You judge restaurants for what they are.
You don’t put a pizza joint up against a steakhouse, or a bar and grill against a French bistro. Corky Bell’s is an inland seafood place with a lot of fried food, and steaks on the menu, too.
As such, it’s not bad. But it’s not the best fried seafood in town.
It’s average food, with a couple of bright spots and some low ones, too. But they’ve usually got a pretty good crowd, so clearly there are people who disagree with me.
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The Riverside Parkway restaurant is a bit of an amalgamation, a sit-down restaurant in fast-food surroundings. Because of that, it’s not quite comfortable to eat there. I felt a little out-of-place.
They have the basics: Fried shrimp and catfish, broiled scallops, blackened fish, crab legs and your basic vegetable and starch sides. Just about everything comes with hush puppies, and sour cream for the baked potatoes comes in those white triangle packets.
They have sandwiches for lunch, mostly fried fish, oyster po’ boys and the like. I had a blackened white fish sandwich that came on thick white bread with lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce. It was fine. I ordered it with good cheese grits and unsurprisingly disappointing green beans.
I had the $4 key lime pie for dessert. It was not awesome.
They have takeout, which moves pretty quickly. I’m going to describe the dinner I had, and I want you to guess the menu price.
Two crab cakes with collards, battered fries and hush puppies. A drink is not included. The crab cakes are huge, but they’re a lot of breading.
OK, got a price in your head?
Is it $17.95?
The fries were OK, though they tasted like fried catfish and whatever else had been frying that day. The collards far exceeded my low expectations, and might be the best thing I’ve found on the menu.
They were quite good, and this is a town full of people who can cook collards.
The crab cakes were the largest I’ve ever seen and they were tasty. But, again, they had an awful lot of breading. The cocktail sauce served on the side was spicy. Real spice.
I’m not a big eat-mediocre-seafood-175-miles-from-the-ocean guy. I didn’t try the steaks, and Corky Bell’s is pretty well known around town. So please consider that I may be missing something, but I can’t recommend it.
I’m going with 2 1/2 stars, though it leans toward two stars, not three.
Corky Bell’s Seafood & Steak
Address: 103 Riverside Parkway
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday,; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday,; noon to 10 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday
Price range: Lunches, $8 to $13, dinners, $9 to $40. Most meals fall in the $15 to $20 range.
Payment: Cash, credit
Alcohol: Beer and wine
Kids Menu: Yes
Noise Level: Medium
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Health Rating: 100