—the Red Ryder Daisy BB gun,
and behind Chuck sat a replica of the Leg Lamp.
I was therefore inspired to entertain Chuck with some of my favorite lines from A Christmas Story. Lines like: “…you'll shoot your eye out.” and “Next to me in the blackness lay my oiled blue steel beauty. The greatest Christmas gift I had ever received, or would ever receive. Gradually, I drifted off to sleep, pranging ducks on the wing and getting off spectacular hip shots.” And my favorite about the leg lamp: “Only one thing in the world could've dragged me away from the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window.” (Wait! Are you saying you weren’t entertained?)

Both of our food plates bore a remarkable resemblance. Here is mine.
And here is Chuck’s.
We both ordered the medium order of catfish containing five cornmeal crusted fillets. We both chose mac & cheese and cole slaw for sides. He took the French fries while I took hush puppies and fried squash.

And we each added two fresh Gulf shrimp to our meals. The fried for me and the blackened for Chuck. Mine were good, but Chuck’s were excellent with a blackening that didn’t taste burned or overpower the shrimp.
Everything, except for the hush puppies which were dry and heavy, was really very good. The catfish fillets were thin, and somehow the kitchen managed to not overcook them. (Having read reviews for another local catfish house, I have the sense that thin fillets are the norm in these parts.) But what really impressed both of us was the cole slaw.

This slaw was made with very finely sliced green cabbage with some almost shaved green bell pepper and onion and dressing was non-dairy and was neither overly sweet nor overly tart. When I praised the slaw to one of the employees, he told me that this was made with an old German recipe, so upon returning home, I promptly Googled German cole slaw recipies. But all of those I found called for equal amounts of oil, vinegar, and sugar and didn’t seem to be a match to Catfish Parlour’s. Someday I may need to experiment.

All in all, a good and reasonably priced lunch, and one that earns 4.0 Addies.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.