Lately we have been visiting the land beyond Lake Bluff. We try to go around lunch time to get to know people and learn about the local situation first hand.
In the former Kentucky Fried Chicken location, JJ Fish and Chicken opened in the last few months. We stepped in recently for a quick lunch before a meeting. First off, dining in this establishment is not expected. There were 4 or 5 folding chairs available for people to wait for their food. No picnic benches outside.
We ordered large Jumbo Shrimp and Fried Oyster Dinners which included coleslaw, bread, packaged as well as homemade sauces. After consulting the cook, I was advised the oysters had just arrived and still frozen, could I select something else. I shifted my order to catfish, instead.
While waiting for our order to cook, I started to read the menu in earnest. Fish dinner choices are: ocean perch, white fish (Lake Superior), Buffalo, Jack Salmon (Whiting) - I had never heard of J.S. before, Shrimp, oysters. Catfish had several subcategories: Catfish, Catfish fillets, Catfish tails and Catfish Nuggets. Family meals - ok, in Chinese restaurants they have family meals for 2, 4, 6 -- how many people can you feed when your family meal has 100 pieces of Catfish or Ocean Perch for $93.90? Add $3.99 with your order to include coleslaw, fries and bread - family size.
Chicken also came in various categories: nuggets, tenders, gissards and wings. On their take out menu, they had a price for 200 wings for a mere $83.57. Friday night special: 100 wings, large fries, 2 loaves of bread and 2 liter pop for $45.29. How many people are we feeding here? On a more modest scale, they offer chicken gissards, 3 wings, fries and pop for $4.70.
Some sides are: spaghetti, cole slaw, okra, hush puppies, ect. Desserts: cheesecake, peach cobbler, banana pudding, cake and butter cookies. I wonder if the cookies are Salerno.
When we got our meal, we set up three chairs: two for ourselves and one to share as a table. In my take out container, I had at least 5 fillets. Ultimately, it was lunch for me and dinner for 3 later in the evening from this one order. The catfish had a crust dominated by cornmeal and pepper, which tasted fine as-is. They had commercially packaged sauces as well as an apparently homemade vinegary-peppery sauce, which was hotter than I like. My companion's jumbo shrimp was very large and quite good. He was offered the same range of sauces. Coleslaw was nothing to write home about. Fries were fries. Of course, they had the wonder-ish white bread, which was never eaten.
When I did have the catfish for dinner, I made a tartar sauce to go with it as well as a cocktail sauce. IF I were on my way home, then I would buy the fish by the piece, probably 12 pieces, and provide my own sauces and sides.
I do need to check out the desserts as well as the hush puppies and okra.
South of JJ's on Sheridan Road is another Fish and Chicken take-out shack, I believe it is call Mama's. They claim to offer "southern" cooking.
What we have noticed in our tour of North Chicago food vendors, quantity is held in high esteem.
JJ's suggests phoning in your order for faster service. I would recommend doing this because everything is made to order, which means during a busy period there could be a wait.
They claim to have Chicago locations, has anyone heard of them?
JJ Fish and Chicken
1606 N sheridan Road
North Chicago, IL 60064
Tel: 847/473-2411 or 2412
Mon-Thurs 10 AM - Midnight
Friday-Sat: 10 AM - 2 AM
Sunday: 11 AM - 11 PM
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