Get a True Fry at Florissant Fish and Chicken
Despite the atmosphere, the restaurant's fish and chicken could be the best in the area.
Florissant Fish and Chicken sits on Lindbergh Boulevard and is set up to be a two-in-one deal: the makings of a Long John Silver's—but better—and a corner shop.
This is a pay at the counter, fast and casual kind of place. While I waited to place my order, I watched the man behind the register prepare the previous customer’s fish—from scratch.
Yes, the open dining room and kitchen let me watch him select naked pieces of fish, roll them in batter, dust them with seasoning and put them in the deep fryer. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone hand bread anything right before frying it. That was when I knew this was going to be good.
It didn't take me long to decide that the house specialty of fried fish would be my meal for the day.
If you think “fish” means a tablespoon of generic white paste tucked inside some kind of insanely fluffy batter, you’re in for an education.
This is what fried fish is meant to be. The light, crispy, seasoned batter was a beautifully thin layer of flavor atop the fish compared to a batter ball of industrial-sized insulation. You could still see the texture of the meat below, and more importantly, taste actual fish.
The flour and cornmeal mix was seasoned with garlic and pepper before being finished out of the fryer with a house blend of sugar, salt, citric acid and a tiny hint of paprika.
Florissant Fish and Chicken doesn’t try to hide the size of the meat with excessive batter. Instead, the restaurant uses the batter as a seasoning.
It specializes in catfish, but also serves jack salmon, ocean perch, buffalo fish, tilapia and shrimp. Dinners with coleslaw, fries and bread range from $8 for two pieces of jack salmon or tilapia to $12 for 15 pieces of shrimp.
If you prefer chicken, the restaurant offers it in the form of nuggets, tenders, buffalo wings, whole wings and gizzards with dinner combos ranging from as little as $3 for six nuggets to $9 for 10 whole wings.
I chose the wonderfully delicate tilapia with a side of hush puppies.
The hush puppies were solid balls of cornbread dough dropped into the deep fryer and dusted with more of the salty sweet finishing seasoning. For $2, you get 10 of these dense, heavy doughballs, which are almost the opposite of the airy, fluffy hush puppies seen in most chain restaurants.
You can also get side orders of fried okra, jollof rice, beef pizza puffs or spaghetti.
The menu features a variety of immense $50 meals meant to feed a large family for Sunday dinner. In fact, the Sunday special includes 20 chicken wings, five pieces of either catfish or jack salmon, 20 shrimp, 10 chicken tenders, a family-sized order of fries, 8 ounces of coleslaw and a loaf of bread.
Go to Florissant Fish and Chicken for its namesake dishes. Heck, after eating my fish, I was half tempted to order a to-go meal with the chicken nuggets just to see if he would bread those by hand as well, but I already had half a box of food to take home.
After all that praise, I must say the atmosphere isn’t the warmest. The cashier looked suspicious of me and the regular customers blatantly glared at me when I took a seat instead of getting my food to go.
If you decide to place a takeout order, you’re not missing much. The restaurant looks like someone slapped a massive, open kitchen into a church gym. The only decorations in the industrial-feeling room are a roll on trim of fish just under the ceiling and some slightly sticky artificial flowers on a few of the tables.
That said, the restaurant offers a great bargain on tasty fish prepared the way it was meant to be. Call in advance and place a takeout order.
A slightly more friendly, inclusive atmosphere would bump up its rating. Under the circumstances, I give Florissant Fish and Chicken a solid B. I look forward to placing takeout orders for more of their hand battered fish.