- 2280 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY
- (502) 632-2583
- Overall User Rating:
- (1 rating)
- Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday, noon-11 p.m.; Sunday, noon-9 p.m.
I’ve never been able to confirm it from an authoritative source, but ever since I was a lad — long before sashimi and sushi appeared on the local landscape — I’ve heard that Louisville consumes more fish per capita than any other inland city in the United States.
Some sources attribute this to the city’s Catholic population, “meatless Fridays” and the popularity of Lenten fish fries. Some attribute it to the enormous popularity of restaurants like Mike Linnig’s Restaurant, KingFish, Moby Dick and great neighborhood spots that collectively fry up hundreds of thousands of pounds of whitefish each and every year.
Whatever the reason, Louisvillians do love their fish — especially their fried fish. And perhaps because so many hundreds of Louisvillians serve as volunteers at church fish fries, they tend to approach the subject with partisan fervor — as I have learned from the barrage of withering emails that tend to come my way every time I write on the subject.
Nevertheless, I think even the most partisan fish fanatics will like the Fish-Fry House, which opened recently in the space that previously housed Blue Lagoon. The space, which once housed a Diamond filling station, was the subject of a clever renovation in 2005. The tile facade of the old filling station was preserved, an old service bay was adapted as a bar/counter, and a tall, slanted roof turned the former pump space into an attractively appointed dining room.
Apart from a few articles of maritime kitsch, owner Shahram Pouranfar has kept the space intact. Orders are placed at the counter (a process that in these early weeks has seemed slow and inefficient), and then delivered all at once to the table. It’s a process that’s pretty typical of casual fish joints — but feels strangely at odds with the trappings of a room with an upscale-casual feel.
As for the food, Pouranfar is no stranger to the art of frying. Since 1997, he’s been selling some of the city’s best fish at Fishery Station in Okolona. And every fried item I’ve tasted at the Fish-Fry House has been flawless.
Cornmeal — flecked with dainty specks of green herbs — is the default coating here. And everything from onion rings ($3.50) to alligator tail ($9.25) arrives at the table with a deep golden color, a firm crunch and nary a visible trace of residual oil. And this is crust that adheres to every morsel as if it were welded to the surface.
The menu draws heavily from the coastal canon. Platters, priced with sides, include oysters ($12.95), shrimp ($11.75) and salmon croquettes ($10.25), as well as chicken strips ($9.75) and a fried chicken breast ($11.50).
The fried scrod is impeccable. Big, snow-white slabs of impeccably white fish are firm and moist, and have a clean, fresh flavor that’s nicely accented by the house-made tartar sauce (or a drizzle of malt vinegar). The sandwich is $6.50 ($9.50 with two sides); a platter costs $11.75; a box for two is $16.50; and a family fish box (six pieces of fish, fries and hushpuppies) runs $31.25. Baked scrod is also on offer ($6.50/$12.50).
The menu offers a few novel twists: A basket of crisp, hand-breaded fried chicken livers ($9.50) can be had straight up or “Mediterranean-style” (a generous dose of gently seasoned sauteed onions and tomatoes. Some diners will like the saucy onions and tomatoes, but for me chicken livers are comfort food — and I take my comforts plain.
Variations on the scrod sandwich include the addition of avocado, or a hybrid fusion of fish sandwich and BLT. Side orders ($2.50-$3.50 ordered alone, but included with many offerings) include not only fries, hushpuppies and onion rings, but also a simple, perfectly executed bowl of basmati dill rice.
And the appetizer list includes not only hand-breaded frog’s legs ($9.50), but fried cubes of mako shark ($9.25) and remarkably tender pieces of alligator tail served with a piquant Thai sauce ($9.25).
Beverage offerings include full bar service, draft and bottled beer, a list of affordably priced wines, and aromatic Persian hot tea.
Contact freelance restaurant critic Marty Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org.