Under a few hundred live oaks, their mosses dragging the ground under a cool October sky, is the town of
While commercial chains like Cracker Barrel attempt to hone in on this down-home, rustic style of food preparation, no restaurant I have found comes close to the level of mastery, the cornucopia of ingredients, and the comfortable ambiance of Catfish Johnny’s in “
A typical Southern meal includes generous portions – no one is to leave the table hungry. At the end of the meal, third or fourth glasses of sweet tea are poured into Styrofoam cups, topped with lids, and sent home with each guest – a typical gesture of Southern hospitality.
An assortment of fried seafood is always available in the South, especially freshwater fish and reptiles. Catfish Johnny’s is no exception. A typical combination plate includes piles of gator nuggets, fried oysters and clams, fried catfish fingerlings, and, yes, fried frog legs, which I love. For the less adventurous Southern connoisseur, fried chicken, grouper filets, and butterflied fried shrimp are also available.
Vegetables get simple treatments, the preferred method of cooking being frying. A hot plate of fried okra is always on hand, ready to be smothered in Crystal Hot Sauce, straight from the plant in
Johnny is there, too. He’s always occupying the table in the corner of the restaurant. There’s only one corner, really. His table is guarded by at least five of his close friends and a petrified alligator head from a 12-footer that Johnny ‘wrassled’ in his yesteryear. His white beard, silver hair, and rosy, bespectacled cheeks make him the jocular personality you would expect from a man bearing a nickname like, “Catfish.”
Dine indoors or out under the live oaks, and Catfish Johnny’s will be an authentic