2/06/2013 10:50:00 AM

First Bites: Catfish Brings Cajun to Crown Heights

Despite the ice, snow, and freezing temperatures outside on a recent night, the barstools and low banquettes of Catfish filled up with locals, something that has been happening most evenings since the new Cajun joint opened about a month ago.

Owners Lucas Wheeler, Aaron Giroux, and Max Colson have been drawing this crowd to their cozy spot in Crown Heights by dishing out cheap plates of piping hot Southern-inspired eats, something that's not widely available in the up-and-coming neighborhood.

“We felt like the hood needed a place like this,” said the red-bearded Wheeler, who handles the food side of the restaurant and comes to the new hood via Dumbo's Rebar. His small and simple menu is displayed on a mini clipboard, with many of the main courses featured po’boy-style or on a bed of fluffy white rice. Choose from the superbly spicy blackened catfish, smoked andouille sausage or their tender plate of nine-hour cooked beef, all available for under $15.

They also serve fresh oysters, and, starting this week, Wheeler will add Cajun classics like shrimp and grits, jambalaya and shrimp Creole to the menu. Brunch is coming up as well, with menu items leaning toward the French side of Cajun cooking. Expect pain perdu, Bananas Foster pancakes, croque monsieur and a special “voodoo” Bloody Mary mix.

Catfish at Catfish
On the bar side, Giroux has taken charge and presents 16 taps of craft beer like Abita Purple Haze, Left Hand’s Fade to Black and Peak Organic Winter. For cocktails, they mix a traditional Sazerac, Pimm’s Cup, and Hurricanes, which are served alongside a healthy array of whiskeys, ryes, and bourbon.

The one downside to this rustic spot is the hours - they close at midnight on the weekdays and 1 AM on the weekends. Colson and Girou suspect they weren't granted a late-night license due to their inexperience in opening a restaurant (it’s the first for all three) and their age (the youngest of the bunch is 23).

It's also in a residential area, so the lack of late-night raging is no surprise. But shortened hours are better than none and thus far, the boys of Catfish continues to draw a healthy crowd just by maintaining solid food, good, inexpensive drinks, and a relaxed, comfortable vibe. Don’t be surprised if the table next to you erupts into song when Sublime comes on the stereo, it’s just that kind of place.

The Details: 1433 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, New York; 347-305-3233; catfishnyc.com

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