Monday, July 29, 2019

Best Bets: Cozy Corner Fried Catfish

Posted By on Mon, Jul 29, 2019 at 3:40 PM

click to enlarge Fried catfish at Cozy Corner Restaurant - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Fried catfish at Cozy Corner Restaurant

Since it was Sunday, I decided to go fishing. As in trying the Sundays-only catfish at Cozy Corner Restaurant.

The legendary Memphis barbecue restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. And that’s the only day you can get fried catfish, which comes with two sides, and two slices of white bread.

Until June 23rd, catfish never was sold at the 75 North Parkway location, which opened in August, 1977. Previously, catfish was sold from 1986 to 1988 at another location, Cozy Corner Catfish and Ribs, which now is closed.

That catfish recipe came from Cozy Corner founder, the late Raymond Robinson. The family doesn’t have his original recipe, but they know what was in it. And those who are old enough remember how Robinson’s fried catfish tasted. As general manager Bobby Bradley told me, “It’s not 100 percent, but we tried.”

You can order two-piece or three-piece plates at Cozy Corner. I chose the three piece. The pieces were large and tasty. I really liked the seasoning, which has a good salty - but not overly salty - taste.

Someone told me about adding hot sauce to fried catfish about 20 years ago at a fish fry in Mississippi, I believe. I’ve been adding it ever since. They do have little packets of my favorite, Louisiana Hot Sauce, at Cozy Corner, but you really don’t need it.

I had to try some of Cozy Corner’s barbecue sauce on the catfish. I wasn't sure if that was the best combination, so I asked Cozy Corner matriarch Desiree Robinson to try a bite  of the fish with the barbecue sauce. “It was OK,” she told me.

Her grandson, Sean Robinson, also tried a bite. His response: “It was better than I expected it to be.”

Which means you might not want to add barbecue sauce to your fried catfish.

If you want Cozy Corner fried catfish, but you just have to have barbecue and don’t want to get a sandwich, ribs, Cornish game hen, or whatever else is on the menu, you can settle for the barbecue spaghetti, which is one of the sides that comes with the catfish.

Getting to dine with Desiree, who is Raymond Robinson’s widow, was an extra bonus. People kept stopping at the table to say hello to her.

Desiree told me she and her husband used to have fish every Friday. They had catfish, but not every week. They had “every kind of fish,” she says. “I remember it was excellent.”

Desiree told me she majored in commercial dietetics at Tuskegee. But, she says, “I didn’t know I was going to marry a man who cooked better than me.”

She recalled the time she was going to cook dinner, but Raymond stopped her. “He wanted to do it. He said, ‘I love to cook. Cooking relaxes me.’”

So, Desiree says, “I tried to keep him relaxed for the rest of his life.”

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