What you’ll normally get at Baumhower’s is some wings with a side of the latest sporting event playing on their dozens of flat screens. Don’t ask me why I do it, but I’m huge on going to a place that specializes in one thing and ordering something on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment or I just want to see the range of the chef(s). In this case it is because I love me some catfish & shrimp. There was also the matter of my Seafood September (2012) Theme that had already taken a hit from procrastination and good ol’ fashioned laziness, so there was no question I was going with some seafood.
I felt that I hadn’t gone out on too far of a limb with my order of fried catfish and grilled gulf shrimp. I wasn’t too worried about the potential quality of their catfish. There are hundreds of farms in Alabama & the southeast that raise fresh catfish for restaurant suppliers so I knew it’d likely be on the fresher side. As for the gulf shrimp I wasn’t as confident going in, but the ocean isn’t all that far so I took a deep breath and ordered. I also grabbed some gooey fries on the side because I’m a fatty and I like fries with lots of cheese and bacon.
When it all arrived I began the initial inspection. This is the point in the whole ordeal in which I take my pictures. On a side note; the restaurant is a little on the dimly lit side and this made taking photos difficult to the point I had to be “that guy” and use the flash in a restaurant, but I became “that guy” for all the readers and fans of TheDoWhat! Upon visually inspecting the food for a couple of minutes everything seemed in order and not totally phoned in. The catfish didn’t seem raw, the shrimp were cooked to a golden brown and even had slight grill marks but the hush puppies appeared as if they cooked a few minutes too long.
Once all this was finished I broke out the silverware and began my journey across this plate full of uncertainty.
I’ll start with the catfish:
Now I really do love catfish, it’s one of my favorite foods beside BBQ/ribs and maybe sushi. When it comes to catfish there is a perfect medium. It exists when the edges have just the right amount of crisp without being burnt and the middle is done but neither soggy & done enough to not be deadly or overly done because the cook was willing to sacrifice quality to keep from serving potentially underdone fish.
In my opinion the catfish at Baumhower’s was about 60-70% of a success. The portion size was right where it needed to be with the three hand sized filets. The meat was cooked thoroughly all the way through but the middle seemed to be that soggier texture that could have been cooked a minute or two longer to get that flakier texture that makes catfish great. The exterior & edge meat on these filets were done to the appropriate crisp and flakiness. fortunately for the catfish but unfortunately for us, the catfish eventually emerged as the highlight of the whole meal.
Next is the grilled gulf shrimp:
It’s going to be hard to say anything bad about this shrimp other than there’s not a lot to say about it at all. If you’ve ever eaten shrimp at any casual dining restaurant in your life, you’ve had this shrimp. You can get it either grilled or fried, I of course chose grilled because the catfish was going to be fried and I wanted to keep it healthy. They’re marinated in a very average tasting lemon-garlic sauce, grilled and serve on a skewer. What I did like about this shrimp had little to do with the actual taste but the options you have when ordering: you can either order the full gulf shrimp meal or get a half-dozen as a side to any entre for about $6. The latter option was the only reason I ordered them in the first place because I originally was only going to get some fish.
Last we’ll talk hushpuppies:
Some people wouldn’t give hush puppies a thought, after all they’re only an extra made out of excess batter from the fish. I couldn’t disagree more, I love hushpuppies and will praise them as much or more than the food if they’re worthy. Unfortunately these versions of this sacred side were so sub par looking on first impression that I almost didn’t even taste them. When the plate was first sat down I noticed their burnt appearance and was immediately discouraged. It wasn’t until I was finished with everything else that I decided to give them a try. And even then I only gave them the satisfaction of one bite.
I wasn’t wrong in my prediction that these would be pretty bad. They appeared as if they’d been sat in the frier and had been forgotten about until it was too late. If the extremely dark brown/burnt exterior wasn’t enough, the dry flavorless inside made it almost impossible to chew. I’m not sure why I’m giving a sports bar that specializes in wings such a hard time about their hushpuppies, but a piece of food that bad has got to be exposed for the mockery of the genre that it is.
Would I try it again?
Yeah I’ll go to Baumhower’s again to watch a ball game and grab a big basket of wings and those gooey fries I love so much. I doubt I’ll ever go back and attempt to have seafood other than the catfish, which was the only part of this meal I’d be willing to say was at all unique and/or worth talking about taste wise. I think the catfish quality can only go up and I’d like to give it another chance someday. But since there are so many better places to try catfish, that chance may be in the distant future.
I hope y’all enjoyed reading this and be sure to check out my other categories & posts on TheDoWhat.com!