At one time back in the early years of this millennium, there was a Facebook group of over 1000 people whose primary purpose was to encourage Off Da Chain Seafood & Mo finally to open for business. It was a long wait, but in April, 2018, over a dozen years after Windell Davis found an available old convenience store at the edge of downtown Aiken and painted its name on the side, he finally did open up. In the first couple weeks of business, you hardly could get in the door because of crowds eager to try the curiously named fish house. It still can get mighty busy at lunch hour and on weekend nights, but the hordes today are less about curiosity than about eating some very good seafood … and mo’.
The menu is a broad one, and exactly what’s available varies with the market; but the basic repertoire includes bream, whiting, perch, flounder, mullet, croaker, porgy, tilapia, crab legs, scallops, oysters, and shrimp, as well as pork chops, chicken livers, and gizzards. My go-to dish is fried flounder — thick, moist fillets hugged by a thin batter with nutty richness and vivid spice. It doesn’t get much better than this. On the side, there’s mac ‘n’ cheese in buttery sauce with black-pepper punch; and frequently there are fried green tomatoes. These are terrific tomatoes — a best dish: just barely tart, with slight tooth resistance, encased in crisp, sandy batter. Hush puppies are ok — more about chew than flavor. Other available side dishes include grits, fried okra, corn nuggets, onion rings, and an array of seasoned fries.
A dessert cooler holds compelling sweets, including pineapple/coconut pie, bean pie, and peach cobbler — all of which you want to get heated before they’re served. The portions are modest-size, big on flavor, and definitively homemade.
Service is friendly and enthusiastic, even when the place is overwhelmed by customers. As is true of most really good restaurants, you can be sure the proprietor is on duty overseeing everything and making sure people are happy. Windell Davis is an inspiring success story.
Oh, and by the way, menu listings for fish-frowners include quarter-pound burgers (and double quarter-pound burgers), hot dogs, foot-long dogs, sausage dogs, and corn dogs.