Sunday, June 12, 2011

"Oh, that's good fish!"

We had come off Core Banks a few minutes earlier, having spent the morning and early afternoon on the beach, in the lighthouse, and in the maritime forest. We were sitting at a table in the Fish Hook diner, on Harker's Island, and chatting about our adventure. We had opted for the Spanish mackerel special. Leece was going on about shelling as the waitress brought our order.

Leece absently broke off a piece of fish as she talked, and nibbled it.

"Oh! That's good fish!" she exclaimed.

And it was. It was lightly breaded, and perfectly seasoned, and perfectly fried.The fish was moist and juicy without being greasy. It was, in fact, perfect.

I love Spanish mackerel. It had been a long time since I had snuffled some. This was high up on the list of the best I have ever eaten. I asked Miss Faye where she gets her seafood; she told me from "Mr. Big's Seafood", just down the street. That would be Eddie Willis. So her seafood is very, very fresh goods indeed.

The cole slaw and hush puppies were as good, too.

We went back a few days later for the clam chowder and crabcake sandwich special. Miss Faye doesn't skimp on the clams in her chowder, and the crabcakes were big enough to use as curling stones, though far more tender. The place was packed that day, and we had to park down the street. That seems to be par for the course.

Fish Hook Grill is run by Miss Faye:

It's not fancy dining. The tablecloths are black and white checkered plastic, and you'll be served on disposable tableware. There's a reason for that; it has to do with the Harker's Island waste water system. There isn't one. Everyone uses septic tanks, which in Fish Hook Grill's case limits the amount of waste water that can be properly handled. And the kitchen is right at the front of the place, just as you walk in.

We didn't find any of that objectionable; the waitstaff was friendly and provided excellent service, and Miss Faye is a downhome hoot. She's in her 80's, and recently left the Captain's Choice across the street to start up as the new owner of the Fish Hook. There are a number of stories about why she left Captain's Choice, and one or two of them may even be true.

One thing for sure ... if you want a really good seafood meal and can handle a bit of informality, you won't go wrong at Miss Faye's place. Her fried chicken is equally as good. We had some of that, picnicking at Shell Point on Harker's Island.