Southern Fish Fry
Once again, the call of chicken wings was just too much. I had just stumbled on a place in plain sight and the lure of southern cuisine is too much for me to pass.
Southern Fish Fry is on Wealthy Street on Grand Rapids Southeast side. It’s just to the west of Fuller Avenue near Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop. The space is small and apparently is one of many former locations of a Wing Heaven restaurant. As Southern Fish Fry, they’ve been open almost seven years.
Parking for Southern Fish Fry is what you expect in this neighborhood. There is plenty of on street parking and since the restaurant is a carry-out only shop, it’s pretty simple to find a place nearby to park to run in and pick up your food.
I really couldn’t decide between wings and rib tips on my way to find this place. I’ve passed it so many times in the six years I’ve worked in Grand Rapids but the signage is pretty terrible with just a logo on the window. Heck, I didn’t even see it on this trip when I was looking for it until I had already parked just knowing I was in the right block on Wealthy Street.
The restaurant is small. The order counter is right inside the door and there are a couple of stools to sit on while waiting. The menu is hung over the order counter and can be a little daunting. The main attraction at this small, neighborhood restaurant is obviously fried fish. I’m not a fish eater, but I do love chicken wings and most places that do fish, also do chicken.
I scanned the menu real quick looking to see if there was anything else. I had seen a menu online that showed rib tips, but I couldn’t find them as I was standing there ready to order. Much later, while I was waiting, I saw those tips, but it was too late and I had already ordered a Medium order of Whole Wings and a large order of fries.
The cost for all that fried food was around $12. I paid in cash not knowing if they took cards or not. The man I assumed was the cook took my money then headed back into the kitchen where he got another man to come out and drop the wings and fries into the fryer.
I took a seat on one of the stools to wait and got to enjoy a very loud episode of The First 48 that was on the TV that sits above the order counter. I used to watch that show a lot, but damn, it was LOUD. I actually had a hard time hearing the guy taking my order not because I couldn’t understand him or because he was talking to softly. No. It was because the TV is right above the cash register and they probably had that thing as loud as it would go.
It took a little over ten minutes for my boxes of food to be handed to me. They asked again if I wanted any sauce on my wings, but I said no. I was looking for just delicious, plain wings. I probably should have took the second question as a suggestion though.
I ripped open the fry bag when I got back in to the car. I couldn’t remember if I had eaten anything for lunch that day or not, but by 6:00, I was pretty hungry. The fries were really hot. I bit in to one and had to put it back down and wait a few minutes. I had salt and pepper put on the fries as a seasoning, so when they did finally cool enough for me to get in to them, they were a little bit more tasty than the simple, bland fries that they were. The fries were just restaurant crinkle cut fries, but they were well cooked with a piping hot, crunchy exterior and a soft steamy inside. These are dipping fries, but since I don’t like dipping, salt and pepper did the trick to make them delicious.
The medium size order of whole wings is eight pieces. The wings were a little on the small side, but they had a very, very crispy coating that was crunchy, but nowhere near burned. The batter was the majority of the wing though as there was very little meat on some of the wings. Some kind of sauce would have done wonders for these wings as the batter itself didn’t have much flavor. The wings weren’t bad, but they didn’t have much going for them either. If the wings were a little bit heartier, they would have been delicious, but the lack of meat and abundance of breading reminds me too much of the fast food places that I was trying to avoid.
Southern Fish Fry isn’t a bad little joint in the East Hills neighborhood. The wings were a little on the disappointing side, but this is a fish place, so it can’t be judged on chicken alone. It’s another one of those places I want to explore a little more before forming an opinion. Restaurants don’t survive for seven years in a pretty competitive climate without having something going for them. I just need to find out what that something is and exploit it for my taste buds.