Van Horn Sandwich Shop has received a lot of press since opening a year ago for its buttermilk-fried chicken and Sweet P.L.T.—a vegetarian take on a traditional B.L.T. in which smoked sweet potato stands in for the standard bacon to surprisingly addictive effect.
But for my money, the best thing on the menu is the Fish Sandwich, in which cornmeal-dredged catfish gets lightly fried to create a crisp seal around the soft, flaky meat. After that, it's topped with a tangy slaw, sweet pickles and nuzzled between two squooshy buns that have been smeared with tartar sauce. The combination of crunchy, soft and creamy makes for a satisfying bite all the way through. So much so, that you're likely to leave your side salad behind as an after thought.
Not far down Court Street, Watty & Meg also serve a Wild Fish Sandwich on their lunch menu. But the chef has flipped the textural switch, deciding to pan-sear the market fish of the day and serve it on a crunchy split foccacia with raw onion, lettuce and their own tangy house tartar. So once again, you have contrasting experiences inside of your mouth—but not in the way you perhaps are used to.
Is one necessarily better than the other? They're so different, it's hard to decide. But I will say that there wasn't a French fry left on the plate at the latter restaurant.