Flying Fish - Vietnamese style looked like a nice day, even if it would be hot one, for a ride and the quest for the grouper sandwich. And so, Saturday last, we thought, let's take a ride to that restaurant Big Jims up in Georgia. It's the one adjacent to the restaurant R which I wrote about here.

Before I regale you the charming details of the restaurant let me place the warning, this was a nasty experience and it involves me being ill. And I am cranky about it. Ok, you've been warned.

It's hot. It's another 95 degree (35 C) day and we brilliantly decide to ride in the blazing sun, armor and helmets on, for 60 miles (one way) to get a sandwich. We went inside and realized that the entire place was screened. No air conditioning. Lots and lots of fans, blowing moist warm air, flavored with cigarette smoke, around the clientele.

The unique and neat thing about the place was the old tin signs, old liquor bottles and lunchboxes, all perched on wooden rafters that ran the length and width of the screened room. The owner had a hose running atop the metal roof, giving you the impression it was raining from our inside booth. It was meant to keep the place cooler and water his plants at the same time.

I wish I had gotten photos but sometimes at these little local places I feel like such a wanker walking around snapping shots. Anyway....we were all so hot and when the waitress delivered the iced tea I slammed about three large glasses of ice cold tea. I think the combo of the cold drinks on an empty stomach, the swirling smoke, the heat and then finally the "catfish" covered in peppercorns were a deadly combination for my tummy.

I ate a few bites and told the waitress I felt nauseous and didn't want my meal.
"I can get you another one," she says helpfully.

"No thanks. It's not sitting well and there are way too many peppercorns on it for me," I say politely.

"I'll have the cook make you one without peppercorns."

"No, I'm good," I say as she moves off with my original peppery crappy sandwich. Maybe she didn't hear me. Probably she did not.

I walk up to the bar, wait for her to come around to my side, and say if the cook hasn't started it, I don't want the fish. He has started it.

She brings me the fish, minus peppercorns, and I tell her I don't want it and she says if I don't want it, it won't hurt her feelings, but she's going to leave it.

Oh, thank goodness ...... because the last thing I would want to do in a redneck local joint when I am nauseous, and about to bring up what little IS in my stomach, is hurt the waitress's feelings!

Then I see it!

At the very bottom of the menu is the inevitable health warning about consuming oysters.'s always there, always in a smaller font than most of the rest of the menu and you just glance over it.

But below that warning, in about a size 4 font is this:

"Any menu item labeled grouper is actually swai fish"

What the hell is a swai fish?! When the waitress comes back and looks at my still uneaten piece of peppercornless-not-grouper sandwich I mention the swai fish thing to her.

"Oh I've had grouper and this swai before and I actually like the swai better and it tastes very similar"

Bullshit. Bull. Shit. It does not have the same texture or consistency as grouper at all. And to boot it's a far less expensive fish than grouper. If there had been an asterisk next to the Grouper, I would have been able to follow the cues.

Well, after getting home we look it up and it's Vietnamese catfish.
Grouper costs roughly $14 a pound depending on which seafood market you are shopping. Swai runs about $1.99. We feel very cheated.

The flying fish did not come from the lake. It came from within me, an arc of tea and chunks of swai. Fortunately I realized the ejection was imminent before I got on the back of the bike. Unfortunately, I didn't make it to a proper...uh...recepticale.

And the rest of the week hasn't been peachy but I am hoping for improvement!


Wandering Coyote said...

Oh, dear God. I love it when restaurants mess with you like this! That's so ridiculous, Pierce. The price difference isn't even funny!

I'm sorry you were so sick...

Donna-FFW said...

Jeez, I hope you are feeling better!

girlichef said...

Oh man...that totally sucks! And talk about sh*tty! How in the world can they say grouper and then fine print "but not really". Doesn't seem right. Hope you're feeling better...and hope people see this warning..too bad for them :/

Pierce said...

Thanks you guys...I was really steamed about the swai. But what made me sick was probably the cold drinks and smoke...then too many peppercorns. But I plan to check on anything described as grouper in other restaurants we go to.

It's just been one of those weeks!!

Le laquet said...

Oh dear lord - bless you! Sounds hellish! Hope you're feeling better :o)

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