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No Pan WV Road Trip: Coleman’s Fish Market

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“I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, and a third time to make sure.” – Mae West

My only real request for this trip was to see the Palace of Gold. The rest was up to my folks. My mother thought we should check out TripAdvisor’s #1 restaurant in Wheeling, the world-famous Coleman’s Fish Market.

I  said ok, even though I really don’t like fish, and the thought of eating at a fish market conjured up a picture in our family vacation scrapbook of me as a kid in Ocean City, Maryland, sitting outside a fish restaurant, fishing nets as the backdrop, pinching my nose at the smell.

Thankfully, as we approached the fish market, I realized that my fears were unfounded. Coleman’s Fish Market is nestled between the first and second buildings of the historic Center Market in Wheeling, WV. You can walk around the outside of the building or go through the center to view all of the little artistry shops, bakeries, and restaurants. (I recommend this route!)

Realizing that I wasn’t a fish-eater, my mother worried that I wouldn’t find anything to eat. I figured that almost every place sells chicken, fish market or not, and if things got really dire, there’s always French fries.

Looking at the menu, I was amazed by all of their offerings from their specialty: a classic fish sandwich to more . . . exotic foods. They have the most extensive fish menu I’ve ever seen.

Once we figured out their regular menu vs. specialty menu line ordering system, we were good to go – with one small hitch. I’d decided that I wanted frog legs. (Hey, where else was I going to try them?) Unfortunately, frog legs need to be a call-ahead item, as they are frozen and take about 40 minutes to thaw and prepare. I guess they aren’t such a popular menu item.

So I settled on alligator soup. The soup was akin to a veggie beef stew with a Cajun seasoning. The alligator was a dark meat and kind of flaked apart in strips like beef. I couldn’t quite describe what the alligator itself tasted like. I’m going to go with a dark meat chicken taste.

Now, the soup was good, but I was pretty bummed about not getting to eat frog legs. Since our hotel was near Wheeling, we went back the next day for a snack, and I called ahead to order my frog legs.

Oh. My. Goodness. They come in pairs. Joined at the hips – pairs.

My father got a good chuckle at how excited I was about these. Country folk have “gigged” frogs forever, and he and his brothers ate them when they were kids. My grandmother told me that they “hop” when you fry them!!!

These came battered and deep-fried. They were still on the bone, so you pop them apart and pick them up with your fingers. It’s just like eating chicken wing dings. I actually even dipped them in ketchup. (I’m not a tartar sauce person.)

The experience was awesome, but I don’t think I’d order them again. They are the consistency of eating chicken wings, but with the taste of a Long John Silver’s fish fillet – faintly fishy, but just more beer batter, which is great if you like fish. Me? I think I’ll keep to my chicken.

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