Thursday, February 28, 2008

Give me some sugar!

We at the Illinois Bureau decided to celebrate Washington's Birthday on Friday February 22nd by attending yet another Knights of Columbus fish fry. This time the Maryville K of C was the victim.

Wait time: 5

The set-up was a little confusing, and it took forever to get our food! It didn't really seem that busy so I am not sure what the hold up was. I did see a few pitchers of beer being delivered to the fry shack!

Selection: 6

Decent selection, but nothing to rave about. The menu featured the usual suspects, catfish, cod and shrimp were there with a new friend named Jack Salmon. All fried, all the time! Fries, mac & cheese, hush puppies and slaw round out the side choices. Drink selections were somewhat limited. The biggest disappointment was the fact that there was no desert available!!!!!

Price: 8

Nothing new here, $7-10 a person and you get a meal fit for a king!

Taste: 7

I was a little worried about the Jack Salmon, but it was actually pretty good. You had the option of salt and vinegar for fries which was a nice touch. The slaw was homemade and a little funky!

Overall Rating: 6.5 out of 10 fish patties

Alrighty then, I hope that this sheds a little more light on the good parts of the east side!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Damn the weather gods

Yes, it's odd that I'm damning gods on a blog that revolves around the Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent, but of course I'm referring to Zeus, the greek god of weather, and not my man JC. Regardless, I regret to inform you that I have taken it upon myself to cancel the fish fry festivities tonight on account of weather (mainly because my sedan sucks in the snow). Feel free to attend solo and report back to me your experiences. If it sucks, the rest of us will find a different option for next week.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Illinois Bureau: A well-oiled machine on the east side

Abby and Pat Durst of the IBFFI (Illinois Bureau of Fish Fry Investigators) have managed to notch another tally on the Knights of Columbus circuit. This week we were able to sample the Bethalto K of C fare. A little bit of a change from last week as we chose to carry out rather than dine in.

Wait time: 7 - Although our arrival was early in the evening (5pm) there was a healthy line forming already. Surprisingly the time to wait, order and carry out only reached 15 minutes. The system there seems to be pretty well-oiled. I think dine in might have added another 5-10 minutes.

Menu: 9 - There is a reasonably large selection for dining at the Bethalto K of C. Fish choices included both baked and fried cod, whitefish, whole catfish, shrimp and buffalo. Sides were hush puppies, slaw, fries and potato salad. Dine in dinner included spaghetti, and all diners had the option for fresh Italian bread, grazi! Deserts were present this time and were homemade varieties of pies and cakes! Beer seems to be less readily available than at other venues.

Price: 10 - Carry out was priced by the Lb.($7) or 1/2 Lb($4) of fish. Shrimp were $3 for a basket of 6. Deserts and sides were $1 apiece. Less than $20 to eat for 2 and still have leftovers. Here is the stat of the week, the Bethalto K of C offers an $8 all you can eat fish for dine in!!! That includes fish, spaghetti, 2 sides, bread, 1 desert, drink (water, tea, punch)! I got full just typing that in!

Taste: 7 - We sampled the shrimp, fried cod and buffalo, and found the fish to be pretty tasty, not to0 greasy. The slaw was ok at best, but the hush puppies were a nice touch. The bread was really good! I didn't get sauces to go, so that sort of hurt the taste rating, a little tartar goes a long way! The deserts were fine, great German chocolate cake and custard pie hit the spot, but sometimes you just crave a cupcake with sprinkles on top!

Overall Rating: 8.25 out of 10 fish patties

Steer clear of the catfish!

The not-so-well kept secret fish fry at Epiphany Catholic Church in South City was packed with more god-loving fish-eaters than I would have liked, but perhaps rightfully so. Equipped with a diverse menu and superb customer service team, the fry at Epiphany managed to live up to my expectations – despite the wait time.

I regret to say, my dear Uncle Don did not experience the same satisfaction. His catfish sandwich was greasy, and basically gross. Knowing how a greasy fish situation could really put a damper on one’s dinning experience, I took it upon myself to request a trade off – Uncle Don’s crappy catfish in exchange for a fresh cod sandwich. Demonstrating the true meaning of customer service, the good parishioners at Epiphany gladly obliged my request.

Wait time: Too long! A few of us demonstrated true Christian-like behavior by waiting in the longer and slow-moving dine-in line. That is before the vast majority wised up and opted for the shorter carry-out line and then dinned in anyway.

Menu: While dinning on bottom-feeders may not be my entrĂ©e of choice, I appreciated the variety of fish offered at Epiphany. Straying from the usual, salmon and catfish were served alongside the old stand-bys – cod and shrimp. Side orders also were a’ plenty with spaghetti, mac’n’cheese, coleslaw, corn, green beans and applesauce on the menu.

