Eating at JJ Fish and Chicken, a new fast-food joint in Jeffersonville, Ind., took me back to the kinds of meals I used to eat when I was in my early 20s. Back in those days, I had a hearty appetite and I would eat pretty much anything battered and fried.
When my buddy Greg recommended JJ’s to me, he warned me of what I was in for. Hey, it sounded like the perfect topic for a Taste Bud – and it was.
The place reminded me a bit of Indie’s (it is in the former home of Captain D’s), but with more of an emphasis on seafood, with a specialty of ocean perch. But there are plenty of choices: jack salmon, catfish nuggets, shrimp, cod fish, tilapia, oysters and more. On the fowl side, there are whole wings plain or tossed in buffalo, honey or barbecue sauce, as well as gizzards, tenders and nuggets.
Yep, all fried.
I decided to straddle the line, so I ordered a combo special mixing perch with wings. I had no idea what I was in for. I was the only one in the place at the time, so when the friendly woman who took my order approached my table with a huge package wrapped in a red and white JJ’s bag, I thought either she had brought me some family’s to-go order, or I had stumbled into a mob restaurant and she was about to present me with a severed head.
Nope, it was my food. A mound of it. I unwrapped it to find a Styrofoam container bulging with fried goodness: three whole wings, three sizable pieces of perch, a mound of french fries, two cups of coleslaw and, just to make sure I didn’t walk away hungry, two pieces of bread buried under all of it. With it was a plastic fork.
I took my first bite of ocean perch and was immediately a happy man. The cornmeal coating was fried perfectly, and was slightly peppery. The fish-to-breading flavor ratio was spot on. Since the fish was, er, perched (sorry) atop the mountain of food, using a fork was precarious at best. So I abandoned it and went straight carnivore, eating the rest of my fried feast with my hands.
The chicken was fried crispy, with the tender meat maintaining plenty of moisture. I didn’t enjoy the chicken as much as the fish, but that’s not a slam. The wings were only lightly spiced and breaded, so luckily I had grabbed a container of hot sauce while I ordered. These wings are perfect dipping foods.
The fries were solid, and the coleslaw was actually better than I expected, not too sweet, with the crunchy vegetables tasting fresh and not getting overwhelmed by the creamy dressing.
Of course, I got full well in advance of finishing all the food. So, I did what any self-respecting man would do: I ate all the meat and left the coleslaw, bread and a few fries behind. Leaving meat behind is sort of the same thing as wasting beer. It just isn’t done.
By the time I finished, I had grease and hot sauce all over my fingers, lips, beard, pen and notebook. Heck, I would not have been surprised later if I found grease on my socks.
Anyway, I washed it down with a Pepsi, and the whole meal cost me all of nine bucks. Not bad when you consider it could easily feed two. And a full-on family meal for four starts at $19.99. Not bad at all.
You can also get sandwiches, gyros and what the order-taker said was a pretty good Philly cheesesteak. Sandwiches start at $4.99. Heck, nothing in the place is much over 10 bucks except for the big shrimp dinners and the family meals. A four wings and fries meal costs under five bucks, and that would easily make a nice lunch. (Also, you can get 100 wings for $64.99, and football season is coming up, if you know what I mean.)
The employee I spoke to said JJ Fish and Chicken actually originated in Chicago, but the owner, whom she identified as Nehae “Nick” Thacker moved to the Louisville area and brought the concept with him. There are a few other JJ’s franchises in the Midwest as well. Don’t be surprised if you see a couple more pop up locally.
(JJ Fish and Chicken is located at 1701 E. 10th St. For carry-out or delivery, call 812-282-2523.)