Homage, hurrays or whatever you call praise has long been due a landmark restaurant in nearby Port Orange. It’s one I’ve enjoyed half a dozen times never thinking to share that enjoyment in something like a review. The time has come to add my voice to the chorus of huzzahs and spread the word about the big green restaurant on Halifax Drive, Aunt Catfish’s.
Offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as Sunday brunch, Aunt Catfish’s is family-owned, and offers both indoor and outdoor waterfront settings. Soups, salads, appetizers, sandwiches, wraps and desserts on a menu including lump blue crab cakes, coconut shrimp, crab cakes, fried green tomatoes, onion petals and clam chowder. They also serve blackened tilapia, pecan-crusted fried catfish, bay scallops, tenderloin dip and lobster or salmon salad.
With friends visiting from Louisiana this week, finding restaurants to match up with the flavors of their home state is hard going, and catfish particularly is not a dish uncommon to the good cooks of south Louisiana. In truth, taking friends from Louisiana to a catfish restaurant in Florida is something of a dare. But this time the dare paid off and the crew at Aunt Crawfish’s laid out a feast of catfish any Louisiananian would be happy with, and that includes big eaters. Not likely that anyone leaves the table hungry. We ordered catfish for three and got what would have satisfied five. The catfish was fresh, filleted and delicately prepared. The fried fillets were coated in a light batter with just the right amount of crunch and the baked potatoes cooked perfectly.
The salad bar included with many of the dinners is a place to make certain your eyes aren’t bigger than your stomach. It’s easy to go overboard with the array of choices, many that go beyond salad, and load a plate with cornbread, cheese grits, black-eyed peas or baked beans. Take half that back to your table and you may end up carrying the catfish home in a box.
Any frustration over dinner at Aunt Catfish’s would more than likely stem from having to wait for a table. Always crowded, always a line of people waiting, chances are slim that on any night you can walk in and be seated right away. We were lucky Tuesday evening in having to wait only about ten minutes for a table outside on the deck. A table inside would have taken longer.
Driving home later I asked my friends what they thought of the restaurant and the food, and both replied that it was excellent, that they wouldn’t hesitate to go back on another occasion.