One of Kentucky’s beloved chef Ouita Michel restaurants, Smithtown Seafood lives up to the reputation built by its proprietor, who firmly believes in the local movement. (Her eight restaurants have purchased almost $3 million worth of Kentucky-grown meats, dairy, and produce).
There are two Smithtown Seafood locations in Lexington. We went to the one on West Sixth, which is connected to West Sixth brewery. They’ve got a nice setup where you can order at Smithtown, then sit at the brewery next door, with no pressure to order a beer. (But if you’re in the mood, you should. The porter is especially delicious.)
Onto the food. We started with chubby artichoke fritters, which are slightly cheesy and a little stringy, served with a smoky tomato ranch. Next, Buffalo catfish bites: tender catfish with a soft breading and spicy Buffalo sauce. You didn’t even need the ranch here, but you’d do well to follow a bite with one of Pops’ pickles.
For a main course, there are a ton of options, including gluten-free and vegan plates. But if you’re like me, you head straight for fish ‘n’ chips. The West Sixth beer batter–dipped cod is tender and juicy on the inside, with the thinnest, crispiest breading. It has just enough crunch for texture, but does not overpower the flavor of the fish. There are many fun dipping sauce options — from horseradish cocktail to harissa mayo to chili lime yogurt. But you don’t need them. The fish shines on its own.
Lightly salted, golden brown fries come with everything, and thank goodness: They’re that addicting texture that lives between soft and crunchy. We also ordered the Singapore shrimp wrap, and though it was good, it just didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the food. All you really need is catfish bites and the fish ‘n’ chips.
The restaurant is in what’s called the Bread Box, home to a roller derby practice rink and Smithtown’s non-profit partner FoodChain. Smithtown gets many of its greens, herbs, and tilapia from the urban farm, and donates to help their mission to teach the community about sustainable food.
It’s one of those good-food, feel-good kind of places.