Saturday, February 20, 2010

Catfish anyone?

And now for your reading pleasure, a restaurant review. We recently spent the day in Kansas City. After walking miles and miles at the Western Farm Show, we made our way to the famous Bass Pro Shop. After walking miles and miles more, we moved on to our final and most anticipated destination of the day; JUMPIN’ CATFISH. Neither Greg or I had eaten anything all day long, so when we finished up at Bass Pro around 4:00, we were both more than ready to eat.

Jumpin’ Catfish is located in a newer strip mall just east of I-35 in Olathe. We pulled up, and not surprisingly, (due to the time) we scored a parking place right in front. Off to a good start in my book – did I mention we walked a lot that day? I was pleasantly surprised when we walked in the door. The restaurant was quite large, decorated much like a lodge. We were given the choice of a table or booth, and we chose a booth. Excellent decision; the booths are large enough for 6, which gave us plenty of room. Before we’d even had to chance to start looking at the menu, our waitress appeared with a bowl of creamy coleslaw, followed immediately by a bowl of ham and beans and basket of home made hushpuppies. The featured item on the menu, not surprisingly, is deep fried catfish. Options include 2 piece, 3 piece, or 4 piece dinners with mashed potatoes and gravy or french fries, but the best deal for the money is the all-you-can-eat meal. Not being a big fish fan, I was interested in their other options. The fried chicken dinner looked good; as did the chicken strip meal and the chicken fried steak and chicken fried chicken choices. Sensing a pattern here? Fried everything? There were 2 options for grilled chicken that were described as “light”, but neither of them sounded particularly good to me. There were also several seafood items, as well as a few wild game dishes. It just seemed wrong to come to a catfish joint and not eat catfish, and since I had read good reviews of this fish, most noticeably their claim that their catfish didn’t have a fishy taste, I decided to ask for a small sample. The waitress was more than happy to oblige me, and quickly brought a basket with 3 pieces of their fish nuggets, along with tarter sauce. The nuggets tasted good, and the decision was made. Even though I knew I would most likely not eat more than 2 pieces of fish, Greg pushed me to order the all-you-can-eat dinner, as he did. Rather than argue (or maybe to prove a point) I went ahead and ordered the more-than-I-could-ever-eat meal. He seemed pleased. I think he was just afraid I’d finish eating too soon; he was planning to, as he put it, “keep it coming”.

With our orders placed, we were now able to concentrate on the food before us. Greg dug right in to one of his favorite foods; the ham and beans. And although I really don’t like beans, thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I tried them. They weren’t too bad. If that was all I had to eat, I’d have been just fine. But with coleslaw and hushpuppies in front of me, I quickly pushed the beans back over to Greg, which made him very happy. Their coleslaw was made with a sweet creamy dressing, which is the way I prefer my coleslaw. It was actually very similar to the coleslaw at Long John Silvers. The hushpuppies were huge, and fried to a nice crispy finish. Both were delicious. After eating a serving of slaw and 2 hushpuppies (and 2 fish nuggets) I soon realized an all-you-can-eat dinner was a very very bad idea. Next thing you know, our waitress arrived with a platter with mashed potatoes and 5 fillets for each of us. After just a few bites, I knew I’d made a mistake ordering the fish. Don’t ask me how the nuggets could taste so much different than the fillets, but they did. I thought the tarter sauce would help, but unfortunately, their tarter sauce tasted awful. All I could taste was onion and dill pickle. I’ve always made tarter sauce with sweet pickle relish, and while I like onion, this was a little over the top. I decided to try using the slaw as a sauce, and it was a definite improvement. I was able to eat nearly 2 fillets, along with some of the mashed potatoes. I expected the potatoes would be “real”, but they had an instant taste to them. Over on the other side of the table, Greg was thoroughly enjoying everything, but he soon realized he would not be asking them to keep anything coming! While the menu states clearly that no doggy bags are allowed on all-you-can-eat meals, when the waitress saw my plate, she told me they did allow you to take anything left on your first plate. They also let us take home the beans, slaw and puppies that were still on the table. We delivered our leftovers to our friend Dave on the way home. He’s been telling Greg about Jumpin’ Catfish for some time now, so we knew he’d appreciate them.

Throughout our meal, our waitress was very attentive, refilling our drinks as needed, as well as keeping the side dishes filled. The owner also stopped by our table to check on things. The atmosphere was very relaxed and homey. The wait staff wore fishing jackets, and the owner was dressed in jeans, a flannel shirt, and a cap. I would imagine the lack of customers (there were 5 other diners while we were there) greatly contributed to the personal attention we received. Greg is already planning his next trip there, and I’d be happy to eat there again, only next time, I’m going with the chicken!

On a side note, for those of you reading this who know I am dieting, and are wondering how many pounds I gained after this meal..... this is not a restaurant for dieters. Since I hadn't eaten anything all day, I probably stayed within my points for the day. And when we go again, I'll most likely do the same.

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