One TV in the corner was soundlessly playing a Nascar race and a few other patrons cycled through the sturdy wood booths. Many were regulars who our server greeted by name and caught up with between delivering plates and refilling drinks. The menus were tri-folded laminated numbers with ads for local businesses and the daily specials taped in on a sheet of printer paper.
We were greeted, our drink orders taken and quickly delivered while we perused the menu. I was eyeing the small filet catfish plate and when our server recommended it, my mind was made up. Given the choices of fries, baked potato, sweet potato, and potato wedges, I selected the fries. My hubby opted for the club sandwich and, when he appeared undecided on sides, our server helpfully noted that none were included with his sandwich but that my filet would come with enough fries to share.
Our food came up quickly and our server had been right on the money. My filet was large (the picture up top is deceiving because the fillet is jutting upward at an angle, it was about a third again as wide as it looks there) and the heaping pile of fries was plenty to split.
The fries themselves were piping hot with a tendor interior, a slightly crunchy exterior and no seasoning. Sprinkled with a little table salt however, they were just about perfect.
The hushpuppies were distinct from any others I have encountered. Nearly perfect orbs requiring several bites each, they had a crunchy exterior and an interior studded with bits of onion. They were surprisingly flavorful and tasty.
The catfish was enveloped in my favorite style of breading–a thin, dry crust made almost entirely of seasoning, no actual bread in sight. The catfish itself was tender, with that slightly fishy taste that catfish always seems to have. The tartar sauce brought out with my plate was smooth and very mild. The flavors of the fish, breading, and tartar sauce worked wonderfully together, collaborating instead of competing for attention.
The coleslaw was addictively tasty. The cabbage and carrots were chopped finely, but not minced so small as to create an unpleasant texture. The sauce was mayonnaise based with a touch of sweetness, just watery enough to be light and refreshing. The entire thing was topped with hearty slices of onion, though I did not sample them, instead treating them as garnish.
The fare at Libby’s is straight forward and uncomplicated but well executed. The catfish is a signature dish and it is as excellent as something on the signboard should be. However, the side items also shone and the sandwich was reasonable. I expect you will always be better off with a signature plate/item but if that is what you want, you will be hard pressed to find better. The service was prompt and friendly even on a somewhat lazy Saturday. Not only will we be back, but this is will be new favorite spot for guests who want to sample some southern classics.
Total for the meal: $20.40 (includes one sandwich, one small fillet plate, and two drinks)
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