Archive for Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fare catch

East Lawrence restaurant hopes to lure observers of Lent

Waitress Melissa Olson,19, Lawrence, cleans up at Midwest Fish Frye & So Much More, 1910 Haskell Ave. Anthony Gauna, owner of Cross Town Tavern, bought the restaurant and now offers a wider variety of food. Still, fish is served for customers observing Lent.

Waitress Melissa Olson,19, Lawrence, cleans up at Midwest Fish Frye & So Much More, 1910 Haskell Ave. Anthony Gauna, owner of Cross Town Tavern, bought the restaurant and now offers a wider variety of food. Still, fish is served for customers observing Lent.

February 27, 2008


Catfish fillets and fries are served at Midwest Fish Frye and So Much More, 1910 Haskell Ave. The restaurant reopened under new ownership Jan. 14 in time to serve fish and more to customers observing Lent.

Catfish fillets and fries are served at Midwest Fish Frye and So Much More, 1910 Haskell Ave. The restaurant reopened under new ownership Jan. 14 in time to serve fish and more to customers observing Lent.

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If Midwest Fish Frye & So Much More were a book, it might be sorely misjudged.Set back in a strip mall across from a gas station, the restaurant looks unassuming. But step inside and ... well, it's so much more than meets the eye.

"I think a lot of people walk in and are kind of surprised - definitely can't go by the outside of it. I mean, not that it's horrible on the outside, but I think it surprises a lot of people when they walk in," says Dianne Gil, the restaurant's bookkeeper, cashier and jack of all trades. "I remember the first time I walked in, I was like, 'Wow, this is pretty cool!'

"We have comfortable tables and chairs, we've got a fireplace with a fish tank. It's just really nice ambiance."

The name also might leave some wondering what's behind the doors. The restaurant, 1910 Haskell Ave., had a previous incarnation as simply Midwest Fish Frye. But at the end of 2007, Anthony Gauna, owner of the neighboring Cross Town Tavern, bought the restaurant and shut it down.

It reopened with new management Jan. 14, just in time to serve fish - cod catfish and tilapia - for observers of Lent.

"We have specials Fridays and Sundays for Lent," Gauna says. "We also do all our stuff from scratch - we bread it ourselves; we don't buy anything prebreaded. We cook it as they order it. ... it's more like homemade than anything else."

But it's not just fish frying in the back - it's now Midwest Fish Frye & So Much More for a reason.

"We have dishes that include fish, chicken, beef, pork, shrimp and burgers. We have side dishes that include salads and dessert. We have sandwiches. We have Mexican food," Gil says. "Just a little bit of everything."

That's exactly what Gauna thought the restaurant needed when he used to patronize it under its former owners. So, when he got an offer to buy the place, he snapped it up.

"I was raised in Lawrence on this side of town, and I thought I had some ideas of what they'd like to eat," Gauna says.

Gauna says that because of the restaurant's small size - it seats 25 - it is able to keep the prices and wait down despite the food being made to order.

"We can keep our customers happy ... to seat 100 people, that would be hard," Gauna says. "Ninety-five percent of the stuff is made from scratch."

The restaurant plans to add a handful of tables to an outdoor patio when the weather improves, which would nearly double the amount of customers it can serve inside. It also has curbside pickup and free wireless Internet. And in its second month, it has begun business-only delivery.

"Once we get it out there and it gets going, then I'll have residential delivery," Gauna says.

Until he can go to them, Gauna hopes residential folks will venture to the east side of Lawrence to check out the restaurant.

"Some people said the name might hurt us, but you know once people ... start checking us out, maybe they'll just come to see," Gauna says. "I've always been one that you can't judge it until you've seen it or tasted it."

Lenten recipes

Deluxe Fish Sandwich with Tarragon-Mayonnaise


3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

2 6-ounce tilapia fillets, or other white fish fillets

salt&black; pepper

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs (or other dried breadcrumbs)

2 large Kaiser rolls

1 tomato, sliced

2 thin slices mild onion

2 lettuce leaves

Ingredients: Tarragon-Mayonnaise

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons catsup

1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice, to taste

2 teaspoons fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped

Heat the oil over medium heat in a skillet large enough to hold the fish fillets. Sprinkle the fillets with salt and pepper and dredge them in the flour, shaking off the excess. Dip the fillets into the beaten egg, drain off excess and coat them generously with the breadcrumbs. When the oil is hot, place the fillets in the skillet and cook for 2 to 3 minutes each side, until the topping is lightly browned and the fish flakes easily when pierced with a fork. Drain the fillets briefly on paper towels.

