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Heaven in a Fryer

By Lora Arduser · April 20th, 2005 · The Dish
I had arranged to meet a friend at the Green Derby (846 York St., Newport, 859-431-8740) for a late lunch. The first to arrive, I was led into one of the several softly lit, small dining rooms and given a menu while I waited -- and waited. The Derby's menu features home-style food with quite a few fried dishes as well as items like pork chops and meatloaf.

The busser checked back with me periodically to see if I needed anything. (In fact, I thought she was my server because she was so attentive.) In a motherly way, she was worried that I was going to starve before my friend arrived. Five minutes past our meeting time, she good-naturedly announced to the half-filled room, "Well, now she's late," and we both decided I needed to dive in all alone.

On her suggestion I started with the Derby Salad ($1.75). A take-off on hot slaw, the salad has shredded lettuce rather than cabbage and is topped with crisp bits of bacon. The warm vinegar dressing hit just the right ratio of sweet-to-sour.

I followed this with the Famous Halibut Sandwich ($8.95). If a restaurant uses the word "famous" in a description, I worry that they feel the need to pile on the fixings to live up to the name. This sandwich, however, was delicious in its simplicity. Lightly breaded and well seasoned, the two logs of flaky halibut were served on rye bed with a side of tartar sauce and chips. It was so unlike the usual sloppy, greasy fish sandwich, I immediately skipped my plan to eat only half and ate it all.

I took meatloaf special ($5.95) and country fried chicken ($5.95) back to the troops at home since I ended up dining alone. The meatloaf didn't rate as well as my fish. Flecked with green pepper and topped with a tomato sauce masquerading as a creole sauce, it didn't elicit more than a shrug. But the mashed potatoes were given the thumbs up.

The country chicken was also a winner. The tender, moist breast was coated, fried and then doused with a peppery, creamy gravy. The potato balls, globes of mash potatoes seasoned and deep-fried, were hellishly good. And the green beans, slow cooked with ham, made us all think of Grandma.

Ensuring we wouldn't be able to move for days, we finished off with homemade coconut cream pie ($1.95) piled high with airy, lightly toasted meringue.



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