Tuesday, April 12, 2011

5th Friday of Lent: Part II.

5th Friday of Lent

St Matthias

F remarked with some relief that giving up on inciting religious genocide for Lent is going well, though the first two weeks were kind of hard.

This week our master blogger was trapped in Dayton, so she entrusted the dinner choice and keyboard to us and the three of us ventured out to St Matthias, 1566 Ferris Road on the north side of town.

St Matthias was the 13th apostle; chosen after Judas betrayed Jesus Christ. The remaining disciples needed to fill in the line-up. They narrowed down their choices between Joseph and Matthias and then they prayed about it, asking God to help them with the choice. Then the rolled some dice, God intervened and Matthias got called up to the majors. He is often depicted with an axe.

Matthias is the Patron saint of alcoholism, carpenters, small pox and tailors. In the US, he’s the patron of Gary, Indiana and Billings, Montana.

Depending on what you read, he died of old age, beheading or stoning and is buried in modern Day Georgia, Ethiopia or Jerusalem respectively.

But enough about history, right? You came for the review, didn’t you?

The Fry is actually served in the attached school gym. Once you get to the parking lot, signs are pretty easy to spot. The school must decorate for this time of year, for there were shoals of fishes tacked to the hallway corridors leading to the gym.

It seems they do a brisk carry out business. The first desk we came to had a line and a number of people waiting. This was for take-away.
If you’re staying for dinner, walk into the gym. Volunteer staff will seat you. Menus are at the table. Waitstaff take your order, tally up the money, give change and deliver your order. It seems like this would have a lot of people handling the money, but it seems to work for them. They also bus the tables and reset them, so they’re busy bunch.

The staff we spoke with didn’t seem to know what they were raising money for and whether it was for the school or the church. The lady next to us thought that it went to the General Fund, but she goes to a church down the road.

In addition to baked fish, which looked very good there are 3 options for fried fish. There is a 1 piece small or a 2 piece large, plus a 9 oz piece. (Largest?) The former were the same type of fish, uniformly triangular and seemed processed. The 9 oz piece was a nice piece of lightly breaded cod. We shared pieces around and all believed that the 9 oz piece was the best. F didn’t think there was any reason to order a Large dinner since a bigger, better fish dinner was just 50 cents more.

French fries were had by all, and they were bad. Probably the worst we’ve had all season. Dry and dusty; no amount of condiments could save them. Letting them get cold only made them worse.
Others around us raved about the baked potato. We should have tried one.

The coleslaw seemed tart and was not too well received. The apple sauce was cinnamon-ny and this was a plus.

Fruit punch and ice tea were included. Pepsi products were extra. Perhaps because St Matthias is the Patron of alcoholism, there was no beer or wine available at any cost.

I did try the clam chowder. It came highly recommended by our waitress, though she did admit that it was not homemade. I think that would be quite a feat to cook clam chowder for hundreds each week. Our table mates reported that they get it from GFS. It was not bad.

Maybe the highlight was the desserts. St. Matthias caters in pies from “Just Pies” in Worthington. These are circulated on carts, dim sum-fashion. Large wedges of pie are $2.25 which is the highest we’ve paid for desserts, but on a per calorie basis they’re probably competitive.

This event had lots of regulars. You could feel the sense of community in the familiar greetings and hugs amongst the diners. From a quality point of view though, this location was pretty average with the 9 oz. fish and the desserts being the high points.

There were pictures to go along with this entry, but I couldn't get them inserted with Blogger.com. Will work on that and try for next time.

See you next week!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Week #5: The Drive Through Experience. St. Michaels

A night on my own. I spent an extra long day in Dayton on Friday. A job site visit that I thought was going to take, at the most two hours, ended up taking four. So at 4:50 I was on the phone to my loving family telling them that they will need to be off without me.

Thom reminded me that it was Fish Fry night, which I knew, but I was sure that they could soldier on in my absence. He then suggested that I search out a location in Dayton to give it a try, but I wanted nothing more than to get back on the road to Columbus. I knew I would have to figure something out if for no other reason than the fact that I had missed lunch and was now running on vending machine cheese and peanut butter crackers.

