WREN – The Friendship House has again been featured in a national food magazine, “Taste of the South.” The restaurant, owned by Doug and Stephania Fowlkes, was chosen as one of nine catfish restaurants in the southeast.
“The lady who was doing the article called, and Doug answered the phone. She asked if he was the owner. He said he and his wife were the owners, but he said he really worked for me,” said Stephania. “She told Doug that in a survey the name, The Friendship House, kept coming up that we were one of their top picks for catfish.”
The Friendship House was opened in 1983 by Fowlkes' parents, Jimmie and Bill Miles. The Miles' had opened another restaurant in 1950 called Jimmie's Fish House in an old house directly behind Cotton Gin hill. That restaurant sold chicken, fish and steak. A fish plate cost $1.25 at that time. They moved the restaurant to Amory in the 1960s, and Jimmie got into the wholesale farm-raised catfish business as a distributor in 1969.
In 1983, they built Bill and Jim's Restaurant out close to where they lived off Coontail Road in Wren. When they decided to retire in 1997, the Fowlkes' bought the restaurant.
This is not the first time The Friendship House has been featured in magazines or in newspapers. Several years ago, “Southern Living” published a feature story on the restaurant.
When asked what the difference was between The Friendship House's catfish and the myriad of catfish restaurants in the area, Fowlkes said it is fresh, fresh, fresh food.
“I guess catfish is the best seller. We use only the freshest fish. We use peanut oil for frying and do not let the oil get dark,” she said. “We never meal our fish ahead of time. It is breaded in cornmeal when an order is placed.
“We also hand bread our seafood. Rarely is anything cut up in advance. Our baked fish is a big item in the restaurant, and we have plain and cornmeal baked fish.”
Stephania wants give credit where it was due for the restaurant's successful baked fish. She said Joyce Householder, who was a cook at the time, along with Stephania's mother helped perfect the baked fish. She said one of the secrets is the restaurant does not use anything except Sunflour cornmeal.
“We have homemade desserts, and our hushpuppies are made fresh every day,” Stephania said. “We don't keep leftover hushpuppy batter. If any is left over, we throw it out.”
Stephania's grandmother, Eva Chloe Doster Cole, taught her how to cook. The apple cake recipe is her grandmother's recipe.
1 box Duncan Hines butter recipe cake mix
Cook according to direction on box for a 2-layer cake.
1 box of dried apples, cook according to directions and set aside and sweeten with one cup sugar
Make a sauce of the following:
1 can Eagle Brand milk
1 stick real butter
Place milk and butter in saucepan and cook on medium to medium high heat until it reaches a caramel color. Set aside and let it cool a little.
Place one cake layer on plate or cake stand
Spoon 1/2 of apples on top. Spoon 1/2 of sauce on top of apples. Repeat layers of cake, apples and sauce. Don't worry if it runs down sides. It will make a better cake.
Catfish fillet, roll in Sunflour corn meal and sprinkle with salt. Use sprinkle with lemon pepper or Cajun seasoning. Drizzle with melted butter. Cook in prepared baking sheet in a 400-degree oven until done.