By Robin Garr
When the Fish-Fry House opened in the Highlands last year, it generated a lot of excitement among local fried-fish lovers (who, of course, are legion), but not entirely for the right reasons.
People emailed, they called, they stopped me on the street to pronounce the good news: â€œThe Fishery has opened a branch in the Highlands!â€
Actually, not so much. In fact, when this purveyor of fried fish and other fried things changed its name from Blue Lagoon about a year ago, it hoisted a logo that looks an awful lot like The Fisheryâ€™s: Same fat serif font, same big F at the start and big Y at the end; the only difference is a little â€œ-fâ€ replacing The Fisheryâ€™s little â€œeâ€ in the middle of the word. Drive out Bardstown Road just past Kroger and check it out. Chances are it will fool you, too.
In fact, the tenuous connection reportedly goes back to an old franchise agreement for a different location. The similar sign was not exactly welcomed by the original Fishery folks, or so Iâ€™m told.
But the argument has apparently abated, as the sign still stands. Live and let live. It takes plenty of fish to satisfy all the fish lovers in this fish-happy town, anyway, and that goes double when itâ€™s Lent, the season when a lot of believers, in the spirit of sacrifice, switch over from delicious red meat to delicious fried white fish during the 40 days before Easter.
You donâ€™t have to believe a thing beyond â€œI believe Iâ€™ll have me a fish sandwichâ€ to enjoy the goodies here, though; and Iâ€™ll testify that Shahram Pouranfour (who also operates Sharomâ€™s Fishery Station on Outer Loop) is a master of breading and frying. In a recent visit, we didnâ€™t taste a fried item that wasnâ€™t crisp, golden-brown and delicious. The offbeat venue only adds to Fish-Fryâ€™s curb appeal: Itâ€™s located in the â€™20s-era gasoline service station that was lovingly renovated for restaurant use by the late, lamented Diamond Station.
The menu, as noted, depends substantially on frying, with fried Boston scrod, chicken, shrimp, chicken livers, oysters, salmon croquettes; even fried alligator tail and fried shark bites, along with a few tasty non-fried items such as oven-baked scrod, on a family-friendly menu topping out at $12.95 (for a fried oyster platter with choice of two sides). The bar is currently shut down, a sign on the door announcing that wine, beer and liquor wonâ€™t be available â€œuntil further notice.â€
We made do with iced tea and filled up on a well-made fried scrod on rye ($6.50), an oversized rolled oyster ($5.75) that resembled a giant hush puppy with tiny fresh oysters baked in, and sides of outstanding fried green tomatoes, standard-issue green beans and, reflecting Pouranfourâ€™s Persian heritage, Iranian-style dilled rice.
Our fried lunch for two, filling enough to set aside any plans for a serious dinner that evening, came to $27.78, plus a $6 tip.
2280 Bardstown Road
Many Roman Catholic churches offer community fried fish dinners on Fridays during Lent, with weekly dinners in most cases continuing through the last Friday before Good Friday (March 22 this year). For a listing of more than 60 in the Archdiocese of Louisville, visit www.archlou.org/parishes/picnics-festivals/ and click on the link for Parish Fish Fries. If youâ€™d like your Lent Episcopal style, St. Lukeâ€™s in Anchorage (1206 Maple Lane, www.stlukesanchorage.org) and St. Markâ€™s in Crescent Hill (2822 Frankfort Ave., www.stmlky.org) also have noteworthy Friday fish fries.