Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I like your shoes

It’s a shame how one unfortunate incident can really put a damper on an otherwise damn near perfect fish fry. The food was unusually tasty, the menu diverse, the good company a ‘plenty and the staff extremely accommodating (after Uncle Don told them we were reviewing their operation).

Our night was nearly complete when we noticed an older man lurking around our tables and staring at our feet. We initially wrote him off as just another crazy fish fry groupie, but later learned that he was definitely not there for the catfish.

This dirty old man started approaching women in our group wearing brightly colored shoes. After complimenting them on their shoes he began asking them to move their feet around and show off their shoes a bit. After he followed my sister, who was sporting her new yellow flats, to the parking lot and asked her where she lived, we all finally caught on and big, bad papa Goedeker sent him on his way.

While I have met many strange people on my venture, including the tranny at St. Pius, this was my first fish fry sexual predator.

In an effort to repress the memory of our brush with the pervert, I’d have to say that St. George may have been one of the best fish fries yet.

Wait time: While the line appeared manageable, it proved to move extremely slowly. Of course I found a way around waiting by jumping in line with a group of friends closer to the front of the line. Next year I plan to create media credentials for myself so that I will never have to wait in line at a fish fry again, and cheating will no longer be necessary.

Menu: I was elated to have finally been able to order hush puppies! These are usually thought to be a staple at fish fries, but have managed to elude me this Lenten season. Fish options included fried cod, shrimp, jack salmon and catfish, and the sides included green beans, slaw, mostacolli and potatoes.

Taste: While it looks like I made a mistake ordering the cod over the jack salmon (I was afraid it would come out with a tail like it did at Joan of Arc), overall I was please with my meal. Sides were good, dessert was AMAZING and the jack salmon was a huge hit with the crowd, especially with my Uncle Don who sent me back for seconds.

Price: We got off cheap compared to the deal we were dealt at SHF. While I didn’t foot my own bill (that’s what good boyfriends are for), I believe you can get a good helping of fish, two sides, choice of bread, a drink and dessert for under $6!

Overall Rating: 9.5 out of 10 fish patties! A nearly perfect score, not taking into account Mr. Shoe Fetish.

Service without the smile

I decided to give into peer pressure and pay a visit to my alma mater, Seven Holy Founders. While I enjoyed the tasty food and good company, the service, in word, SUCKED! Perhaps the students and staff at SHF need to study up on their people skills.

Wait Time: Not too bad. The long line moved fast enough to keep us from complaining, but slow enough to allow me to hop out and purchase my dessert before dinner (the #1 key to an enjoyable fish fry experience.)

Price: Evidently the prices at the fish fry are rising at the same accelerated rate of the tuition costs at Seven Holy Founders. This fry really burned a hole in our pockets, with $8.75 getting you a choice of fish, two sides and a slice of bread (approximately a $2.50 value).

Taste: I have to admit, the kitchen staff at SHF know what they’re doing. The spaghetti is THE best side I’ve ever had at a fish fry. This may not mean much to most, but to someone who has spent just about every Friday night of the past two months eating fried fish and mediocre sides out of church basements, this is a big deal. My store-bought cake was also delicious. Fish was, well fish fry fish

Atmosphere: It was nice to see so many familiar faces show up for this leg of the tour. We were all having a great time catching up and reminiscing about old times at the Joe Becker tournament when we suddenly felt like we were being kicked out. This was confirmed when the staff started stacking the folding chairs on the table my grandpa was still sitting at. Guess they didn’t know I’d be writing about their RUDE behavior on the World Wide Web!

Overall Rating: 8 out of 10 fish patties. I would have given them a 9 if the student volunteer on staff had let me have an extra cup for my tarter sauce.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Illinios Bureau: The never ending quest for spaghetti

Last Friday the Illinois Bureau managed to make it over to Granite City to visit the Holy Family Parish. Coincidentally it just happened to be the only venue we have visited that was not a Knights of Columbus!

Wait time: 6. I am probably being a little harsh, but there was quite a wait to get food. First you had to wait to place your order and pay, then you had to wait again to actually pick up your food. It was a little busy, but no mercy here!

Selection: 7. The selection was pretty much average with the choices of fish being cod, shrimp or walleye. The sides were only slaw, fries and mac & cheese. Once again no spaghetti, as Illinois apparently doesn't allow Italian food to be served on Fridays! Huge serving sizes and the actual presence of desert made up for the lack of entree choices.

Taste: 9. No complaints here! The fries were a delicious "crinkle cut" variety that were fried golden brown. The mac & cheese was homemade and cheesy to the max (no leaking fluids were detected). The cod was good, and the walleye gained points for being one of the most scrumptious fish found in inland waters.

Price: 9. This category plays like a broken record, but depending on how much beer was consumed a person can dine for less than a Lincoln and 5 Washingtons. The previously mentioned serving sizes and the free option for all you can eat walleye gained huge points. Also in an unprecedented move, the desert prices were slashed to a quarter before we left.

Overall Rating: 7.75 fish patties

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My Faith Restored!

Throughout the past few weeks I’ve come to realize that reviewing fish fries is a little like training for the half marathon. In the beginning, it all very seems fun and exciting. A few weeks in, this excitement slowly begins to fade and the task starts to feel a little monotonous. Then, something I’ve learned recently in the case of the fish fries is that this monotony can quickly turn into regret when triggered by an unfortunate experience, of which I like to refer to as the St. Pius fish fry.

