Little Libby’s Catfish
234 Lime Quarry Rd.
I feel obligated to defend the honor of the catfish.
You probably consider this bottom dweller of the South’s muddy waters to be lower-class food, right?
Of course, reality shows with rednecks “noodling” swampy waters for giant catfish with their bare hands probably doesn’t help the poor catfish’s rep.
But the fact is, fish of all kinds have gone from poor man’s food, to the most expensive fare at your local Piggy Wiggly.
Even lowly species like catfish can cost more than a New York Strip.
So I think it’s about time the catfish gets its due.
Besides, almost all the catfish you eat these days comes from carefully regulated farms here in the American South.
Normally I’m not a big fan of farm-raised fish, but in the case of the catfish—which is a bottom feeder and will eat just about anything—, farm-raised is not such a bad idea.
And I’ll take farm-raised fish from right here in Alabama over farm-raised fish like tilapia raised in China any day.
I trust the good-ole boys here in Alabama to know how to properly raise a tasty catfish more than a bunch of Commies halfway around the world.
Which is what brings me to Little Libby’s Catfish here in Madison, Alabama.
It’s a bustling joint tucked behind the interstate near the Huntsville Airport, which is super convenient for a proud traveler such as myself. And it’s a nice reprieve from this thriving metro area of northern Alabama.
Huntsville is so freshly scrubbed and gleaming and thriving, it’s easy to forget you are even in Alabama.
Unfortunately, this kind of “progress” in America usually means lots of traffic, well-manicured medians, landscaped strip malls, and national chain restaurants as far as the eye can see.
Which, of course, is financed by a steady flow of federal tax dollars.
And thanks to NASA and multiple federal military installations and contractors, this “Rocket City” gets more than its fair share of slop from the federal trough.
So, if nothing else, a stop for lunch at Little Libby’s provides a welcome return to real Alabama.
While catfish is no longer a bargain, at least Little Libby’s gives you your money’s worth.
For $16, I got an overflowing plate of two big fried catfish filets, two small deviled crabs, a pair of hush puppies, a side of coleslaw, and a pile of onion rings.
At least I won’t have to eat again today.
The catfish was moist and flaky, deep fried in a crunchy, lightly seasoned cornmeal batter.
Pretty tasty. Even tastier with a few dashes of Louisiana Hot Sauce.
The deviled crabs packed a flavor wallop.
Deviled crabs are a Southern specialty. Kinda like a really bready, spicy crab cake stuffed into an empty crab carcass, aka the shell.
Admittedly, the actual crabmeat is an afterthought here. The overwhelming flavors are onion, garlic and celery salt.
Any true crab connoisseur from the Chesapeake Bay used to chunks of delicate crabmeat would probably recoil in horror.
But I would dare Mr. Crabby Pants to tell me deviled crab doesn’t TASTE good.
You can’t tell me it doesn’t – even if there isn’t much actual crab meat.
The coleslaw was decent. And the onion rings were okay.
But the hush puppies were a disappointment. Doughy and bland, they were just taking up precious stomach vacancy.
Overall, Little Libby’s Catfish was an adequate lunch stop on the way to the airport, a nice taste of Southern fried seafood in an otherwise soulless boiler-plate North Alabama metropolis.
I was glad I stopped by.
I set out with two goals.
Feed my face.
Defend the honor of catfish.
On both counts, mission accomplished.
Rating: Would Wear a Free Shirt.