Dining & Drink

Return Of The Catfish

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Eat It: Phat’s Diner

Phat’s a good entry in holy quest

By Rachel Birdsell
TFW Contributing Writer

Phat’s Diner
687 N. Parrot Drive
Huntsville
738-1400

Preamble Ramble

It’s time for the Quest of the Holy Catfish, Part V.
You know how I tried to do a catfish review for Phat’s a couple of months ago, but they weren’t open? Well, this time I went back and not only were they open, but they were also thriving. I still have a couple of catfish restaurants on my quest list, but I need a few more, so if you know of one you think I should try, please let me know.

Food for Thought

I ordered the catfish dinner, which came with my choice of three sides. I opted for the hush puppies, onion strings and the baked beans.
The dinner came with three healthy-sized catfish fillets. The coating was crunchy and almost cracked when you bit through it. It reminded me of cracking through the top layer of creme brulee, only instead of custard underneath, there was catfish.
OK, maybe creme brulee was a bad analogy. The coating was thicker than most I’ve had and was seasoned well. The fish underneath it was very moist and tender.
The hush puppies were chock full o’ black pepper, which is good if you like black pepper. I do, so I liked them. They weren’t fantastic, but they were good.
I was disappointed with the onion strings. I expected them to be the super skinny fried onions, but instead these were just like straight onion rings. I realize that if they’re straight, they’re no longer a ring, but you know what I mean, right? Since I’m not a big fan of onion rings, most of them stayed on my plate.
The baked beans were out-of-this-world delicious. I wanted to lick the bowl when I was finished with them, but instead I just scraped it feverishly with my fork to get as much of the bean goodness that I could. The beans were thick, smoky and sweet. The best part was that they had generous chunks of that food of the gods we call bacon.

The Sporkcast

(1-5 sporks)

Atmosphere: 3.8 standard issue sporks. The decor at Phat’s is nouveau diner. There are booths, tables and a counter like old school diners, but everything is new there. It’s extremely clean and you could probably eat directly off the table should you be so inclined. Just don’t blame me if everyone in the place gives you the stink-eye for it.
Food: 4.2 crunchy sporks with a bacon-scented handle. If I was on a Quest for the Holy Baked Beans, I might have found it. However, this is a Holy Catfish quest, and while the catfish was good, it doesn’t get the Holy Catfish title.
Staff: 5 perfect forks with perfect tines and a perfect handle. I’m pretty sure this is the first “5” I’ve ever doled out. My server was perfect. She was friendly, not because it was her job to be friendly, but because she was a genuinely nice person.
Dollars spent: My lunch was roughly $10, which included a big glass of some pretty darn good sweet tea. Most of the offerings at Phat’s are around $6-8.
Chance of returning: I don’t know that I’d go back for the catfish, but I’d definitely go back for the baked beans. Plus, there are a lot of other things on the menu I’d like to try — like the fried pies.
So far, The Angler is still in first place for the Holy Catfish. Will they be able to hold on to their title? Will a yet-to-be-determined restaurant knock them out of their most holy position? Stay tuned for more catfish excitement.

If you know of a great eating place, drop me a line at rabirdsell@gmail.com. I’ll check it out and let you know what I think.

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