On my drive home I remembered that one of my favorite Fish Fries also offers not only good food but a unique twist on the standard carryout experience: a Fish Fry Drive Through. I figured that this would be the perfect opportunity to try it out.

The location is St. Michael’s on High Street in South Worthington. My kids refer to this place as the fish hat place because most of the men run around with various fish hats on their head. When you pull into the drive there is signage directing you into one of two lanes, one for eat-in and one for the drive through.

There are two drive-through lanes with an attentive group of men, in fish hats, waiting to take your order. Very friendly guys come to your window. You need two people; one to take and process the order and one of the rather young, think 15ish, variety to run for your food.

I ordered the standard adult dinner, fried fish, French fries, and coleslaw. Each meal gets a roll, condiments (ketchup, tartar sauce and vinegar) and a beverage. Once my initial order was place, my runner was off like the wind. Now, I know that the kitchen is downstairs and through some hallways,so I figured I was going to have to wait. My order taker finished with my order (tartar sauce, vinegar and bottled water) and took my money ($7.50 for my whole meal), and before he was back from his short jaunt across the parking lot, my runner was back with my dinner. Very Impressive! All of this took about 10 minutes.

Once I was home it was time to see how everything held up. The fish was as good as I remember and still hot. St. Michaels is routinely one of our favorites. The coleslaw was tangy and creamy and the roll was fresh and soft. The fries fell short. They were a bit on the soggy side, so my guess it may have come from being sealed up in that Styrofoam container. They were still tasty though.

I would still give St. Michael’s “a thumbs up”. The drive through experience was excellent. But as with all fried food it’s better to eat it as soon as you can if you want it at its best.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

4th Week of Lent- St. Brendans, Hilliard

This week’s Fish Fry was a whole new adventure. The Mak family plus our honored guest my Mother-in-law K, went to St. Brendan’s Catholic School in Hilliard for our dinner.

This was our first visit to a school for a Fish Fry, and it was great to see the kids working for their fundraiser. St. Brendan’s Fish Fry is a fundraising activity for their Eighth Grade’s class trip. We did some research and discovered that they are headed to Philadelphia and Gettysburg.

We also tried to discover the amount of their fundraising goal, but neither the kids nor any of the parents were able to tell us or how much they raised on a weekly basis. They did assure us that they raised a good amount of money. From the size of the crowd, it would seem they could all travel quite comfortably.

Because we were in a school, I was intrigued by the name of St. Brendan. There were pictures of him in a sail boat, and the school mascot is the dolphin. A quick trip to our friends at Google told me that St. Brendan was a monk in Ireland born in 484 AD.

The legend behind the boat is tells that he set sail with some other monks and found and island known as Paradise. There seems to be speculation that the land they found is part of North America.

After last week’s post, I can let you know that their signage was excellent. Well-placed street signs guide you into the parking lot and once you are there signs on where the Fish Fry is and what the menu is are well placed in the building.

We can tell you that they were a really nice bunch of kids from what we saw. When you arrive, you pay at the cashier who also takes your order, fried fish or baked and potatoes. Then one of the students seats you and serves you your order.

We all ordered the adult menu, $8.50 each, no family discount. Every one of us ordered fried fish and I ordered the baked potato. The rest of the family had fries. Our meals also came with coleslaw, canned green beans and rolls. Beverages are included in the meal, tea, coffee, soft drinks, lemonade. Beer was an additional cost of $3. Kid’s meals were available with pizza.

We all agreed that the fish was very good, lovely breading and very tasty. The fries were crispy and hot and my baked potato was well done. We also appreciate the attempt at a vegetable, but canned green beans are never any good. The rolls were said to be baked fresh and I am sure that they were, but they were also average.

Throughout the meal, kids and adults come around with cups of condiments for you, coming back to make sure that you have what you need. We tried desserts as well, all homemade and all very good. If you are on the west side I would recommend this one. The food was good, and I am a sucker for supporting kids in their effort to fund raise.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lent Week #3: St. Paul the Apostle.