Tarragon-Mayonnaise: Place all ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine.

Cut the Kaiser rolls in half and spread some of the Tarragon-Mayonnaise on the cut sides of each roll. Place the rolls cut side up on a baking sheet and toast under the oven-broiler, about 1 minute. Place each fish fillet on the bottom half of the rolls. Top the fillets with a dollop of the Tarragon-Mayonnaise, arrange the sliced tomato, onion and lettuce on the sandwiches. Cover with top portions of the rolls and serve immediately. Serves 2.

Shrimp Po' Boys

2 gallons peanut oil

1/2 cup coarse-ground cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1-1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed

1/3 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons grainy mustard

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

4 (8-inch) pieces baguette

4 lettuce leave

4 thin slices red onion

8 (1/4-inch-thick tomato slices)

Pour oil into a large deep fryer; heat to 350 degrees. Combine cornmeal, flour, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt and pepper in a shallow dish, stirring well. Dredge shrimp in cornmeal mixture. Fry shrimp at 350 degrees for 4 minutes or until done. Remove shrimp and drain well on paper towels.

Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, mayonnaise, mustard and lemon juice, stirring well. Spread about 1 tablespoon mayonnaise mixture over cut sides of bread slices. Place one lettuce leaf on the bottom half of each bread slice; top with one red onion slice and two tomato slices. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper, if desired. Divide shrimp evenly among sandwiches; place top halves of the bread slices on each. Cut sandwiches in half. Serve immediately.

- Recipe from Luckie Strategic Public Relations

Crawfish Pies

2-1/2 gallons plus 2 tablespoons peanut oil

1/3 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped celery

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 dry white wine

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons hot sauce

1 (1-pound) package frozen crawfish tail meat, thawed

1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated 9-inch pie crust

Pour 2 1/2 gallons oil in a deep fryer; heat to 375 degrees. Heat remaining two tablespoons oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper and celery to pan; saute 3 minutes. Add garlic; saute 1 minute. Stir in wine; cook 1 minute or until liquid almost evaporates. Combine vegetable mixture, cream cheese and next four ingredients, stirring well. Fold crawfish into cheese mixture, stirring to combine. Cut each (9-inch) pie crust in half to form four semicircles. Using a slotted spoon, place about one cup crawfish mixture in the center of each crust half; fold edges over, pressing to seal. Crimp edges with a fork. Fry pies at 375 degrees for five minutes or until golden, turning once. Serve immediately.

- Recipe from Luckie Strategic Public Relations


threeboys 10 years, 2 months ago

Obviously you don't eat out much. That is about the going rate for drinks. I have been there and thought the kids meals were reasonable, and they got alot for the money. We really enjoyed it.

walkdog262 10 years, 2 months ago

Sounds like a great restaurant but that location is death! It's almost as bad as 15th and Kasold, where the Brass Apple/LouZeana's etc. etc. tried and failed.

Nate Poell 10 years, 2 months ago

This place sounds pretty good. I'll have to make a trip over there sometime.

But what's with that first photo? Those look like chicken wings, not fish. Anyone know what they are?

TheEleventhStephanie 10 years, 2 months ago

One of the photos says it's catfish. The other photo looks like shrimp to me. What do I know? I hate seafood!

I'd like to try their fried chicken if itdoesn't taste like fish from the frying oil.

Veritas 10 years, 2 months ago

Call me crazy...but it looks like fish to me.

suesay 10 years, 2 months ago

If I still lived in Lawrence, I'd check it out fo sho!

theeyeshaveit 10 years, 2 months ago

TheEleventhStephanie- The fried chicken was delicious. No fish taste at all.

I live near there and wandered in right after they reopened. The service and timing wasn't the best, but I think they were still working out the kinks. The food was really good so I will go back and give them another try.

