I always seek a local 'gourmet' restaurant when traveling.  Chain restaurants never!  I'd never heard of a 5-star rated catfish restaurant until I arrived in Russellville, AR.  My local research led me to Brown's Catfish restaurant 1804 E. Main.

There it was. Everybody who'd eaten there had given it a 5-star review on Yelp.

And gourmet it was.  On the lunch menu our attention was immediately drawn to Al's Catfish Po' Boy. It is a mouthwatering treat just to read its ingredients on the menu:  Catfish, Creole cole slaw, fried green tomatoes, jalapeno-pepper spiked 'angry' tartar - remoulade on a classic roll.

Green tomatoes?  Is that a side, we asked?  "No. It and the cole slaw is on the sandwich.  The side is French fries."  That caused us to let out a silent, but collective 'WOW!' to ourselves.  "We'll take that and unsweetened ice tea with lemon."

When the waitress left, we discussed green tomatoes on a sandwich.  Al came by and we inquired where he developed such a 'concoction' for a catfish sandwich.

"That's the way we used to eat 'em down in Louisiana when I was growing up, so I started it here," he explained, adding he first opened the restaurant 24 years ago,but has remodeled recently and he's now opening for lunch.

He has numerous cajun specialities from back home and offers a large buffet at dinner. Anyone passing with 50 miles of Russellville should visit the laid back, comfy little southern town of Russellville where the mayor has a monthly coffee with the citizens in city hall and council agendas are posted on the web for all to see - proud of their transparency.

Home of the state's only nuclear power plant, Russellville is also the home of Arkansas Tech University. It is the county seat of Pope Co. and has a population of only about 27,500 people with only 6,182 living in the city.

There are always residents of note in these little burgs.  In Russellville's case notables include Scott Bradley, an American composer noted for his works in Tom & Jerry cartoons; Russellville high graduate, actress Natalie Canerday who played in Sling Blade, October Sky, Walk the Line; Jeff Davis, thrice-elected governor and later U.S. Senator; and Brooks Hays, U.S. representative and adviser to both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.

To the notables, I have to add Al Brown and his catfish restaurant. For more information go to http://www.browns-catfish.com.

© 2011, Tidewater News Service. All rights reserved.

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