Introducing Top Fish

During Lent, the Fork You Crew will be doing our darndest to find the Top Fish Sandwich in Charleston.  We will post a short review each Thursday of a local fish sandwich.  Each sandwich will be judged using a strict set of criteria.  We will post each reviewer’s score, along with an overall score.

To get things started, here are excerpts of fish sandwiches from past reviews.  Click on the restaurant name to go to the full post. 

Griff’s – by Susan

I’ve never received stellar service here, and today is no exception. But I chalked it up to being a bar and the patrons’ desires to relax and drink, and that made the slow service acceptable. But this visit is lunchtime on a weekday.

We ordered right away, but it took 30 minutes to get our food.  And then we had to endure the agonizing wait to get the checks.  If we’d had a bucket of beer on the table, no one would have complained. Note to servers:  when there is NO bucket of beer, your customers appreciate quicker service.

My fish sandwich was fantastic though.

I really like this one at Griff’s and I’ve eaten a lot of fish sandwiches around the area. The cod was a nice thickness, boasted a flaky texture and the breading was crumby, golden brown and crisp. The bread for this sammie is a toasted sub-style bun which is the perfect bread to fish ratio. Even though I cut off a chunk for Daniel to try, there was plenty of sandwich to fill me up. 

The Grill – by Daniel

Fish Sandwich The Grill Charleston WV

I settled on the fish sandwich with lettuce, tarter sauce and cheese. Now I have never caught a fish with cheese, but a slice of American cheese does goes well with a batter fried fish sandwich. The bun was fresh, the fish was hot and the tarter sauce was DELICIOUS. It was sweet and tangy with a yellow tint making me think there was some mustard in play. Tarter sauce is in the Mayo family so Susan won’t go near it and Stanton said he didn’t eat it either. Sounds like they might have something in common. I got a side of fries, too. They were OK, but I think their oil might have been a tad too hot. They were slightly, but not badly overcooked.

Mayberrys – by Susan

I ordered a fish sandwich and onion rings for $5.25 and $1.89, respectively.  The fish was fairly large with a bread crumb style breading that was good and crispy.  It was placed on a toasted sesame seed bun.  With the small order of onion rings, I guess you get 6 rings.  I felt a little ripped off on that.  But rarely do you order rings and feel like you got a decent portion.   They were beer-battered and crispy.  I really liked the flavor.  They were eerily similar to the Farm Rich frozen onion rings we buy at Sam’s for tailgating.  Seriously, though – do you think Mayberry’s makes any of the fried dishes from scratch???  I would really doubt that.  They met the expectations I had for their type of restaurant.

Riverside Anchor – by Susan

Due to lofty claims on their website and my inherent love of the fish sandwich, I had mostly made up my mind beforehand to order the King Fish Sandwich.  I was tempted by the pizza, especially when I learned from our server (I think he was the owner or manager disguised as a server) informed us of the availability of a personal-sized pizza for lunch.  I stuck to my guns and ordered the fish with fries.  And we got a tomato pie as well.  Instantly, our server was suspicious.  He asked me if I was hungry when I gave him my order.  I responded with: “I am a lover of fish sandwiches”.  Thankfully Daniel told him we’d be taking some of our food home with us – that seemed to relieve him.

The food arrived.  My King Fish was large as promised.  It measured approximately twelve inches in length and hung over the edges of the buttered, toasted sub bun.  The lettuce was romaine, a definite upgrade from the iceberg I expected to receive.  There was a decent portion of deep-fried frozen crinkle-cut fries.  They were crispy and very hot.  The fish was also fresh out of the oil.  It was super crispy and the batter was fried to a perfect golden brown.  I really enjoyed the fish sandwich which I cut in half so I could save part for later.  I liked the frozen fries better than Daniel’s homemade chips.  I felt the chips were too thin and not crispy and fresh enough.  For $7.50, I was pleased with the meal.

King Fish Sandwich and fries $7.50

Is the King Fish really the biggest fish sandwich on the east coast?  No.  Refresh your memory of my CJ Maggie’s review.  Each of the three hand-breaded fillets at CJ’s were slightly smaller than this 12″ haddock, but I got THREE OF THEM.  I couldn’t get them all to fit between the bun halves.  Another important aspect to me is that the Anchor’s fillet came already battered from the supplier.  Hell, I could throw that thing in a deep fryer and get the same result.  If I had a deep fryer large enough, that is.

Tricky Fish – by Ron

Look at that blurry sandwich.  Two Small Pieces of Fish.  A tomato… A Lettuce –  LEAF – not only is Keely a vegitarian, but it seems she’s a skimpy one at that! (OK that’s my opinion and my views are not totally supported by Fork You and the “Five”)   I think that long vanilla looking thing is my knife.   All on a Bun that reminds me of Sara Lee.   Oh yeah served in a plastic basket… you know those kind you’d get at the Tastee Freeze…..  (Sorry as I break into a little John Mellencamp or back then I think it was John Cougar).

Make’s you wonder what John Cougar would have written if he saw that Pickle on a Stick!….  Somehow I don’t think a shriveled pickle was what he was thinking when he wrote “Dance Naked”.   (Look Closely at the sandwich, you can view the shriveled up sweet pickle skewered with a stick)  It’s “low brow” for a classy price. IMHO

I digress….

