Bon Ton Mini Mart Catfish

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Louis
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2011/10/21 16:29:56 (permalink)

Bon Ton Mini Mart Catfish

I just tried a new permanent item at the Bon Ton Mini Mart in Henderson, KY.  Many on this board have tasted and thoroughly enjoyed their unique fried chicken.  Well now they've applied the same technique of chicken preparation to fried catfish--and the result is that--believe it or not--it actually surpasses their fried chicken in sensory overload.
 
It takes a minute for your tongue to get used to it; the flavor creeps up on you.  When I tried it, the first bite was interesting (tasty but slightly bland); the second bite was more interesting (more tasty and not bland at all); by the third bite my tastebuds were overwhelmed with flavor.
 
It is prepared in the same way--immersed for 24 hours in that marinade that makes the Bon Ton fried chicken so unique.  But what makes it even better when this preparation is applied to catfish is its shape.  Whereas the Bon Ton fried chicken usually has rather large pieces in which (sometimes) the marinade doesn't fully penetrate to the core, by contrast, the catfish, which is thin by nature, the marinade not only penetrates to the center, it seems as if it has soaked through several times over.  Five minutes after I had consumed my meal and drank a half-cup of coffee, I could still taste that Bon Ton marinade.  The flavor wouldn't go away.
 
The Bon Ton told me that they would be offering this taste treat on Monday through Thursday from 3 to 7 (when they close), and on Friday from 11 to 7.
 
They also are introducing steak to their evening menu.  I'll have to drop by next week and see what that's all about.
 
#1

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    Foodbme
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    Re:Bon Ton Mini Mart Catfish 2011/10/21 16:52:05 (permalink)
    When I first heard about this place, I thought it was a convenience store chain like Circle K or 7-11. So, I looked it up. Seems to be just one place. Is that correct?
    It gets 5 stars on Urbanspoon and a 100% "Likes it" rating from 23 posters. First time I've ever seen a 100% rating for anyplace on Urbanspoon!
    I guess that all means it's pretty good!
    #2
    Louis
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    Re:Bon Ton Mini Mart Catfish 2011/10/22 16:07:35 (permalink)
    The "mini mart" part of their name is a holdover from when it WAS a convenience store.  When it began in the early 1990s, the proprietors didn't bother to change the name even though it had become a restaurant.
     
    It's just one of those things you'll have to try.  Like several on this board who have been there, you'll become an instant fan after the first mouthful.
     
    #3
    The Travelin Man
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    Re:Bon Ton Mini Mart Catfish 2011/10/24 01:53:33 (permalink)
    I thought this place was closing?
    #4
    The Travelin Man
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    Re:Bon Ton Mini Mart Catfish 2011/10/24 01:53:33 (permalink)
    I thought this place was closing?
    #5
    Foodbme
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    Re:Bon Ton Mini Mart Catfish 2011/10/24 02:32:49 (permalink)
    The Travelin Man

    I thought this place was closing?

    Note this Michael Stern digest from 2008. Apparently someone bought or re-opened it;
    http://roadfooddigest.com/post/2008/04/27/Bon-Ton-News-Alert.aspx
    Maybe Louis, the OP, can give us the Straight Scoop.
    post edited by Foodbme - 2011/10/24 02:35:32
    #6
    Louis
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    Re:Bon Ton Mini Mart Catfish 2011/10/24 08:04:18 (permalink)
    Back in late June 2010 the Bon Ton was all set to close.   On Thursday nocarolina (you remember him--Bob, from Chicago) and I went in there and they were all set to have their final day on Friday.  And on Friday we went in there again to have one last meal.  When we entered the building we learned that the cook--at the very last minute--decided to rent the building and keep the restaurant open.  And it's been running smoothly ever since.  Everyone is happy with the arrangement--including me.
     
    post edited by Louis - 2011/10/24 08:05:20
    #7
    buffetbuster
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    Re:Bon Ton Mini Mart Catfish 2011/10/26 13:32:41 (permalink)
    First time I saw this.....
     
    Louis - You know I have high regard for your taste buds, but better than the fried chicken?  Sorry, but I just can't wrap my head around that.  This sounds like a great reason to find my way back to Western Kentucky for a taste test of my own.  Thanks for the update on this interesting development!  It sounds like things are going well at the Bon Ton Mini Mart
    #8
    Louis
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    Re:Bon Ton Mini Mart Catfish 2011/10/26 19:33:45 (permalink)
    As I said Cliff, the marinade in the catfish was the same as they use in the chicken.  I talked to the cook yesterday, and she said that she's going to revise her recipe a little bit.  The Bon Ton catfish was so powerful that the customers with weak hearts were complaining.  (As I said, it was overpowering.)   So this means I'll have to come back and give you an update on how much she has softened the original recipe.  But I'll tell you one thing: the Bon Ton marinade used in that catfish was in my mouth a half-hour or more after I left the restaurant.
     
