Wrestling the Ghost of Jimmy Buffett at Preston Center's Flying Fish

Flying Fish

6126 Luther Ln.

Dude Factor: 8, or Don Knotts, on a scale of 1 (Kevin Costner) to 10 (Ernest Borgnine)

I'd been too long on the turf, dudes, and got the hunger for a little surf. Fish Shack would have done nicely, but no way was I joining the rush-hour salmon run to Plano on a Monday night. Hook, Line & Sinker would have fit the bill, but Other Dude Noah gave that one the business back in June. Time for sushi, right?

No. Of course it's not time for sushi.

Rarely needing rhinestone dog collars or designer faucets, I don't make it to Preston Center all that often, which is the only reason I can offer as to why I'd never wandered into Flying Fish before. The've got their name on a movie marquee outside. Hard to miss.

Anyway, unless an H3 runs me down in the parking lot outside (nearly happened once already), it won't be my last time.

Even for a 'fish shack' style place, there's a real sandals-and-koozie, son-of-a-sailor vibe at Flying Fish. That guy in your family photo with the shin-high tube socks, khaki shorts and the "Co-Ed Naked Trucking" T-shirt? He eats here. Might be a part-owner.

Old fishing photos cover the walls in every direction, except for the three theme walls: the wall of donated Big Mouth Billy Bass, the "Hackberry Creek Anglers Ass." portrait wall, and the "Liar's Wall," which is actually another wall of fishing photos.

They're gunning pretty hard for the 'fish shack' atmosphere, and even though they're a small chain (locally, they're also in Garland, Addison and Fort Worth) it comes across as genuine. The guys behind the counter are friendly, those are real fishing photos on the wall -- not prefab Applebee's flair -- and I'd endure at least two verses of "Margaritaville" for another basket of fried catfish and shrimp like the one they served up Monday night.

There's plenty on the menu -- even omelettes and oatmeal if you're early enough -- but I was there strictly for the basket of fried seafood. Unable to escape all the trappings of Highland Park dining, they do hand out the vibrating, light-up coasters to let you know your order is ready (what is this, Houston's?), but the wait wasn't long.

​The big frosty goblet of draft beer I saw one guy carry back from the counter suggests this is a place that wants you to hang around for a while (as does the big bottle of Cuervo sitting on the display case). A sign hanging from the ceiling says that Wednesdays -- which must be even quieter than the Monday night I dropped by -- the catfish is all-you-can-eat for $11.

The fried catfish wasn't all too greasy, and had a good, thick breading. The shrimp were each about half the size of my piece of catfish. Fish baskets are lined with both fries and hush puppies. I could've done with about half as many of the fries (the limp, soggy half wouldn't be missed), and a few more helpings of the hush puppies, which were excellent but in a tragic sort of short supply (there were three). Probably just as simple as asking at the counter next time.

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