by Angela Perez
Folks, sometimes you gotta go old school – as in fried flounder and shrimp, slaw, green beans, and hushpuppies. Captain Stanley’s in Garner. An old favorite of mine. Lots of little old Southern ladies sittin’ back, all gussied up, sporting bouffant hairdos, and slurping up Brunswick stew and everyone in here is sitting around their tables talking about collards greens and Bojangles chicken and Cousin Joe-Joe is cheating on his wife and how well the grandson is doing over at NC State college (another sign of old-school North Carolinians – they often refer to NC State University as “State College.”) These are my roots. Nothing but Southern accents and turns of phrase from every person in the joint.
Also, new restaurants with Calabash-style seafood, take heed: Southerners firmly believe – demand – a basket of free hushpuppies as soon as you sit down. If you charge extra for hushpuppies, they won’t come back. We are highly suspect of any place that would list hushpuppies as an “appetizer” on a menu and require us to not only order them separately but also have to pay extra for them. A travesty to be sure.
Location: 3333 S Wilmington St., Raleigh but really Garner
Hours: They keep different lunch and dinner hours, depending on the day, closed on Tuesday. Call ahead to check.
Parking situation: excellent BUT this place is slammed all the time and on the weekends the lot stays full
Hipster presence: NONE – Yee haw
But what exactly is Calabash seafood? The name comes from the fishing village of Calabash, North Carolina, known as the “Seafood Capital of the World.” Calabash is on the southeastern NC coast, located near the South Carolina border. Calabash-style includes battered and deep-fried seafood, such as fish, shrimp, crab, oysters, clams, and mussels. Some people, like me, grew up on cornmeal batter but most places these days use a flour batter.
One of the most important elements of the Calabash meal ain’t from a river or the ocean. Hot, crispy deep-fried hushpuppies are equally important. To round out the meal, you’ve got to have coleslaw, Brunswick stew, stewed potatoes and some other vegetables of some kind like green beans or collard greens. Serve that to any old-school Southerner and they’ll be happy as a clam.