    By the way, I tried their 6-oz. steak.  I asked for it medium rare.  It came out well done.  It didn't matter.  That steak had been marinated in worcestershire sauce for 24 hours.  It could have been well-done, rare, or  the lousiest steak in the world, and I wouldn't have noticed.  All I could taste was that worcestershire sauce.  The cook applied the Bon Ton method of chicken preparation to steak, just used a different seasoning.
     
    post edited by Louis - 2011/10/26 19:35:56
    #9
    Louis
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    Re:Bon Ton Mini Mart Catfish 2011/10/27 21:41:40 (permalink)
    I had my second meal of Bon Ton catfish six days after my first.  I was told that the cook had changed the recipe, but found out when I ate it that she had not.
     
    I ordered three pieces of fish.  I could barely finish the second.  The taste was so intense that I had to set aside the third piece for later.  I drank a glass of pure lemon juice that they had in the refrigerator to get the super highly seasoned catfish out of my mouth.  Swallowing that glass of lemon juice was a piece of cake after two pieces of that catfish.  I then had a very intense slice of pecan pie.  That kind of balanced everything out.
     
    While they still intend to tone down the catfish at some point, they may take their time about it.  So my advice is this: if you are attracted to extreme tastes, they have your number.
     
    I was asked by someone (who doesn't like fish) if it tasted fishy.  I said, "What fishy taste?  Heck, no!  My mouth was almost numb with flavor."
     
    #10
    Louis
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    Re:Bon Ton Mini Mart Catfish 2011/11/04 18:18:23 (permalink)
    This afternoon I ate another piece of Bon Ton Catfish, and I think it's safe to say that they have now got the recipe under control to where you can eat it.
     
    They cut the salt in the recipe by half.  Before it was so salty that it was like taking a carton of Morton's Salt out of the cabinet and eating it by the handful like a snack.  It's safe to eat now.
     
    After that last meal I vowed I wouldn't eat it again until they made it enjoyable.  I like salt, but not a mouthful of it.  The problem was that the catfish and the chicken are two separate animals--and particularly in the matter of cooking.  The fish absorbs the Bon Ton solution like a sponge, whereas the chicken does not.
     
    Anyway, I thought I'd better let you know in case you go there.  It's safe to eat once again!
     
    #11
    MetroplexJim
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    Re:Bon Ton Mini Mart Catfish 2011/11/07 16:25:33 (permalink)
    Do they fry the catfish in their BroasterTM?
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    Rusty246
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    Re:Bon Ton Mini Mart Catfish 2011/11/07 16:50:29 (permalink)
    Louis

    I had my second meal of Bon Ton catfish six days after my first.  I was told that the cook had changed the recipe, but found out when I ate it that she had not.

    I ordered three pieces of fish.  I could barely finish the second.  The taste was so intense that I had to set aside the third piece for later.  I drank a glass of pure lemon juice that they had in the refrigerator to get the super highly seasoned catfish out of my mouth.  Swallowing that glass of lemon juice was a piece of cake after two pieces of that catfish.  I then had a very intense slice of pecan pie.  That kind of balanced everything out.

    While they still intend to tone down the catfish at some point, they may take their time about it.  So my advice is this: if you are attracted to extreme tastes, they have your number.

    I was asked by someone (who doesn't like fish) if it tasted fishy.  I said, "What fishy taste?  Heck, no!  My mouth was almost numb with flavor."


    I tried their marinade/brine recipe from this site on chicken and it was waaaay to salty for me and I'm a salt-a-holic.  I will  try it again cutting back on salt, it was juicy though and oh that crust.
     
    #13
    Louis
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    Re:Bon Ton Mini Mart Catfish 2011/11/07 22:21:32 (permalink)
    Metroplex Jim, the Bon Ton deep frys their catfish--like they deep fry everything else there.
     
    Rusty, over the last decade I've discussed with others the merits of the Bon Ton's fried chicken recipe that' is in the Sterns' books.  It always comes out too salty--no matter who tries to duplicate it.  I think the Sterns have an approximation of the recipe, but it's not THE recipe.  The best way to enjoy THE recipe is to go the restaurant and try it.  There is a difference.
     
    #14
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