Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants. The Blade pays for critics' meals.
Fat Fish Blue opened its doors about five years ago, reviving the Cajun food scene in the Toledo area, after several other restaurants failed to sell area patrons on the spice-heavy dishes featured on Cajun and Creole menus. Part of a small chain, the Toledo restaurant has proved it has staying power, despite the closure of the Cleveland location in December, 2012.
On our two visits, we found the place to be lively and overall the food was good. We started the first of our visits with the hush puppies ($2.99). The little fried balls of cornmeal were crisp, fluffy, well-seasoned and served with a side of tangy remoulade. We also sampled the buffalo tails. The battered crawdad meat was deep-fried and tossed in hot sauce.
The big pot creations, big daddy's gumbo ($5.59 small) and the mumbo jambalaya ($5.59 small), weren't truly New Orleans style, but were still good. The jambalaya was loaded with tender chicken swimming in a creamy tomato base. The peppery gumbo could have used more okra and the roux could have been thicker.
While Creole and Cajun food is well seasoned and spicy, it seemed as if Fat Fish Blue over-compensated with the seasoning to make up for the inauthentic dishes. For example, our hush puppies, kid's chicken tenders($5.95), shrimp (Mess o' shrimp basket $17.99) and JR's crab cakes ($19.99) all tasted the same: like a can of seafood seasoning exploded in the kitchen.
Crab meat is naturally salty and once mixed with the additional herbs and spices, the patties were overwhelming. The accompanying mobile relish, similar to a corn salsa, softened the thin layer of crunchy coating, leaving the cakes wet and soggy.
We also sampled the blackened catfish ($13.99), a seared fillet, beautifully seasoned with a peppery cajun spice and served with steamed vegetables and house rice.
As you'd expect, Fat Fish Blue isn't particularly a vegetarian-friendly joint, and what's meatless isn't exactly light: wild mushroom ravioli ($16.99), fried green tomatoes, ($5.99) and delta dip ($6.99), a black bean dip with sour cream and cheddar.
The less complicated choices were the real winners during our meals. We loved Sister Mofo's mac n cheese ($2.99 as a side). The dish is a neat variation on an old staple and features thick radiatore pasta smothered in a rich, creamy white cheese sauce, baked and sprinkled with crumb topping. The menu says the dish includes andouille sausage, but we didn't notice any in our side sample.
The sweet potato fries were a welcomed change compared to french fries. They were sprinkled with sugar and served with a creamy glaze on the side.
The barbecue ribs ($13.99 half slab) weren't special. The meat was tender, but not well seasoned and the ribs were slathered in the same light and sweet barbecue sauce used on the pulled pork platter ($12.99).
We skipped dessert as we were too stuffed to eat another bite. For sweetness, the restaurant offers cinnamon roll bread pudding, peanut butter pie, cobbler and ice cream, and carpetbagger.
Service was fair. Our waiters were friendly and attentive, but were slow checking on us. The atmosphere is a cross between casual dining and night club. Local and a few national musical acts play on the stage in the center of the restaurant. The Mardi-gras like decor gives the place a fun feel.
The small dining tables were uncomfortable for our party and seemed like they belong inside the comedy club the restaurant shares its space with. We found ourselves using nearby tables to discard items and create space at our table. The restaurant can become noisy and crowded before and after the comedy shows.
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Fat Fish Blue
Address: 6140 Levis Commons Blvd., Perrysburg
Hours: 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 1 to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average Price: $$-$$$
Credit Cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.
Web site: fatfishfunnybonetoledo.com
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