By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Fried catfish, crawfish and roux at JAG's makes for easy fish on Fridays
03112020 JAGS 1.jpg
The catfish lafitte started out as a special at JAG’s Cafe and Catering, but has become a fixture at the new restaurant because of diner demand. The mix of fried catfish, crawfish and rice has been a hit at the McEver Road restaurant. - photo by Nick Bowman

Angela Garrett, co-owner of JAG’s Cafe & Catering, has no problem flaunting her New Orleans heritage.

01262020 JAGS 2.jpg
Angela and John Garrett serve classic Cajun food like jambalaya and crawfish at JAG's Cafe & Catering, located off of McEver Road in Gainesville. - photo by Kelsey Podo
Most of her days in the restaurant — located behind the Citgo gas station at 3008 McEver Road — are spent attending to a pot of gumbo, mixing up Cajun seasoning and frying catfish.

When Garrett and her husband opened the restaurant a couple of months ago, each day offered a different menu. However, the two soon found out that one of their dishes needed to stay for the long run — JAG’s catfish lafitte.

Like the classic New Orleans catfish lafitte, Garrett lightly fries a catfish filet and places it on a bed of rice. 

“Catfish fries a little different from other fish because it’s so meaty,” Garrett said. “It typically takes a few minutes longer than regular white fish, but it has to be fried to perfection.”

Before presenting the dish to customers, Garrett smothers the catfish and rice with her own special crawfish au gratin. 

To make the sauce, Garrett said she whips up a roux and transforms it into gravy. Chunks of cooked crawfish are added to the mix, she then provides an extra personal touch — a dash of cheddar cheese.

“It’s a combination of a family recipe, then a little kick of my own,” Garrett said. 

JAG’s catfish lafitte offers a textural experience of crunchiness from the catfish and creaminess from the au gratin. All of the ingredients harmonize to create a savory and salty melody of New Orleans.

From start to finish, Garrett said the dish takes her around 30 minutes to prepare. For those wanting to heighten the flavors of their meal, she recommends topping the dish with a bit of hot sauce. JAG’s likes to pair the $18.25 entree with a heaping scoop of potato salad and buttered roll.

Garrett’s daughter, Brittany, said catfish lafitte has always found a place at her family’s dinner table. 

“I grew up eating it,” she said. “We ate like that almost every night.”

Although the Garretts live a long way from Louisiana, their New Orleans flavors aren’t ending up on the back burner any time soon.

03112020 JAGS 2.jpg
Fried catfish smothered in roux and crawfish — the catfish lafitte has gone from one-day special to fixture at JAG’s Cafe and Catering on McEver Road. - photo by Nick Bowman