Tuesday, April 19, 2011

St. Joan of Arc Offers Hot Eats, Cool Treats

Around this time in the season, my fish fry visits start to become more and more monotonous. Six weeks of feasting on run-of-the-mill spaghetti and drinking cheap Natural Light will do that to a person. Especially as the weather warms up, and we’d all, admittedly, rather be drinking on a patio somewhere. That said, I was a little worn for the weary heading into the fish fry at St. Joan of Arc in South City on Friday. Luckily, the fry surpassed my (albeit low) expectations.

Early in the season, a faithful reader posted photos from a FEAST Magazine article on the Facebook page featuring the St. Joan of Arc fry. I had visited St. Joan of Arc years back and posted a positive review. However, with the addition of an ice cream sundae bar and a few outside the box sides, I thought it may be worth adding to the weekly reader poll. Apparently others agreed because the fry beat out competitors by nearly 15 votes.

Hearing good things from fellow fish fry reviewers, I anticipated a long wait. But when I arrived around 6:15 p.m. there was no wait and still plenty of hot food on the line. I ordered the fried cod, Irish potatoes and parmesan broccoli. Yes, I justified eating fried fish by ordering a side of broccoli.

All of the food was hot and tasty, especially the potatoes and homemade tartar sauce. The baked fish and mac’n’cheese received positive reviews as well. As in most cases, the highlight of my meal was the dessert - an ice cream sundae bar. A mere buck and a half buys you a generous serving of vanilla ice cream and all the toppings you could want. It may not be Ted Drews, but any fish fry with a sundae bar deserves a nod in my book.

Now if only parishes would start adding patio seating, we’d really be in business.

Overall Rating: 9 out of 10 fish patties

Photos from top to bottom:
Overly excited about my fish sandwich
Typical plate at St. Joan of Arc
MMMMM…ice cream

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Steer Clear of the Yellow Stuff

A good fry requires a fine balance of tasty fare, good value, efficient service and friendly atmosphere. St. Justin Martyr in Sunset Hills delivered on three out of four of the criteria, but came up short in one key area: the food.

While the fish, both fried and baked, was above average, the sides seriously lacked. The spaghetti was just mediocre, and the mac’n’cheese was almost inedible – cold and bland.

I will say the meal was a great value, with $8 buying a healthy serving of fish, three sides, a dessert and drink. But since “Dot’s Slaw” is the only side worth eating, I’d advise ordering up a triple serving of slaw. What’s that? Not a slaw fan? Sorry. I heard the cheese pizza is good.

Overall Rating: 7 out of 10 fish patties.

Monday, April 4, 2011

St James Serves Up Overwhelming Portions and Underwhelming Taste

As a casual fish fry diner, St. James in Dogtown might do the job. The fry offers huge portions at a decent value ($8), friendly parishioners keep the line moving quickly and there are plenty of dessert options. However, as the Fish Fry Master, I found the experience to be a little lack luster…even by fish fry standards.

The fried cod was a little bland and cookie-cutter. Literally, every piece of cod was the exact same size and square shape – a sure sign of frozen, pressed fish. The baked cod was mushy and under-cooked, and the green beans were cold. On the upside, the fried catfish received rave reviews and the red pasta was pretty tasty, so perhaps my mistake was in my choices.

I think the menu could benefit from a little creativity, and the fish needs a little TLC. However, if you’re in the neighborhood (and you don’t spend six weeks a year scrutinizing fish fries) it may feel like a good bang for your buck.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 10 fish patties.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Do As The Irish Do

The clear winner this week is St. James the Greater Catholic Church in Dogtown. Now let me preface this trip by saying I know absolutely nothing about this fish fry. As the Fish Fry Master, I often times receive tips on what certain fries serve, what their niche is or at least what kind of booze selection they offer. But when it comes to St. James, I’m going in blind. Well, at least that was the case before I read this less than stellar review this morning on The 13 blog - http://the13blog.wordpress.com. All I have to say is, God help us.

I hope to arrive around 6:15 p.m. tonight. Care to join in my plight?

St. James the Greater Catholic Church
1360 Tamm Avenue
St. Louis, Mo 63139

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

St. Mary Magdalen: Grab a Beer and Stay Awhile

There’s a reason 1,200+ people visit St. Mary Magdalen in Brentwood every Friday. Is it the creative signage or innovative menu? Probably not. Is it the lively soundtrack or rumors of JELL-O shots? Possibly. But, I’d bet it’s the “God’s Cod” that keeps them coming back week after week.

Whether it was fried, baked or wrapped in a tortilla, all the fish received rave reviews from the crew on Friday. But the baked salmon with homemade dill sauce is hands down the best fish I’ve had from a fish fry in years (I realize the weight of this statement). It’s so good, it’s as if you’ve ordered it off the menu at the finest Red Lobster this side of the Meramec.

The main dish is supported by a unique selection of sides, most of which are homemade. My favorites include the parmesan potato chips, sweet and sour slaw and green beans amandine. Desserts were delicious and plentiful, so much in fact that they were doling out extras for free at the end of the night.

