Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Everything is Better Fried

I’ve seen the signs, I’ve received the e-mails, and so this week, we’re headed to St. Stephen Protomartyr Catholic Church in South City. Not because one of my city-dwelling friends coerced me into it, but because I heard they offer fried mac’n’cheese bites and hush puppies.

And judging by the crowd in this picture from a St. Stephen's fry of yesteryear, it's sure to be a crazy Friday night. So bring your beer money, and get there around 6 PM.

St. Stephen Protomartyr Catholic Church
3949 Wilmington Ave
St. Louis, MO 63116

South County's Best Kept Secret

Sometimes the best eateries are those that don’t advertise - the ones that no one knows about, like Schottzies Bar & Grill in South County or The Gravois Grill in Fenton. The same goes for the fish fry at Mary, Mother of the Church in South County. In my humble opinion, it’s the best kept secret since QT taquitos.

Even with the addition of cheese toasted ravioli and cheese pizza, there was no wait at Mary Mother. The food was tasty, portions were generous, and beer was only $1. The dessert table was filled with all the sugary treats most Catholics give up for Lent – which is probably why the staff was offering all diners seconds.

It’s a toss up on if the highlight of the evening was Aunt Kathy’s hot milk cake or the moment when J Carnage, a first-time fish fry visitor, immediately dumped his tray of food on the ground upon sitting down to the table. I’ll let you decide.

Overall rating: 9 out of 10 fish patties

Monday, March 23, 2009

Illinois Bureau: Oldie But Goodie

This week we ventured back to an old favorite fish fry, the Edwardsville Knights of Columbus. We are no strangers to this location and frequent it on a regular basis during the off season. No waiting in line here, just sit down, place your order and presto - your food is delivered to the table! Catfish and cod were sampled, and both were scrumptious as usual. Unfortunately there are no choices with the sides at the K of C, slaw and fries are standard.

Prices were pretty much in line with other locations, with one exception - the dessert. A sweet treat in E-ville will set you back a whopping $1.50. However, the pecan pie was tasty so I shouldn't complain. We would recommend this fry to anyone.

Overall Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Tuna Melts

Friday, March 20, 2009

New Menu at Mary Mother

This week we're headed to Mary, Mother of the Church in So Co, not only because it's my God Mom's parish (although that has a lot to do with it), but I feel obliged to test the new menu items. Looking forward to the cheese toasted ravioli and the new potatoes, but the highlight of the night is sure to be the Hot Milk Cake.

If you're intrigued, join us tonight at Mary Mother around 6 PM.

Mary, Mother of the Church
5901 Kerth Road
St. Louis, MO 63128
Fry runs from 4 - 7 PM

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Early Bird Gets The Worm

So yes, this review is long overdue, and yes, I’m giving everyone less than 24 hrs notice on where we’re headed this week. However, until writing fish fry reviews starts paying my rent and health insurance, blogging takes a back seat to my actual job.

Without further adieu, below is a list of pros and cons of the fish fry we attended at St. Cecilia’s last week. Note: the cons, while few, may weigh heavily depending how hungry you are.

Convenient location: to my house, of course
Diverse crowd: while most fish fry crowds consists of 70% elderly white people and 30% soccer moms and their kids, St. Cecilia’s attracts diners of all ages and races. I even saw a few people my own age.
Lively atmosphere: loud music, crowded bar, tiny Mexican-American children in costumes and long lines of hungry Catholics – what more could you ask for.
Friendly parish: the pastor and the deacon walked through the line all night, greeting the diners and pretending to understand Uncle D’s jokes.
Extensive menu: they offer your typical fish fry menu on top of the tasty authentic Mexican dishes
Decent desserts: my chocolate cake was awesome, and my friend Andrew said he thoroughly enjoyed the flan.

Two hour wait time
Ran out of food at 8 PM and resorted to giving diners plates full of corn or offering full-refunds.

Bottom line, I think St. Cecilia’s offers a truly unique fish fry. However, the secret is out and if you want to take full advantage of the menu, get in line by 4 PM or call-in a take-out.

Overall Rating: 7 out of 10 fish patties

Monday, March 16, 2009

Illinois Bureau: Worth The Wait

For St. Patrick's Day weekend we decided to try our luck at the Knights of Columbus in Bethalto.

Out of the gates the wait time was a little bit long, but things improved from there. The vast menu boasted cod, catfish, buffalo, whitefish, shrimp and "Kermit the Frog's" legs. The list of plentiful side items included spaghetti, fries, slaw and potato salad. As a bonus all meals came with fresh bread, a desert and a drink.

Here is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, fish (minus shrimp and frog legs) and sides were all you could eat! Wash everything down with a $4 pitcher of refreshing brew, and you get a night to remember.

Overall Rating 9 out of 10 Fish Tacos

Guest Blogger: St. Clare of Assisi

Since I started this venture a couple years ago, I like to think that this blog has had a positive impact on fish fry sales in the St. Louis area. Or, maybe just boosted sales at the fries I attend. Still, some readers have really embraced fish fry Fridays. One of these readers happens to be my boss, Mr. Marc Abel.

On Friday, Marc sprung and took his family somewhere real nice -- the fish fry at St. Clare of Assisi. Below is a review of the establishment from his daughter, Sam:

1. It was really really crowded and hard to find a place to park. 2. The fish was great!! 3. It was kind of expensive - $8. 4. We payed extra for a brownie that was the best brownie ever and was an inch thick!! 5. No croutons in the salad. 6. The line was sooooo long that we had to take it to go. 7. My dad said the beer was good.

I would give it a 7 out of 10 fish patties.

