by Steven Doyle
The Flying Fish looks and feels like it has been in business since the post war era but in fact Shannon Wynne designed and opened his first casual seafood restaurant in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2002. The Flying Fish serves catfish, shrimp, oysters, crawfish and other seafood. Wynne expanded the restaurant throughout North Texas with locations in Addison, Dallas, Garland, Fort Worth, and Arlington. There is also a location in Memphis, Tennessee. All equally as tacky as the very first location in the land of Clinton’s, but so much more savory.
You know Wynne, he is the local restaurant genius behind the Flying Saucer, Meddlesome Moth, and Mudhen to name a few. Back in his early years it was 8.0, Nostromo, Rio Room, Rio Room, Mexico, Palermo, and Rocco Oyster Bar. You may recall Tango and the Six Frogs over Greenville, this was actually an homage to his father who was responsible for Six Flags Over Texas. Those frogs still exist, but are sadly mounted atop a fast food Mexican restaurant on the same real estate as Tango on Greenville.
History is fun, but lunch is far tastier. The Flying Fish is steeped up in a bit of history itself with Wynne piecing together a bit of whimsy from his childhood, days visiting his family lake house and dining in fish houses very similar to what the modern day Flying Fish looks like.
This means catfish, grilled redfish, fried shrimp, frog legs, oysters, gumbo and crawfish. All these are featured luminaries on the Flying Fish menu and more You may dine as healthily as you wish, or be a bit more decadent with one of the many fried options.
A solitary streaming thread that flows throughout a Wynne restaurant is sourcing. The oysters on the half shell are from the Gulf of Mexico. Primarily, farmed off the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts. The same goes for our fried oysters. This means a healthier, cleaner oyster.
They serve Brown Shrimp which is caught in the same regions.
Most of the grilled fish are from the United States, but the Red Snapper and Grouper which are caught in the waters of South & Central America. The Grouper is also occasionally caught off the coast of Florida and the Mid-Atlantic states.
The catfish is farm raised in Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. This is huge news in a day when many restaurants are passing off swai as catfish. Swai is an unhealthy fish caught in Vietnam, and my Vietnamese friends will not even eat the fish. Read up on the fish here.
The menus vary from location and we sampled the fare several times from the Preston Center Flying Fish in preparation for this story where they also serve breakfast, and specifically a wonderful andouille sausage breakfast taco (pictured above), a magnificent taco heavy laden with the sausage, scrambled eggs and cheese and served with borracho beans. Pancakes, omelets and a traditional American breakfast items are served wherever you find a Flying Fish.
The large attraction at Flying Fish is of course the seafood, and you will be hard pressed not to find your favorite among the mix. If hungry there are a few items not to miss including the crawfish chowder and the grits and and gumbo. The latter is exactly as it reads, a bowl of grits smothered in gumbo for a hearty rib sticking bite.
Catfish is king at this restaurant but there are choices. Forget tilapia, it holds place along with swai as far as nutrition value is concerned. But look for the rainbow trout, grouper, red snapper and more.
Our favorite platter is the Hog Wallow Fry with 2 catfish filets, 4 shrimp, six oysters and slaw. Enough for any grown man to be happy with life and lunch.
Flying Fish is very family friendly and has menu items to prove this point. The kids will also enjoy the large Billy Bass collection featured on the walls. Note that this is also a place to adopt out your lonely and wholly unused Billy Bass you received as a gag gift Christmas of ’97. Do not despair, the rubber fish have been relieved of their batteries.