After such an experience, any reasonable person could understand why I was dreading spending yet another Friday night choking down greasy-fied frozen fish and cold canned green beans. Then I remembered why I started this in the first place. This blog serves as a guide to all the God-fearing and fish-loving people out there who are forever in search of a good meal that will satisfy and at the same time save them from succumbing to the temptation to eat meat on Fridays during Lent. It also serves as a source of weekly entertainment for my friends and family during their lunch break. Deciding that I could not let my readers down, I had no choice but to be brave and learn to bring more beer money. So with the support of about 20 of my closest, friends, family and colleagues, I made St. Joan of Arc the fourth stop on the 2008 fish fry tour.

To my delight, the team at St. Joan of Arc managed to restore my faith in fish fries and inspired me to continue on with my mission – and that’s not just the beer talking.

Wait time: The team at St. J of A took an innovative approach to keeping the wait time to a minimum. The staff would go through the line and tell half of the dine-in customers to get into the carry-out line in order to even up the lines and cut down on the wait time. While most in our group are accustomed to using this tactic on a weekly basis, it was nice to have permission for once.

Price: Bargain basement prices with six bucks buying one a healthy serving of fish, two sides and a drink. One thing that was troublesome was that dessert was not included in the price of the meal. This left many in our group confused and without dessert ticket. Oh well, this just meant prime selection for me!

Taste: Overall the food was good and most importantly, edible. I must say while I’m usually not a mac’n’cheese kind of girl, the mac’n’cheese was creamy and delicious. My cod was a little overdone, but slather on a little extra tarter sauce and it might have been the best fish produced at a fish fry this year. However, I do have to subtract a few points for the fried salmon still having a tail intact – gross! Makes one wonder what happened to the head.

Atmosphere: The crowd seemed very friendly and unusually normal for a fish fry crowd. Maybe this was because half the room was made up of my family friends and co-workers. Way to represent!

Overall rating: 9 out of 10 fish patties

Maryville K of C Revisited

In light of the recent trip to the Maryville K of C, the Illinois Bureau decided to revisit one of the more enjoyable fish frys in the Metro East; the Edwardsville K of C. Let's face it, we really want to avoid having a situation like the Missouri Sector encounter last week at St. Soggy Fish of Leaky Mac & Cheese! This week Don, Kathy and Kate joined as guest critics!

Wait time: 10 Once again the Edwardsville K of C is the cream of the crop when it comes to comfort! Our witty waiter Tom took care of our every need while carding half of the table for beer orders. Everyone is friendly and the atmosphere is the best we've seen.

Selection: 8 Still your basic choices, but unfortunately no deserts again! Spaghetti would be a nice addition to the menu, and can someone tell me what Mac & Cheese Nuggets are!?

Taste: 10 The food seemed even better than last time. Inspector Don liked the cod so much he sampled it twice! We also played a game of guess that spice with what was determined to be dill weed in the clam chowder!

Dining tip of the week: Try yellow mustard on your fish, Inspector Kate claims it makes the meal!

Price: 8 Even though the price of gas has escalated, inflation has yet to reach the local fish market! $10 per guest will nab enough fish to make JC proud. Deal of the week -- for only $1.75 you can get a grilled cheese sandwich and french fries. If they had late night hours Jack in the Box and Taco Bell might have some competition!

That's all folks! Check you later for more fish fry news!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Remind me, why did I agree to this again?

Everyone who has ever been to a fish fry before would probably agree on one thing – it’s certainly not five star dining. Still, in most cases we get lucky and the friendly service, good company and reasonable prices make up for the fact that we’re really eating low-quality frozen fish prepared for the masses. Unfortunately for the small group of us who attended the St. Pius fish fry last Friday night, this was not the case. To my shock and dismay waiting in a 15 minute line behind a mildly unattractive middle-aged couple who couldn’t seem to keep their hands off each other was actually one of the high points of our night (come on, it gave us something to laugh at).

From being out of key side items, such as potato salad and slaw, to the tarter sauce filled punch bowl complete with unidentified floating objects, to a rumor that the garbage disposal was out, to the live entertainment who were awkward at best, the staff at St. Pius appeared to be experiencing some major technical difficulties last Friday.

So rest assure, all you cynics of the fish fry experience who always have something better to do on Friday night (you know who you are), in this instance you were better off with your Red Lobster and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Wait Time – While the line appeared long, it moved quickly. A nice touch was when half way through they handed out entry forms for attendance prizes. OK, so the prizes consisted of knitted afghans and odd-looking home d├ęcor, but let’s face it everyone likes to win something.

Price – Competitive prices, with $6.75 getting you fish, three sides, dessert and a drink.

Menu – Well depends on if you want me to judge on the posted menu or what was actually available to the customers. You can imagine my disappointment after waiting in line for 15 minutes only to realize my side choices now consisted of cold, bottom of the barrel mac’n’cheese and canned green beans.

Taste – One word – yuck! While the catfish looked appetizing, by the time I sat down, ready to dig in, I realized the grease from the fish had completely soaked through the bottom half of my sandwich. On top of that the mac’n’cheese was cold and leaking some sort of clear liquid, my sister Gwen hoped was butter. Who really knows?! Judging from how it tasted, it could’ve been Anthrax!

Atmosphere – When the website boasted live music, I envisioned some upbeat Springsteenesque’ entertainment; I couldn’t have been more wrong. While well-intentioned, the band played what at times sounded like funeral music, which seemed appropriate as we all tried to choke down our meals.

Overall Rating – 3 out of 10 fish patties. Hey, the bartenders were nice, but I walked out of there hungry and without attendance prize.