Reader Chris suggested that the hubby and I check out CJ’s Steak and Seafood. So when we were out looking for a Saturday night dinner, we headed down that way. About 20 minutes south of Huntsville, it’s perfect for those times when you want to drive down a pretty road, surrounded by trees, and feel very far away from “the city”, without going very far at all.
We were the first of the dinner crowd to arrive and were seated immediately. Our server was gracious and remarkably kind. She quickly had us settled with menus and a small bowl of hushpuppies. We put in our drink orders and sampled the treats as we pondered the menu.
The hush puppies (shown at the top of this post) were large with a golden exterior and a doughy interior. The pieces of sweet onion studding the interior were delightful and despite being served at room temperature, they were still delicious. (This is a key bellwether for me in dealing with hushpuppies. If they are only good piping hot, they are no good at all.)
Our drinks came up as we were pondering the menu–they were canned sodas, but our server promised unlimited refills if we would just place our drinks near the edge of the table to let her know we were low. We happily agreed and, finally decided, placed our order. Two 2 piece catfish plates, one with fries, for me, and one with curly fries, for the hubby. The menu listed the option of adding a salad bar, though we declined.
We chatted as our food cooked and took in the nautical decor. Soothing blue walls were adorned with boats and oats. A hand painted mural featured a charming red, white, and brown boat. Netting, draped in two different locations, was sprinkled with shells and starfish. The blue and white checked plastic table cloths coordinated nicely and a white board behind us listed the available desserts including, I noted, turtle pie.
Our food came up in short order–that nicely balanced pause where you are equally confident that the kitchen has not lost your order and that real cooking is occurring. The plates were breathtakingly large, dwarfing our fillets, which were each larger than my hand.
The catfish was amazing. Moist and flaky, without a whisper of fishiness, and wrapped in a crunchy corn meal coating. It was delicious even without my beloved tartar sauce. Which was for the best as the tartar sauce mostly mayo, though there were small bits of relish. Two more hushpuppies were included on my plate, and these were both piping hot and delicious. The fries were a bit disappointing, unseasoned and pale, I strongly suspected them of being frozen.
The hubby was equally impressed with the catfish. His curly fries had the innate advantage of color, but again, I suspected then of being frozen.
The slice was as generous as our dinner had been, our single slice was a full 1/6th of a pie. The crust sported the characteristic crumbly coarse texture and dark color of a chocolate graham cracker crust. The filling was dreamily thick and dotted with caramel. Ribbons of chocolate topped the pie, along with a smattering of walnuts and thick chocolate shavings. Small poofs of airy whipped cream decorated the edge. In short, it was delicious.
CJ’s is a little off the beaten path but is well worth the short drive. The catfish is outstanding and the service spot on. True to our server’s word, she noticed immediately when we moved our cups to the table edge and returned with additional cans. The turtle pie was lovely, the cream filling having a body to it that comes with being made from scratch (no cool whip here). My only disappointment was in the fries, but when we return I’ll simply opt for something more likely to be housemade–the coleslaw perhaps.
Total for the meal: $30.66 (includes two 2 fillet catfish plates, 2 soft drinks, and one slice of turtle pie)