Friday, October 31, 2008
Let's talk about hot fish ...
Eastside Fish is the subject of a clever piece, penned by Jim Ridley, in this week's Nashville Scene. Here're the high points:
If it's fish you're wanting — not guppies you nibble with pinkie extended, not something you watch in a dentist's office, but sail-finned, steel-tailed monsters of the deep — take a ride to the East Side, where Bo Boatright wrestles the Deadliest Catch every day between two straining slices of Colonial Bread. Let us not mince words: You don't go to Bo's to find Nemo. At Eastside Fish, a.k.a. "The Crunkest Fish in Town," Bo offers what is bar none the biggest, baddest, best fish in Nashville. ...
"[T]o get a culinary sensation that lets you know you're nowhere but the Big Nasty, you need the hot fish sandwich: an indigenous behemoth of piled-high whiting or catfish planks, fried up crunchy brown with a cornmeal crust, then doused with pickle, yellow mustard and hot sauce until it cries for mama. And Eastside Fish has the champ, on any playing field you'd care to pick.
Toothpicks? Hell, you need railroad spikes to hold Bo's fish together. Serving size? The bad boys Bo serves are still laughing about the time they ate Robert Shaw. Flavor? That cornmeal breading is the taste of Sunday go-to-meetin's, of all-day fish fries at the fire hall, of whiskery old cats dancing on the end of a line. Tartar sauce is an insult. Lemon just makes it mad. True, you can't get a brew at Eastside — but beer just takes up valuable fish space in the Davy Jones' Locker of your gut.
And the price? Five bucks gets you the loaves and fishes that fed the multitudes. Eight bucks gets you a sandwich your grandkids will eat as a dowry. You can even frame the grease-stained paper sack on the wall—all the proof you'll ever need of the one that didn't get away.
I went to Eastside Fish about six weeks ago. I didn't blog about my experience because (a) my digital camera acted up, and (b) because I didn't quite like Eastside's fish as I like the fish served up at Ed's Fish House. That's not to say that Eastside is bad -- it definitely is not. It just ain't as good as Ed's.
Here's what I said about Ed's back in August (I hope Jim Ridley's reading):
Nashville, TN, is famous for many things: Country music, churches on every other corner, education (Vandy, Belmont, TSU, David Lipscomb, etc.), and numerous printing and publishing companies.
More importantly, however, Nashville is famous 'cause restaurateurs within its city limits created "hot chicken," which will be the subject of a future A Man's Gotta Eat post, and "hot fish" sandwiches, which'll be discussed, well, here:
What's a hot fish sandwich, you ask? It's cornmeal-breaded whiting fillets on white bread, with mustard, slices of white onion, pickles, and hot sauce. Sounds like an odd combo, I know, but a hot fish sandwich is just what the doctor ordered when a feller's hungry, indeed.
My favorite hot fish joint is Ed's Fish House in Priest Lake. Ed's does business out of a trailer in the Compton's Foodland parking lot (Smith Springs Road, 'bout a mile and a half south of Bell Road). Ed has been selling fried fish out of his little trailer for over 25 years. That says a lot about the quality of his food. ...
Ed's fish sandwiches are truly two-hand sandwiches. That is, you'll be using both hands from bite one until all you have left are crumbs. (I guess you could cut the sandwich half, or into quarters, but that's not really a manly thing to do.) The spicy cornmeal Ed uses gives the fish a terrific crunch, and he tops the fish with just enough "stuff" on top to enhance, rather than overpower, the crispy fish underneath.
If you've never had a hot fish sandwich, you can't go wrong by heading to Ed's Fish House for your first.
Ed's Fish House
2808 Smith Springs Road
Nashville, TN 37217