Friday, March 13, 2009
The name alone was reason to check this spot out. HowFresh out the box??? Though after some thought I prefer my fish and shrimp fresh out the sea, fresh out the water, fresh out the tank. Maybe the box is under water. Never the less my namesake and the sneaker reference got me and reeled me in. And Kurious' track sharing the same name served as the theme music as I rolled up.
Located on the south side of 125th Street between Lenox Ave. and 5th Ave., FOTB has been in business for a little more than 2 months. Small walk-in and take out only. 125th St. rents must be up there. But they have a flat screen to make the customer feel at home. The menu states "the best cuisine from Alabama & Charleston, South Carolina" so between Charleston and seafood, this was a no-brainer for me. The proprietor is a real friendly cat, pleasant to everybody that walked in. Of course he's trying to get business but it seemed sincere. He was talking to some dude about almost putting a beating on his niece's boyfriend for some disrespectful shit and the humor was nonstop. He says he's a church man, but somethings just don't cut it. I hear you.
I ordered the whiting dinner with 2 sides for $11. The menu says 4 pieces of fish, but there were more like 8-10. Whiting for days. Chose the mac and cheese and candy yams. Greens are for next time. This plate weighed more than 2 pounds. You cannot beat that for $11- basically 2 meals for a little more than $5 a pop. Definitely great bang for your buck. I'll see if this was an aberration or they're M.O. on my next visit. Seafood is made to order so it takes some time. At least you know it wasn't sitting there. I should note that they paid special attention to packing the tin and keeping the fish isolated from the sides.
The whiting aka croaker is lightly fried in a semi-seasoned batter. They're not trying to overpower the fish here, but let it shine. The fish was moist, light and flaky. Some pieces were a bit fishy, but I feel that whiting usually is. Correct me if I'm wrong whiting-heads. Due to my transient nature, I took it to go and here a little problem developed. The puddle of hot sauce and tartar drowned a couple of pieces of fish removing any sort of crispness and texture. That's fixable and I learned my lesson for next time.
The sides were on point. The mac and cheese was a bit on the bland side, but I can dig that when I'm eating fish in a salty tartar sauce and sweet candied yams. It keeps the tongue honest. The yams were good, a little different, incorporating cinnamon or ginger, or something like that. Something that hit the nasal passage as you ate it. Only criticism is that one or 2 pieces were hard and undercooked.
The place serves breakfast and the fish and grits are sounding real good. When I ate there (2 weeks ago) they had a great recession special going on- $5 for 1/2 a rotisserie chicken, fries and a drink. I wanted the fish but $5 for dinner was sounding really tempting. They have several desserts, but without banana pudding, I had to pass.
Fresh Out the Box is only several blocks away from the flagship 125th fried seafood mecca A Taste of Seafood, so I found it necessary to inquire about the owner's feelings of proximity. He felt that he wasn't competing with them and that they could each live and prosper. The wait was considerably shorter at FOTB (less people) and as mentioned it's to-go only. A good or a bad depending who you talk to. The prices were on average about $2 less than TOSF and in these tough economic times that can definitely work to his advantage. I'd hate to see FOTB follow the same path as Famous Seafood on 125th and Broadway, who shut down shop with the quickness. With nice weather approaching take-out really isn't an issue. With all the Lenox Ave. foot traffic the place should do well. And for all the vegetarians out there, when you're tired of eating pumpkin and tofu chunks at the Uptown Juice Bar, walk about 50 feet toward the west and get your fresh on.
Fresh Out the Box
62 West 125th Street between Lenox Ave. and 5th Ave.
New York, NY 10027
Mon - Thu- 8:30am - 12am
Fri - Sat- 8:30am - 2am
Sun- 11am - 7pm
Subway- 2/3 to 125th Street- walk 100 feet east down south side of 125th St.