The sandwich and the bag of chips… was $6.50.     I got water.   The chips are supposedly organically grown in dirt on some organic farm that plants potatoes… and they tasted like it.  

As my editor is looking over my shoulder, she asks..”you didn’t like it, you ate two bags!?”  Well the sandwich would feed a half a child.. so I ate two bags of chips to satisfy my hunger.  The carb freak didn’t want her bag, and I wasn’t sending it back.

OK, THE TASTE OF THE FISH:  BLAND

Come on it’s catfish, Farm Raised (I wonder if the food pellets the farm raised catfish are eating are “organic” or just the generic feed you get at Southern States).  The fish and batter was not crispy, however this was a sandwich.  Maybe the bun absorbed all the crispiness.  (that doesn’t make sense)  Plus did I say it was bland?  {please refer to the second sentence of this paragraph}  

Now… the biggest problem with this place is that it’s like Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch… they are not very economically savvy for the modern age… much less the East End of Charleston.  $6.50 for a McFish Sandwich with an extra piece of fish!!! That’s what I got.  I know the local red head doesn’t agree but the Fish Place in the Farmers Market has the best fish, the best Fish Sandwich, and the Best Fish Combo! Period.  It is flavorful, crispy, and economically savvy..  $6.99 (maybe $7.99 for the combo)  But you get a huge fish sandwich on a croissant bun, with fries!  Not a bag of chips that you’d get at Subway, but real frozen fries served out of a vat of grease!!!!!  Heaven isn’t too far away.  PLUS… and this is the real kicker…. You can substitute EXTRA FRIES in place of the Slaw!!!!  Somewhere Homer Simpson is making a sound.  

and finally, even though it’s not local…it’s a great fish sandwich: 

CJ Maggies – by Susan

The restaurant is on Main Street in Buckhannon, WV in an old storefront that CJ has decorated with all sorts of antique artifacts. The booths are very private with light fixtures made of upside-down galvanized tubs. If you don’t ever make it to Buckhannon, try one of the other locations in Elkins, Ashland, KY or Fairmont. (Oh goodie – another place I could stop on the way home from a WVU game!)

The only bad thing about CJ’s is I like so many things on their varied menu, it’s tough to make up my mind about what to order. They have big salads, big sandwiches, big pastas, (are you noticing a trend?) brick-oven pizzas, a few tex-mex options, unusual appetizers and some meat & tater offerings. These sandwiches and pastas are not only big, but they are original and different from what you can get anywhere else. They have an awesome, unusual side called Alfredo Bites. These little jewels are cubes of fettucini alfredo that are breaded and subsequently deep fried, served with alfredo and marinara sauces. As you may have guessed already, this restaurant will get a lot of forks from me.

Today, I ordered the Codzilla. It’s a gigantic fish sandwich with a side of homemade kettle chips for $6.99. This meal is so big, I have split it with my Dad before, the man who gave me a love of the Fish Sandwich. Take a look at this photo – I stacked as much fish as I could on the huge bun and still had one entire fillet that had to stand alone. I received not one, not two, but THREE big cod fillets, hand-breaded with Panko and fried to a delightful crispness. The fillets were thick enough to get a good taste of fish but in perfect proportion to the wonderful breading. The bun was crispy and warm, called Hearth Bread in these parts, and the chips were great. They also serve homemade fries they call Fribos, which are also….you guessed it: awesome! 

I have never seen a fish sandwich like this one anywhere else, and certainly not at the Tricky Fish. Heck, my leftover fillet was three times what the Tricky Fish gave me on their $7.95 sandwich.

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9 responses to “Introducing Top Fish

  1. I don’t claim to be an expert, but the fish sammich combo at Capitol Market makes a mighty fine lunch. Yum!

  2. Jake-

    Capitol Market’s Big Fish Combo will definitely be reviewed. I can’t wait!

    Chez-

    I am so glad someone is excited about that. I was very happy to have an opportunity to create a spreadsheet.

  3. I love love love the fish sammie at the market! it’s ya ya yummy!

  4. PS-try the fish sandwich at Quaker Steak and Lube (the only good thing on the menu in my opinion), it’s gianormous and if cooked right, amazing and size of my arm. I’m not kidding, it’s huge.

  5. Drove to Buckhannon today with Fish on the Mind. I’ve had Capitol Markets Big Fish and yes it is a Big Fish. But when it comes to taste, You can’t beat C J Maggies Codzilla, best in the state. Their complementary Bread and Herb Garlic Butter was a really nice added touch. Tried the Italian Wine, loved it, took a bottle home. I would recommend a drive North to everyone.

  6. Hey Susan,
    You’ve not been in for awhile. I’m now, and have for a while, been serving fresh hand-cut fries instead of frozen.
    Thanks,
    The Admiral

  7. Hi Admiral!

    Seems like we think about you on Mondays…but you aren’t open on Mondays. Plus it’s been too cold to go out much. We’ll be back soon.

    That’s great news about the fresh-cut fries. Boy, you sure know the way to a girl’s heart!

    Oh, and Ron would like to know if there’s any way he could get a hold of some free-flowing ketchup. He wastes a lot of time opening a dozen little ketchup packets.

  8. We’ve been using free-flowing for sometime.
    Thanks,
    The Admiral

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