The bar is stocked with Schlafly on tap, and strategically positioned right before you start the waiting game. First, you wait in a line to order your meal, then you wait in a different line to pay, which finally leads to a line to pick-up your food. Don’t get me wrong, it’s worth the wait. Just think about bringing some delicious Triscuits to hold you over.*

Overall Rating: 9 out of 10 fish patties.

*If you don’t get this reference, I’m sorry.

Friday, March 25, 2011

God's Cod and Jell-O Shots

The votes are in and we’re heading to St. Mary Magdalen in Brentwood this week. This fish fry has been popular for years – so much so that they have their own facebook page. However, this year they’ve updated their menu with fish tacos, baked salmon with dill sauce and “God’s Cod” with homemade parmesan chips. Plus, there’s a rumor they have Jell-O shots! They serve food from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m., and I hope to arrive around 6:30 p.m.

Hope to see you there!

St. Mary Magdalen
8750 Magdalen Ave
Brentwood, MO 63144

Monday, March 21, 2011

St. Mark Brings Us Back to Basics

In this day and age as many fries go fancy with fish tacos and frog legs, few parishes stick to the basics and do them well. While the menu at St. Mark in South St. Louis may be predictable, the friendly service and tasty fare make up for the lack of choices.

My weekly plate-o-carbs consisted of fried cod and shrimp, spaghetti and hush puppies washed down with a slice of homemade cake. And actually listing that out makes me realize I need to opt for the baked option this week. That said, my meal at St. Mark was solid – fish was crispy, spaghetti was above average and hush puppies were hush puppies (you just can’t mess up hush puppies in my eyes).

The staff at St. Mark was super fast and friendly, there was no line and plenty of room to spread out. It was such a pleasant fish fry experience that it made up for the fact that they ran out of several items some may consider key – mac’n’cheese, shrimp, water and beer. I fear the No Meat For You crew may have cleaned them out.

Overall Rating: 7 out of 10 fish patties

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hope This Guy Serves Up A Mean Cod

The voters have spoken, and we’re heading to St. Mark’s in South City tomorrow. They serve food from 4:30 – 7 p.m., and I hope to arrive around 6:15 p.m. From the looks of the menu below, looks like a pretty average fry. Let’s all hope they can wow us with outstanding atmosphere or outrageously cheap beer.

Hope to see you there!

St. Mark Church
8300 Morganford
St. Louis, MO 63123

Fish Fry Menu
Dinners $8.00
Shrimp 6 piece, 2 sides and dessert
Fried Cod 2 piece, 2 sides and dessert
Fried Combo 1 piece fish, 3 shrimp, 2 sides and dessert
Baked Cod 1 piece, 2 sides and dessert

Children’s Dinners (or young at heart) $4.00
Shrimp 3 piece, 2 sides and dessert
Fried Cod 1 piece, 2 sides and dessert

Fried Cod-1 piece with bread $3.00
Baked Cod-1 piece with bread $3.50

Side dishes for dinners
Applesauce Green Beans French Fries
Spaghetti Slaw Hush Puppies
Mac n Cheese

Cheese Pizza $2.00

Complimentary coffee
Other drinks are available for purchase.
One complimentary dessert included with a dinner purchase.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Holy Infant Will Have You Hooked

After four years of reviewing fish fries, I may have stumbled upon the Holy Grail of St. Louis fish fries – Holy Infant in Ballwin. This West County fry has it all; diverse menu, great-tasting food, upscale bar (comparatively, of course) and a friendly atmosphere. And it doesn’t hurt that my ‘Uncle D’ and Aunt Kathy were able to score us private VIP seating in the faculty conference room, plush chairs and all.

Now this fry is obviously no secret. When we arrived at 6:30 p.m. the line was nearly out the door. However, the staff works like a well-oiled machine and the line moves quickly. Plus, it gives patrons time to hit up the bar and grab a grilled shrimp skewer with their wine or beer.

The menu boasts both baked and fried options, and fish selection includes cod, shrimp, salmon and my favorite, grouper. I highly recommend the crinkle fries, and the mac’n’cheese received rave reviews as well. My one criticism is that the only complementary dessert was a chocolate chip cookie. Under non-Lent circumstances this would have been great (I love ALL cookies), but since I’m weaning myself off chocolate during Lent, it meant no dessert for me.

Overall Rating: 10 out of 10 fish patties!

Photos from top:
Posing with my plate.
It was a carb load for the non-fish eaters.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Westward Expansion

I’m kicking off the 2011 Lenten season by venturing into uncharted territory – West County. For those of you who have followed the blog (or even just skimmed it) you know that I live in the city, work in the city, play in the city and generally like to stay in the city. Not that I have anything against the area west of Hwy 270, but why leave when you have everything you need within 10 minutes? Plus it’s really hard to get to the county fries when I usually can’t leave my downtown office until after six.

So this week we’re heading to a fish fry that I’ve been meaning to try for years – Holy Infant in Ballwin. The menu boasts grouper, salmon, cod and shrimp, and they offer baked and fried options. They even have cheese pizza for the non-fish eaters at the fish fry, and Fritz's Frozen Custard for those who just come for the dessert.

Hope to see you there around 6:30!

Holy Infant Church
627 Dennison Dr.
Ballwin, Mo 63021