The Original Two Cousins Restaurant
WHERE: 594 New Loudon Road, Latham Plaza, Latham
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday 10 a. m. to 8 p. m., Wednesday to Saturday 10 a. m. to 3 p. m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $23.16
MORE INFO: www.originaltwocousins.com or 783-2002. Fully wheelchair accessible. Take-out available. Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover
“You can always tell if cooked fish has been frozen,” Mom was saying as we were on our way to The Original Two Cousins Restaurant in Latham for dinner. “It’s mooshy. Fish doesn’t freeze well and the texture’s not the same after,” she said.
“Mooshy? I asked, knowing the term wouldn’t be in any of my references. “Mooshy,” she said decidedly. Such is the lore handed down in the Lee family.
At Two Cousins, you won’t get any mooshy fish, in fact, you’ll get excellent fish. We had a pleasant dinner of fine, fresh fish and had lots to talk about at the restaurant. Because it’s both a fish market and a restaurant, there is a lot to see.
The open and airy space is bright and friendly, with high ceilings and warm colors. Everything looks new and fresh, with stylish fixtures and furniture. There’s cooking going on just behind the counter, but Mom noted that there wasn’t any fishy smell.
When you’re done looking at everything, check the board or pick up a folded menu at the counter, place your order and pay. Then work your way past the specialty goods to a table in the restaurant area, just beyond the beautifully arranged fresh fish for sale in the glass display cases and the delicious-looking prepared food. Mom thought the prices were better than in the supermarket.
Goodies on view
There’s great stuff behind glass doors in the freezer like king crab legs (“Big as tree branches,” said Mom), that wooden box of salt cod that’s so hard to find, bins and bins of lobster tails in different sizes and even lobster ravioli and escargot all ready to cook.
The menu is arranged in sections, so it’s easy to find everything. In addition to the fish fries and panini sandwiches, there’s a list of tempting appetizers, sandwiches, salads and dinners. You can even get something besides fish.
Dinners are reasonably priced, with your basic fish and chips and two sides for $7.95 at the low end, but not too pricey for the fancy stuff. Choose your fish, then whether you want it deep-fried or broiled. Mom had the fried haddock fillet ($9.95) and I got the broiled fillet of sole ($11.95).
I like that the orders are clipped to a string by a clothespin and the fact that they don’t carry Coke or Pepsi. The Original Two Cousins is an independent-thinking and interesting small business.
Let me fill you in on the history: Florence DeSantis is the daughter of the owner of the Two Cousins fish market on Livingston Street in Albany. When her father retired, she chose to open a market and restaurant in Latham, and included “The Original” in the name as a tribute to the old place. Her husband, Lee Yattaw, told me that they opened in September of 2008, and that they get fish delivered every day from Boston.
We brought our drinks to a table in the back and in a short time, someone appeared with our food, on disposable black plastic plates with real cutlery wrapped in a paper napkin.
Alert readers may have noticed that I never order fish or sushi. I’ve gotten used to shrimp, and I like the really fresh tuna that is so abundant on Long Island but that’s about all the seafood I’ll eat. Mom thought I would like the sole, which has a mild flavor, and she was right. In fact, it was so good that it was almost a life-changing moment for me — a transformation, anyway, into someone who likes fish.
It was the best fish I ever ate in my life.
The juicy, broiled sole was topped with just enough lemony-crunchy stuff to make it interesting, and the texture was impossibly soft, the most delicate you could ever imagine. You must have this to believe it.
The vegetable side was bright and colorful but a bit watery and crunchy. The rice pilaf was OK, but much improved when I mixed it with the buttery sauce. It could be that they paled beside the sublime sole, but they were certainly good enough so that I finished them.
Mom thought the thin, crispy crust on the fried haddock was just right, and said the flaky white fish was terrific. It was fresh, not mooshy, she said, perfectly cooked and sweet. “The fries taste nice,” she said, and you’ll have to take her word for it because she didn’t share any with me. The coleslaw was pronounced very good.
There are limited desserts available, brought in from a vendor, so we passed. The tab for two dinners, with one glass of homemade iced tea, came to $23.16. On the way out, I put a few bucks in the tip jar.
Mom is looking forward to going back to The Original Two Cousins restaurant for shopping and a meal. I really like fish, you know.