Lent is winding down, and the Friday fish fry scene is about to dissipate similarly.
Fortunately, Louisville has options if you aren’t ready to give up the fried deliciousness from the waters, and Captain Ville in the Algonquin neighborhood is one that shouldn’t be overlooked.
A brother restaurant of sorts to Shark’s Fish & Chicken in McMahan Plaza, Captain Ville focuses on fried fish and shrimp, with chicken wings and tenders a close runner-up. In fact, the latter occupies the space occupied by the former for several years before moving east.
Captain Ville owner Zach Atieh is the brother of Shark’s owner Jay Atieh; Zach told me he took over the location in November 2017 after the original owner of the place wasn’t making a go of it.
When I walked into Captain Ville recently and began perusing the menu, two hand-painted boards above the counter touting perch, cod, salmon, catfish and more, the friendly Zach told me, “Catfish is our No. 1 best-seller.”
Sold. I went for the catfish sandwich with fries, along with a side of fried okra and a side of fried shrimp.
The menu also offers four shrimp dinners, as well as an option for fried oysters. “Jumbo piece” wings start at $5.99 for four, while tenders come in three-, four- and six-piece orders. The “Starters” menu includes crabcakes, fried green tomatoes, hush puppies and other options.
Captain Ville also has you covered if you’re looking for desserts, with a display case filled with cakes and pies, along with Lady J’s lemonade and other drinks that are alternatives to the canned and bottled mass-produced soda options also available (no alcohol).
The small space has five tables, with the décor echoing the red and white exterior. The tiny dining room is clean and orderly.
I waited maybe 10 minutes for my order to come up — you order at the counter — and when I approached the counter to pick it up, Zach smiled and opened the top of the Styrofoam container to unveil it to me. His enthusiasm was warranted, as I was staring down the barrel of one huge piece of cornmeal-battered catfish.
For $4.99, the fish and fries alone would have filled me up and then some, but I’m glad I got a few extras to expand my tasting experience. Yes, it was all fried, but the flavors varied.
The catfish was classic Southern-style, with plenty of pepper in the cornmeal to add an extra layer to the flavor and balance the light sweetness of the corn. The fish inside the crispy layer was flaky and so light so as to nearly be creamy, even buttery.
And the fish was half again as big as the sliced white bread served with it — I could scarcely imagine how big the catfish dinner is, at $7.99 versus just $4.99 for the sandwich.
I ate my way through half the fish with my fork and put the rest on the bread as a sandwich. The tartar sauce at Captain Ville is the standard stuff that comes in a pouch, but it really isn’t necessary for this fish.
Under my fish was a layer of crinkle-cut fries that were pretty much the requisite specimens — a fine complement, but nothing to get excited about.
Meanwhile, however, the eight medium-sized shrimp were fried in a different type of batter, a darker-looking mix that contained a seasoning I couldn’t quite place, setting it ever so slightly apart from the usual fried shrimp.
The okra tasted fresh and looked to be hand-cut and hand-battered. The unique, slightly earthy flavor and silky texture went nicely with the batter, and a bit of added hot sauce (yes, from a packet) made a nice complement.
As I was dining, I saw at least half-a-dozen people stop in for carryout, and all but one of them ordered the catfish. The one person who I’d heard order perch stopped to look at my catfish as he prepared to walk out with his meal and asked if I was enjoying it. I said yes, and he said, “It’s good.”
Apparently, he just wanted a change of pace, but I thought I noticed some envy in his eyes.
Captain Ville, located at 2001 Seventh Street Road, is open 10 a.m.-midnight, Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m.-1 a.m., Friday and Saturday; and noon-midnight on Sunday.