Price: All items were offered a la carte and at an affordable price at that. To demonstrate my point, I believe my friend, Andrew Starr, ate for under eight bucks. Not a small feat for such a fat man :)

Taste: Now I’m not sure if the food was really that good, or if I was just so hungry that deep fried dirt would have hit the spot, but my cod sandwich, spaghetti and seemingly home-made gooey butter cake was positively delicious! Some trusted sources with discerning tastes (aka Reba and Jason) also reported that the mac’n’cheese rocked the house.

Atmosphere: Too crowded for my liking, and the bus station in the middle of the room was pretty unappetizing.

Overall Rating: 7 out of 10 fish patties

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Illinios Bureau: K of C is where it's at!

If you like to frequent the east side, read below for a report from Abby and Pat Durst of the IBFFI (Illinois Bureau of Fish Fry Investigators)

Last Friday (Feb 8) we attended the fish fry at the Knights of Columbus in Edwardsville, IL. I would have to say that it was a good dining experience and should rank well when compared to other setups.

Wait Time: 10 out of 10 fish patties
One of the unique traits of the Eville K of C fry is that there is typically no waiting in line or ordering from a counter. They have a cafeteria type setup where you walk in, sit down and order from a waiter! In a matter of 10-15 minutes your food arrives! Need more to drink, just ask! Need more napkins and some tarter sauce, no problem!

Selection: 6 out of 10 fish patties
The K of C offers basic fried fish choices (cod and Catfish) in both sandwich and platter varieties (w/slaw and fries). Appetizers include onion rings, mushrooms etc... Drinks include alcohol, sodas and tea. We arrived a little later in the evening and they were out of desert though, ouch!

Price: 8 out of 10 fish patties
Nothing to shocking here, between 6-10 per person to eat depending on how much you ritz it up! The beer was cheap and refreshing ($2 bottles)

Taste: 8 out of 10 fish patties
Both the catfish and cod had a light crispy batter and were rather tasty! Mushrooms were only average. Much to my dismay I can't comment on desert!!!

Overall rating: 8 out of 10 fish patties

There you have it, we will hopefully have another report from the IBFFI (Illinois Bureau of Fish Fry Investigators) soon. Good day and fine dining!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A merry kick-off at Mary, Mother of the Church

It was a strong showing at this year's kick-off to the fish fry tour. While most in attendance were Goedekers, or those fraternizing with Goedekers, we had a few brave newbies come out. What made our time so merry was not only that the food was good and I was pleasantly surprised by the option of a baked potato as a side item, but I think what set Mary Mother apart from the rest was the friendly, personable service we received. Now I’m not sure if someone tipped off the help that I was reviewing their every move, or if it was my notebook that gave it away, but I haven’t experienced service like that since…well never! Tina* and Nina* we there every step of the way, taking our plates, refilling our drinks and even replenishing our desserts for free!

Even factoring in the embarrassing food ticket mix-up, Jason snatching Aunt Kathy’s last piece of milk cake and the unidentified crumbs hanging out in the punch bowl of cocktail sauce, it was a thoroughly enjoyable time had by all.

Wait time: none!

Menu: Pretty basic, with the refreshing exception of the baked potato as a side option. Fried cod and shrimp platters were available and included a choice of two sides -- spaghetti, baked potato, green beans, slaw and apple sauce. Wheat or white bread is served with all dinners, and all meals included a drink and a selection of home-made (or store-bought) desserts.

Price: A bargain at $6

Taste: Everything tasted great, until I got to the end of my fried cod patty and it started to get mysteriously mushy. I want to give a special shout-out to my Godmother’s milk cake (which I was able to mooch a bite from Jason, who again stole the last piece).

Atmosphere: Not too crowded or loud, with friendly people eager to help make your dinning experience most pleasurable.

Overall Rating: 8 out of 10 fish patties

* Not their real names.

Yes, I'm really doing this

That's right I created a blog. No, this is not one of those ordinary blogs where people write about the mundane happenings of their lives in hopes that someone, other than him or herself, finds it interesting or funny (although that may be next on my list). This blog revolves around the sanctity of the Lenten season and sacrifices we Catholics make in preparation of Jesus' rise from the dead. Yep that's right people, we're talking fish fries. The events where parishes unite to throw some frozen fish patties in a mass fryer in an effort to capitalize on no-meat Fridays and raise some dough for the church.

That's why I decided it's my mission this season to gather as many people as I can convince to join me on my quest for the best fish fry that St. Louis has to offer, bringing new business to area fries and in turn entertaining all of you with my friendly (otherwise noted) critique of the events. Plus, I'm hoping I'll eventually pen such a name for myself that I will start getting free meals out of it.

So read on people, and tag along sometimes to experience the true meaning of the season -- mediocre fish, cheap beer and the all the Goedeker commentary you can stomach.

See you there!