- Samantha Abel

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Get Ready for a Fish Fry Fiesta

Some of you may have heard how the Goedeker family celebrates Jesus' rising from the dead every Easter Sunday -- stuffing ourselves stupid at the all-you-can-eat Casa Gallardo brunch (classy, I know). So when I read the below article on www.stltoday.com this morning, I figured, why wait another 4 weeks?

In addition to the traditional fish fry fare, St. Cecilia's in South City offers authentic Mexican food (made by authentic Mexicans), such as tacos, quesadillas and chilie relleno. They also boast Mexican-themed entertainment every Friday. Fingers-crossed they serve Margaritas!

So brush up on your Spanish and don your sombreros, we're heading south to St. Cecilia's for a little culture this Friday.

Nuevo For Lent

St. Cecilia’s Parish
5418 Louisiana Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63111
Fish Fry runs from 4:30 - 8PM
(Arrive shortly after 6PM)

(photo by Christian Gooden/P-D)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Leeps and Bounds Above The Rest

Some people might say cutting in line at a church fish fry is a sin, I say it’s a small price to pay in the name of journalistic integrity. When I arrived to Our Lady of Providence (OLP) to hear that frog legs were running low, I took the liberty of jumping to the front of the line with my friends, the Sedlak’s, who had been waiting for over 30 minutes. My guilt was quickly lifted when I received a heaping plate of deep fried shrimp and frog.

My excitement quickly fizzled after realizing that frog legs bare a striking resemblance to frog butt, and are connected by a center pelvic bone. The black veins running throughout didn’t help either. While they didn’t taste terrible, I’d only recommend them to a blind man.

Everything else on the menu was pretty top notch by fish fry standards. Crinkle fries were crispy, mac’n'cheese was creamy and both of my desserts were a sugary delight.

Only complaint - no beer. I was under the impression that alcohol was considered to be a cornerstone of the Catholic religion. Apparently this rule doesn’t hold up in Crestwood.

Overall Rating: 8.5 out of 10 fish patties

Illinois Bureau: Holy Family Delivers Last Course First

On the list this week was Holy Family Catholic Church in Granite City. We enjoyed this fry last year and it didn't disappoint this time. Upon arrival the joint was packed, but Holy Family had an efficient three step system.

1. Place order and pay
2. Get drinks (free tea and coffee) and buy delicious dessert
3. Sit and eat delicious dessert

By the time you are finished eating the last course first, your food is delivered to the table. The service was great, and prices were pretty reasonable. As a bonus, everyone's favorite toothy freshwater fish (Wally the Walleye) was all you could eat! Sides such as mac n' Cheese and french fries were dealt in generous portions. The only knock on Holy Family is that they ran out of cod and the fry finishes at 7!

Overall Rating: 7.5 out of 10 Fillet O' Fish Sandwiches

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Illinois Bureau: Never Fear, Beer is Here!

Welcome back fish fry fans! The Illinois Bureau is up and running with a new list of venues to visit. While we don't have any fancy digital photos or links this week, here is a nice review of an east side fish joint.

Our first victim was Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Fairview Heights. Holy Trinity is a brand new church and the set-up was well organized. Top that off with plentiful seating and a friendly staff, and this fry gets an A for atmosphere!

When first arriving we were a little disgruntled with an extremely long waiting line, but never fear, beer is here! That's right, 16 ounce drafts of your favorite adult beverages were only $2! That pretty much made the wait for food enjoyable.

We were a little disappointed that the only fish choice was cod (baked or fried), but it tasted great so why complain. Unfortunately, the sides weren't anything to get excited about. The prices were in line with other fries and two adults could eat for around ten greenbacks. The dessert set-up had coffee and hot tea available, but everything was cleared out by the time we got there. This seems to be the common theme with local fries.

Holy Trinity takes a hit on wait time, selection and sides, but gains points for atmosphere and awesome beer prices!

Overall 7 out of 10 Gordon's Fish Sticks

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Crestwood Fish Fry is Sure to be Hopping!

Another week, another fish fry to ambush. This week, I propose we head west to Our Lady of Providence (OLP) in Crestwood.

The OLP men’s club who hosts the fry, claim to have “the best of the basics.” As many of us have experienced, a statement such as this really doesn’t mean much. However, when I heard they offer fried frog legs, I was sold. While I used to catch tiny frogs as a kid and keep them as pets in my Dad’s cooler, I’ve heard their legs taste like chicken - which might be a nice change up from the bone-filled salmon I choked down last week.

If you’ve got a hankering for fried cod (or amphibian) on Friday, or if you’re up for story time with Uncle D, join us around 6 PM at OLP.

Our Lady of Providence Parish
8866 Pardee Road
Crestwood, MO

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Rough Start

For those of you who failed to attend the fish fry at the Cathedral Basilica last week, below is a run down of what you missed.

1. An impressive menu, including baked fish and cheese pizza, most of which had sold out before 6 PM
2. A hefty eight dollar ticket price (+) an extra charge for drinks and desserts
3. The pleasure of watching me choke on stray bones in my jack salmon
4. Dry and bland mac ‘n cheese

Apart from being unimpressed with the food, they could use some help in the operations department. Word of advice from someone who’s been around the block, if you’re going to charge $8 only to run out of coveted dishes, such as baked fish and spaghetti, best to give me a generous portion of something chocolaty and free-of-charge to make up for it. At the very least, hand out free booze to help drown our sorrows.

Lucky for the Cathedral parishioners, it was the first Friday of Lent, so they have six weeks to get their act together. As conciliation, we contributed to helping keep the Cathedral School open (http://cathedralstl.org/school/), and got to hear Uncle D talk about when he delivered three of his four daughters. Abooya!

I give this fry 4 out of 10 fish patties.