Cheryl's Fried Fish & Soul food ... Join us for lunch or dinner at 24 East Main St. in Middletown, NY. Eat in or take out. Call us a 845-343-5565 to order ahead. We do catering. Check out our Catering Menu for the Holidays.

 
 
 
Cheryl Santiago

 

Hudson Valley Magazine

Best of Hudson Valley 2009

Southern-style Takeout; Cheryl’s Fried Fish & Soul Food, Middletown, NY from Best of the Hudson Valley 2009 Magazine

"It’s a small storefront eatery, but Cheryl’s is gaining a big fan club, thanks to made-from-scratch, Southern-style dishes that nix the traditional grease and deliver delicious, home-cooked taste. Favorites for takeout (or you can eat on premises; they have a few simple tables) include Cheryl’s signature fresh fried fish, as well as fried or smothered pork chops, grilled salmon with rice and beans, stewed-down steak, and curried shrimp or chicken. Side dishes — especially the yummy collard greens or cabbage — are splendid, and vegetarians rave about the mac and cheese, yams, and plantains. Plus, the portions are big and the service is friendly. Yum. "

Best of Hudson Valley Winners: 2009

Pick: Editors' Picks

Best of Hudson Valley History:

Best Southern-style Takeout 2009

Hudson Valley Magazine

Cheap Eats — Cheryl’s Fried Fish & Soul Food

The deal: Fried fish and the mini menu

I used to cook big fish fries for fund-raisers for my church in Warwick and make a lot of money,” recalls Cheryl Santiago. “Everyone kept saying, ‘You should do this for a living.’ ” After she lost her job in the entertainment industry because of the faltering economy, Santiago decided to do just that. In 2005, she opened this little cafe, dispensing not just her famous fried fish, but also many of the homey dishes she’s been feeding her family for years.

“I inherited my ability to cook from my grandmother,” Santiago announces. “She was from St. Croix, and she was a fantastic cook. She got up early, took her bath, and cooked all day. I was a big conversationalist, so I’d sit in the kitchen so I’d have someone to talk to. Her skills must have gone into me.”

Grandma’s influence shows up in Caribbean soul food like curried goat and oxtails

Santiago’s husband, Julio, is a contractor who transformed the floorless, empty shell on Middletown’s Main Street into a neat, simple eatery. “I’m passionate about seeing people enjoy my food,” says Santiago. “I’m getting such a diverse group — people come from Poughkeepsie, from Monticello, from every direction.”

Prices are good to begin with, but the new “mini menu” — lighter (but not skimpy) portions of regular menu offerings — has proved a real success. It features the crispy fish sandwich, wings, curried chicken and the like for $5.50, or heartier items like smothered pork chops or barbecued ribs for $7.50.

Cheryls Fried Fish - mini fish plate

Cheryl's Mini-fish plate with mac & cheese and collard greens

Naturally, fried chicken is a big seller. (“Freshly fried when you come,” notes Santiago. “Not sitting for who knows how long — that’s when it becomes greasy.”) Grandma’s influence shows up in Caribbean soul food like curried goat and oxtails. “Oh my goodness, oxtails run out the door — people get four dinners at a time,” Santiago says, explaining her recipe (sort of): “They’re broiled to get the fat off; then they go in the pressure cooker, which tenderizes them; then when they’re almost cooked I do all this other secret stuff.” Sides like mac and cheese and seasoned collard greens “are to die for,” she declares, while the blackened salmon steak ($11 for a full order) has proved a surprising hit with the young crowd. “They can’t get enough of it.”

BY: LYNN HAZLEWOOD PUBLISHED OCTOBER 12, 2009 AT 02:09 PM

Cheap Eats - Hudson Valley Magazine