I want to take a moment to give some advice to anyone planning a Fish Fry, or any other charity fundraiser that serves food and potentially serves it to people who are unfamiliar with your venue and or your system. Please be generous in your signage!

We have visited several Fish Fry’s both this year and last that had poor signage. On more than one occasion we searched around large multi building facilities trying to find where the Fish Fry is located. We have also wandered through buildings searching for the dining area. You can follow your nose, but this sometimes leads you out back where they are frying the fish.

Finally, your Menu should be readily available both at the table you pay, and at the place you get your food.

This Friday on the third week of Lent Z and I, and our wayward Catholic friend Beth, went to St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Westerville. Thom and Fe were away on spring break, so this week it was just the girls. I brought up the suggestions about signage because of our visit here, but St. Paul’s is not the first Church where we have experienced this.

We arrived at their huge complex on State Street that contains what looks likes two Churches and a school. Despite the lack of signage on the outside of the buildings we were able to spot the school cafeteria from the outside and people mingling around. This was our clue and we ventured in.

We were in luck. Our dinners were $7 for adults and $4 for children 12 and under. Bargain hunters note: this was the lowest price so far this year.

After we paid ,we received our color coded tickets and a small orange traffic cone. We found a place at one of the tables and put the cone on our table. After just a few minutes of waiting a nice man from the Knights of Columbus came around and took our order.

The adults had the option of fried fish, baked fish, or macaroni and cheese for our entree and French fries, scalloped potatoes, or macaroni and cheese as side dish. There was optional coleslaw or apple sauce, and white roll or wheat. Drinks were also included and were served yourself.

This is another situation where they could have printed out menus and either posted them on the wall or had them on the table. It would have made it much easier of us and for our “waiter”. The only difference between our menu and Z’s was that she was not able to order baked fish.

Also if you were paying close attention you may have noticed you are able to order macaroni and cheese with a side dish of macaroni and cheese!

We all ordered fried fish and let me first say that it was both hot and yummy. My side dish was scalloped potatoes and coleslaw, Z had the macaroni and cheese and apple sauce and Beth had the scalloped potatoes and coleslaw.

I apologize that we didn’t order the French fries. I will tell you that they looked good and if the fish was any example their fried food was very good. The scalloped potatoes were tasty and Z gave the macaroni and cheese a thumbs up.

Z’s best quote of the evening was that our rolls tasted like communion bread. The amazing thing is that she was right, at least compared to our church.

Desserts were an extra dollar and once again homemade. Z had “dirt” in a cup which made her very happy and I had a nice piece of cake.

Our little group enjoyed our evening and our only complaint would be the poor information sharing. Again, something to keep in mind if you are planning your own fish fry.

Let us know if you have a great Fish Fry to wow us with!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Our Lady of Victory-Marblecliff

Loyal Readers: I am sorry for the delay this week. Being a single parent last week kept me busy and distracted. Fear not though here is Fish Fry week two.

Our party was down to three this week due to a minor bug that had Z down for the count last Friday. So it was up to Thom, F and I to venture out to Our Lady of Victory in Upper Arlington. Due to the Buckeye basketball game we started a bit later just to confirm our Buckeyes had a decisive lead, then checked on Z, took her carry out order and headed out into the rain.

If you are looking for scenery, give Our Lady of Victory two thumbs up. It is nestled in Marble Cliff one of the more beautiful neighborhoods in Columbus. Lots of big trees and winding roads with a bit of a hill, such as we have in Central Ohio, surround the area. I imagine it will be even more beautiful when spring gets a little more established here in Columbus.

We lined up with the crowd at the entrance and paid for our four meals, three to eat in and one to carry out. Adults were $9 each and kids, 12 and under, were $5 which covered everything. There was no family discount.

