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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hattie J's - American food in Trotwood

  A couple of times last year I drove past a place on Main Street in Trotwood, and saw that someone was renovating it.  Now I see that it has opened as a restaurant called Hattie J's.  For some reason I was expecting hot gumbo or cajun food - possibly because it says "Louisiana style ribs" on the door.  However, the focus is really American.

  This is not a fancy place.  It is basic and clean.  While I was there eating, several people came in, but they got takeout.  I got the feeling that a good number of the clients are looking for something they can grab quickly and go, yet have a meal that seems home cooked.

  The setup is really more like a Subway than a sit down restaurant.  You move along and tell them what you want, and they quickly get it for you.  You don't have dozens of choices - there are about 9 total, including the sides.  I guess you could argue that this is a lot smaller selection than is typical, but I suppose it is better to do a great job on a few things than to try many and not excel at any of
them.  To be fair, the cook says he will cook to order in about 12 minutes, so if you like something a little different, you can get it that way.  The food is prepared and waiting under a warming lamp for people to come in and take it out.  Since I hate waiting, I like this setup.  By the way, they are currently open to 8pm, not 9pm as it still says on their menu.

  I decided to try a double order of the swai, which is a type of fish I had never heard of before.  I also had green beans and a sort of "california medley" (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower) for my two sides.  The green beans were buttery and enjoyable, while the veggie blend needed a bit of salt and pepper.  I enjoyed the double order of swai enough that I purchased a third fillet, after which I was quite full.  It turns out that swai is also known as "iridescent shark" in southeast Asia.  What?!?  Did I just eat shark?  It turns out that no, it is actually in the "shark catfish" family.  In other words, it is a catfish which looks a little bit like a shark.  Anyway, I love catfish, and so it is no wonder that I liked this fish.  The breading wasn't too heavy, and it was not overcooked or too greasy.  While these are farmed fish, adults in the wild can reach up to 4 feet in length.  I would personally enjoy pulling one of those four footers in with a pole!

  The owner and cook, Standford Nelson, told me that the restaurant has been open for about 7 months now.  Back in 1974 he opened a restaurant shortly after moving back to the area, so this is his second time as an eatery proprietor.  He decided to open Hattie J's after retiring last year.  I also asked about an ice cream bar that I saw inside the restaurant, and was told it would be up and running once the weather has warmed up a bit more.

  If you like fish, then come by and try the swai! (marinated pork chops are pretty good, too)

Hattie J's
846 E. Main Street
Trotwood, Ohio 45426
Telephone: (937) 837-1212
hours: 11-8 every day except Thursday, when they are closed
note: Entertainment Book online has a "buy 1 menu item, get one free, up to $6 value" coupon

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