Recently, the well-regarded but excitable Center for Science in the Public Interest labeled Long John Silver's new entree item "the nation's deadliest restaurant meal."
The chain's Big Catch is a large fillet of "sustainably harvested" haddock, hush puppies (balls of seasoned cornbread) and a side dish.
The consumer-advocacy group sponsored lab tests that showed the Big Catch contains "33 grams of trans fat ... (and) 19 grams of saturated fat ... and nearly 3,700 milligrams of sodium." The CSPI chose onion rings for its side dish, not the optional french fries, corn, green beans, rice or coleslaw.
The version of the Big Catch the CSPI had tested sure didn't originate in California. We know that because in January 2010 California became the first state to ban restaurants from preparing their offerings using "oil, margarine and shortening containing trans fat." Trans fat is another name for unsaturated fat containing trans-isomer fatty acid, which has been linked to the increased risk of coronary artery disease. A number of cities in a handful of states followed California's lead.
Bottom line: Diners in California can at least erase concerns over the CSPI's "33 grams of trans fat" finding.
As for actually eating the Big Catch: We thought the fish we tasted was way oversalted, but the steaming-hot fillet was moist and flaky, jacketed in a thin, crunchy coating. It's $4.99 while supplies last; www.ljsilvers.com.