Like fried seafood, but not the heads?
For those who are a little squeamish about such a seafood order, here’s an excellent alternative: Pike Street Fish Fry.
Check out the colorful blackboard to see what’s been swimming, and then step up to the counter to place your order. I had my heart set on whole smelts (yes, yes…I like fish heads, fish heads, roly poly fish heads, as Barnes & Barnes would sing), but they’re out of season, so I simply took the recommendation to try the catfish ($7, includes fries). My dining companion went for the calamari (also $7, with fries), and since that’s simply not enough fried food, we added frito misto ($6)—and then tossed in a side of slaw ($2) for freshness’ sake.
One more decision before you step back and await your order. Sauces. Four choices this particular day, and since each fried order comes with one sauce, we simply needed to eliminate one. Easy enough. Curry ketchup had to go, as it sounds like it’s having an identity crisis.
It was a good call on the catfish. Perfectly crisp on the outside, with the fish amazingly moist on the inside. A little tartar sauce added welcome tanginess. The calamari weren’t quite as revelatory, but tentacle-y and unoily (which of those is not a real word?), and fun to dip in chili mayo. Finishing the fried trio, the mixed vegetables were sensational. Solid bite and with a good, clean coating—tempura-like. We came for the fish and were unfocused on the veggies, so it turned out nicely that we didn’t have a favorite to order, and instead sampled the mixture.
The cups are a little deceiving. There’s not so much seafood, as the pieces hover over a lot of fries. (Three medium chunks of catfish in our cup.) But you don’t need much for a snack or even a dinner, and what we ordered had us crunching our way to cholesterol-filled (but fun) ecstasy.
And if you do like fish heads, spring means smelts will soon be in season, and you’ll be able to get ‘em whole at Pike Street Fish Fry. I’m looking forward to that. Eat them up…yum!