Catfish is the reason to eat at Middendorf’s. It is sold thick or thin. Thick catfish is a meaty cross-section of fish, similar to a steak wrapped in breading. It is sweet-smelling and has resounding vim that is unlike any seawater fish. Thin catfish is more elegant than thick. Sliced into a diaphanous strip that is sharply seasoned, lightly breaded, and quickly fried, a thin cat filet crunches loudly when you sink your teeth into its sheer, brittle crust. It is mild-flavored and benefits greatly from a dip in the horseradish hot sauce provided.
After catfish, most seafood on the menu is worth eating, especially broiled oysters, which come topped with a zesty, buttery barbecue sauce. There are sautéed soft-shelled crabs, po-boy sandwiches, and Italian salads loaded with olives and spice. And there is fried seafood of all kinds: not only freshwater catfish, but butter-rich fried oysters and brittle-crusted shrimp as well.
Middendorf’s is casual, noisy, and theme-park fun. Even with more space added next door to the original restaurant, a wait can be expected at suppertime, especially on weekends.