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Venue Review: Krazy Fish

Plenty to krave at Krazy
Krazy Fish
By "Helen Schwab"
The Charlotte Observer

2501 Central Ave.; 704-332-1004; www.krazyfish.com.

HITS: Shrimp curry and potato cakes, salt-and-pepper wings, fish tacos.

MISSES: Flour tortillas for tacos and “roti” pale beside their fillings.

PRICES: About $7-$19.

HOURS: 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m. daily, with the full menu served until 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 12 Friday-Saturday and an abbreviated late-night menu until 2.

INSPECTION SCORE: 92 March 31.

If Charlotte needs more of anything, it’s krazy with a K. I think we can all agree on that.

So say hello to Krazy Fish, which operates a bit outside the usual Plaza Midwood dining geography (naturally), and comes to us from the interesting mind of K.C. Terry, who you may have last seen at his Fat City Deli in NoDa, before NoDa was … well, NoDa. (It was just “North Charlotte” back in the early ‘90s, for you newcomers.)

Giorgio Prisco is his partner, and, says Terry, “helps me with about anything I do.” Which, given that this is Terry, is an – “eclectic mix,” shall we say?

The menu boasts tacos and pad Thai, ceviche and curry (in several riffs), Southern fried veggies and seafood Creole, with beverages ranging from mojitos to aguas frescas (Latin-style flavored waters).

The venue, once a Pizza Hut and more recently a series of bars, suspends a weird pastiche of sea creature-like forms constructed of just about everything from the ceiling: inflatable stuff, Barbie parts, glitter pipe cleaners, a full-size mannequin-made-mermaid. In pearls, as I recall.A patio bounded by rough-and-tumble metalwork (note the toothy Fish) fronts Central Avenue.

You can get comfortable immediately, with servers who greet and seat quickly, and fellow diners who don’t shy from between-table talk. The staff keeps up a running patter, with servers delivering food to each others’ tables and letting diners peek at things en route.

If you’re the sort who peeks, you’ll notice nearly all portions are enormous, and that tacos sell particularly well: These come filled with fried or poached fish, pulled pork, tofu and a plethora of other possibilities, and a lively mix of salsas/sauces on the side. My tofu with blueberry tamarind chutney was marvelous (though I’d wish for corn tortilla as the default, not flour).

Other standouts among our sampling:

A shrimp curry appetizer of six sizable fried shrimp on a pool of Jamaican-style curry sauce (think a bit sweeter and milder than Indian or Vietnamese versions) with half a dozen golfball-sized potato cakes: delicious nuggets, studded with peas, that went beautifully with the sauce. I’d have this for dinner any night.

A special of salt-and-pepper wings. Think of salt-and-pepper shrimp or squid at a Chinese place and you’ve got the picture: hot, a hint of sweet, peppery, salty all at once. These came with the wings whole, not segmented, and were hideously, gloriously messy. Brilliant.

A three-salsa sampler. I loved the one of roasted arbol chiles (no worries: not very hot) and the verde, with tomatillos and jalapenos (an occasional bite of heat, but not much); the pineapple is more balanced than you’d think, and the gringo is less boring than you’d assume. Wish the chips were a little more corny, but this is fine, and for $4.95, plenty for two or three.

Chicken grill. Note: It’s not just rotisserie chicken, it’s hacked and served with curry sauce and choice of sides (pick the jalapeno cheddar grits souffle! maybe a double-order!). Tender, moist, plentiful.

A brownie with a hint of heat, with vanilla ice cream and … tomatillo sauce.

Less successful:

Neptune’s Platter served up marvelously, lightly fried chunks of fish and a terrific honey wasabi sauce, but too-small, tough shrimp and scallops whose breading sloughed off at a touch.

Those flour tortillas also are used in Krazy Fish’s version of the Indonesian wraps called roti. I’m not a fan.

Maque choux (a sort of corn relish that should be very bright), one night, was a little tinny.

Expect the menu to change seasonally, with the specials list shifting around plenty.

Terry, who got collards and kale planted in the restaurant garden this week, says he’s happy to be between the more settled restaurants of “mainstream” Plaza Midwood and the Asian and Latino places farther out Central. “I fit better somewhere in the middle…. I feel like I’m right back where I should have been the whole time.

“It’s good to be back working with all my old friends.”

Not every dish is an unqualified hit here, but you’ll find some marvelous ones, and you won’t be bored. Bring the Krazy.

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10/13/2011 - The Charlotte Observer - Helen Schwab

From the eclectic mind of K.C. Terry, formerly of Fat City Deli, come some enormous tacos.

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