The White Spot (aka “Skinny’s”)1701 Rogers Ave. Fort Smith, AR 72901 479.783.9345
There are times in any life when one must take a stand. Believe in something. Speak your mind. Make a difference. Speak truth to power.
This, dear friends, is one of those times.
The time is ripe for you to hear this good news:
Once a week, a small unpretentious diner hidden away in Fort Smith, Arkansas, serves for its patrons the food of the gods. That’s right, we said Food Of The Gods.
The restaurant is The White Spot.
The night is Friday night.
The food is catfish.
Catfish? You ask, incredulous, distrusting your eyes, wondering if you read that right. At The White Spot?
Catfish, we say with reverence and awe, our eyes glazing over at the fond memory. Yes. At The White Spot.
The White Spot, as any lifelong Fort Smithian will tell you, is one of those quaint hole-in-the-wall joints that has always been there and never much changes because it never needs to, since people keep coming. But something changed a while back. The way we hear tell, a fella goes by Skinny bought the place in the past year or so, and though the diner’s still the diner every other time, he started Friday Night Catfish. That’s why the old White Spot sign now says Skinny’s on top in neon. We don’t know where Skinny came from or how he got his name or what he looks like or how much he weighs, but we do know the man knows catfish. We’re giving him the credit since his name is the one in neon.
We wandered in with some friends just cuz one Friday night a month or two ago, truth be told. Never eaten dinner there before, but hey, we’ve got a blog now, must research food. No regular menu tonight, they told us. It’s Friday Night Catfish. That’s all anyone wants anyway, they said.
Well, we’ll have it then. Dish us up a few plates, please.
We’re enormous catfish fans, and thus pretty durn picky. Catfish is easy to do good and very very hard to do great. What was so impressive about the catfish we had at Skinny’s? It was all-out great.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, the set-up. If you don’t come from catfish territory, you might not know certain traditional trimmings are served with it. They are:
- Tartar sauce
- Pinto beans
- Dill pickles
- Green tomato relish
- Red onions
Most places offer some combination of these. It’s hard to find a place that has them all. It’s harder to find a place that does them all well.
We had guests with us, so we got the “set-up” served family style. Comes automatically with the dinner. Soon after we put in our order, out comes all this:
The beans were just right. Salty and smoky, but not too. The slaw was a fresh and crunchy, just a hint of sweetness.
We savored and hoarded and fought over the bowl of tender hushpuppies, hot and crispy on the outside, moist sweet-corn tasting on the inside. Only after we’d eaten our fill and the waitress asked if we needed more did we realize we didn’t have to be so stingy with them. We could have eaten three bowls. Each.
The catfish comes in either a dinner portion or all-you-can-eat for a few dollars more. With all the fixin’s, the 4-piece dinner portion was all-we-could-eat. But oh could-we-eat-it.
Crispy. Steaming inside, flaky. Fresh. Tasting of catfish, not of fish, if you know what we mean. Not a bad taste in the bunch. Fried in cornmeal batter that clings to the fish without crumbling off. Salty, but once again not too salty. Piled atop home-cut French fries that were excellent examples of that sort of fry (Actually not our favorite, we oddly prefer the horribly processed crinkle-cut fries. Blame our crinkle-cut childhoods.).
We tried the catfish with the tartar sauce. Perfection. We tried it with a bite of the green tomatoes. Beautifully Southern. We tried it with the red onion. Still great. Who knows. Maybe this catfish could have been eaten in conjunction with anything (Ketchup? Peanut butter? Chocolate? Crème de Menthe?) and still be incredible. We wouldn’t put it past it. (We’ll just stick to tartar and relish for now, though.)
We and our companions rolled out of the booth, paid the slight bill for our group (under $10 per dinner) and dragged our happy tummies out the front door and into the night knowing we had happened upon something special. We all concurred. This was a find. This was almost more than a meal. This might become a serious habit.
It’s only offered once a week, which makes it a bona-fido Event. We can get behind that.
So you heard it here, folks: Friday Night Catfish at The White Spot. Be there. Food of the gods.