The main attraction is the FRESH LAKE ERIE PERCH! Ok, yes, I grew up on Lake Erie and am a bit partial. That said, I didn’t love the breading, but both boys did, and the couple we shared our table with were regulars, so clearly it must be a taste thing. This mother and son pair also told us that the church has it brought in fresh every Friday.

There is also the ever present coleslaw, steak fries and bake potatoes. They will get credit too for offering salad and rice as options. Bread with butter too. And for all you fans, Grandview’s own, Rotollo’s Pizza is an option for the kids meals.

I enjoyed my baked potato, especially since they had sour cream after our first week’s experience. F thought the fries were too salty but good. We should also note that our family is not big steak fry fans, so French fries would always make us happier.

Desserts were clearly homemade which is a plus as far as I am concerned, and our mint chocolate bundt cake was a hit at our table.

Sodas and water are included. Beer and wine are available for a donation.

We brought a carry-out meal home to Z. We aren’t sure if it was because of the lateness of the hour or because it was carry-out but she was given four pieces of fish instead of our three. The food transported well enough, but I’m not sure that anything fried is as good once it has cooled off. Even so, she gave her dinner a thumbs up.

Coming soon, our review of St. Paul’s in Westerville.

Plus, we’ve added share buttons to make sharing this blog with your friends even easier.

Monday, March 14, 2011

2011: First week of Lent- St. Patricks, Downtown Columbus

Lent begins again and the intrepid Mak family is off in search of Columbus’s best Catholic Fish Fry.  Our hope this year is to visit new locations and explore new offerings.
If  you are considering visiting any of our locations from last year, we would love to hear of any changes and updates.  We discussed over dinner what our favorite was from last year and we universally agreed that it was St. Michaels on High Street in Worthington.  In fact, it was the one that was requested for a return visit this year.

 Both the Mak-lings are entering that phase of adolescents where they have plans on the weekends that don’t involve their parents.  I include this as a ray of hope for my friends with younger children who feel like it is impossible to spend an evening alone with your spouse. Your day will come!  

The downfall of this is that we are now glorified chauffeurs doing the pick-up and drop-off all night long. Even with a busy Friday evening our dedication is to you, so our family of four ventured out early to St. Patrick Catholic Church at 280 N. Grant in Downtown Columbus.

Because our children’s busy schedules dictated, we were early birds and pulled into the parking lot at 5pm. The lot was filled with teenagers getting ready for an event, happily joshing and horsing around. We worked our way into what looked like a newer parish hall and found ourselves first in line.

Our dinner was a choice of two types of fish, fried or baked.  Each dinner had two pieces though you were not allowed to mix and match. All of us opted for fried, I think in honor of our first of the season.  Though, I did try and get one of each. There was also macaroni and cheese, coleslaw and two types of potatoes, baked and French fries.  Dessert was homemade brownies and cupcakes.  Drinks were sodas, water, and fruity punch as part of the dinner price or wine and beer for a $2.50 donation. Adult dinners were $9, kids 12 and under were $4 and there was a family deal for $30.

Probably because we were the first ones there and this was the first Fish Fry of the season, they were a bit disorganized but they quickly recovered and were able to sort out what color our ticket was supposed and what their portion control was we were quickly served with a smile. 

Along with our fish each of us had the mac and cheese. Thom and the kids had coleslaw and fries and I tried the baked potato.  The food was basic but generally tasty. The fish was hot and crispy, but F decided felt that it was “uniformed in shape and that kind of creeps me out.” The baked potato was good but they had only butter and oddly, cream cheese but not sour cream.  The French fries were proclaimed good but needed salt. Thom and the kids thought the mac and cheese was good and it was better than average but I thought it was only just above average. I will admit to being pretty picky about my mac and cheese. We all thought the brownies were great and Z claimed a coveted corner piece.  F thought his cupcake was good.

If our visit is an example of what to expect in the future I would suggest this for families with small kids you want to feed early since it was easy to get in and out and the portions were filling. The people were friendly and by the time we left to drop the kids off for their evenings of fun the room was filling up with families with small children.

Again, if you go to a fish fry, let us know what you think.  We need contributors, so feel free to chime in!