As for the price of the milk, that is what my 5 year old had to drink. She drank it all and they gave her a refill at no extra charge which I have never had happen anywhere so I had no complaints about the price.

aphotoguy 10 years, 2 months ago

My wife and I just went and ate dinner. I had the best pork tenderloin sandwich of my life. My wife had the catfish & chips. There was so much catfish that I am having it for lunch tomorrow. Everyone around us was having the special which was 2 pieces of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and a biscuit for 5.50. The chicken looked so good we got the 4 piece dinner to go. It was only 8 bucks. I will have that for dinner tomorrow. Just know that there are only 6 four-top tables. Everything is made fresh, but food didn't take too long. After this article you will need to expect to wait for a table during peak eating times.


rattler 10 years, 2 months ago

I hope the other photo was frog legs, since Don's closed I've had to go to KC for some frog legs

ljwreader 10 years, 2 months ago

For you critics trying to be funny the picture is of delicious fried fish. Duh! Anybody knows that breaded and fried food comes out in different shapes. Would you prefer that they trim it into a fish shape for you? Maybe add a few whiskers so you know for sure it's catfish? Come on people. I also think it's a bunch of crap that it's in a bad location. I have never been harassed or know anybody else that has been hurt in any way shape or form going to eat at this great place. In fact I have seen nothing but couples, happy families with children, single peaceful people and a very friendly staff of workers there. The food is delicious and fresh, prices reasonable and portions are more than satisfying. Not to mention the atmosphere is classy and very clean, way more appealing than some places I've been to in other parts of Lawrence. Who said that this location is death? It looks alive and WELL to me. I bet they're going to do even more business this Spring with outdoor seating. For all of you that want to judge a book by its cover: You are truly missing out on the best chapter yet.

rattler 10 years, 2 months ago

ljwreader: There was another photo that showed 4 to 6 wedge shaped fried items that could easily have been shrimp, frog legs, or chicken wings (upon further study I now thing wings). Check the link a couple posts up.

ljwreader 10 years, 2 months ago

LOL Yes, I just seen it. It does indeed look like CHICKEN WINGS.

ljwreader 10 years, 2 months ago

Or frog legs? Hmmmmm... I didn't see that photo until now. Darn it, you guys got me in on this too. Frog legs would be a good suggestion, being that there aren't any places in Lawrence that serve them that I know of. Oh wait, doesn't the "Dirty Bird" (Flamingo) have those?

ljwreader 10 years, 2 months ago

Maybe just obese frogs that grew up in Lawrence on the North side with plenty of mosquitos to feast on! Yea that's it!!! If it is indeed chicken then they deserve even bigger props. Imagine a dozen. Enough chicken to feed a whole family. The chicken I ate there really was good by the way. They have gizzards too. That's gizzards, not lizards. :)

pagan_idolator 10 years, 2 months ago

Okay - to set the record straight - those are chicken wings in the questionable photo. Midwest does not serve frog legs but if you ask they might consider doing them as a special once in awhile. The chicken wings are served just plain ol' fried, they are not hot or buffalo wings. They look huge because they are a whole wing - not just the drummette. For those of you pining for frog legs - Jin Shan (strip mall at 23rd and Harper) has had them on the buffet every time I have been there. Hope I cleared everything up for you!

TriSigmaKS 10 years, 1 month ago

I went last night and it was FANTASTIC! Very small inside, but they are working on expanding even more. GREAT food, best pork tenderloin sandwich ever in town. Great prices and nice staff. I surely do recommend it!

FromNYC 10 years, 1 month ago

Reticent_Ireverent, not everybody practices lent. Why are you so bent on making a negative comment? My husband and I saw the article in the paper then today we went, and must say that it was definitely worth every penny spent!!! (I'm a poetess, can't help myself.)

FromNYC 10 years, 1 month ago

;) I hear you! Well we went there again today for lunch to try their cod, and it was very good again. They were extremely busy (somebody mentioned they're getting outdoor seating soon though) and our food took a little longer than expected but other than that it was still worth the trip. We'd rather wait a little longer for fresh food anyhow. We were served with friendliness nonetheless and even had enough to take home. I give them two thumbs up!

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