Lenten Fish Fry Ratings & Reviews

I have been to several Lenten fish fries at Catholic parishes, most in the Kansas City area. I found one (St. Agnes parish, Shawnee Mission, Kansas) that served excellent cornmeal breaded catfish. In the St. Louis area there is a parish (St. John’s parish, Smithton, Illinois) that serves a crisp cornmeal breaded cod using locally-famous Snuffy’s recipe that is worth a trip to Smithton. I am now on a quest to find delicious fish like these being served at Catholic parishes in the Denver area.

Friday, February 29, 2008

St. Mark's Catholic Church

February 15, 2008

Friday "Knight" Fish Fry

St Mark Church Parish Center

3141 West 96th Avenue, Westminster, CO 80031
Cost: $7.00/adult, $9.00 "Super Serving", $3.00/child 10 and under,
children 3 and under eat free

Fridays of Lent Feb. 8th - Mar. 14th, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

This fish fry was about average for a Denver-area Lenten fry. They offered fried fish, french fies, potato salad, dinner salad, fruit salad, and a dinner roll. Their website also says they serve potato-battered baked fish, but I must have gotten there too late to try that because I didn't see that at all. To drink they served tea, coffee, fruit punch and water.

The Knights of Columbus serving up the food and drinks were very friendly, putting my drink in my cup for me and even offering to bring it to the table for me if I couldn't carry everything. How nice! The fried fish was battered and pefectly fried. It had a very nice flavor and was moist but not under-cooked at all. The french fries were thick cut and sprinkled with seasoned salt. They were a bit on the potato-y side for me, but I'm not a big fan of tubers so I am biased. My dinner companion went back for thirds on fish AND fries however, so there you go. There was apparently a choice of dinner salad: Caesar was one but there was another option that another diner was eagerly awaiting at the serving table. The Caesar salad was just the kind from a bag though, so I'm thinking the other one was too; I didn't wait to find out. It was nothing special. They offered a variety of dressings and I dutifully took the "Caesar" dressing that matched the lettuce on my plate. The potato salad had mustard and egg in it which I like, but despite that it didn't have a lot of flavor and was was probably store-bought. The fruit salad was canned and mushy. I liked that it had mango in it, but is mango so good that it can make a bad fruit salad good? No! Such is mango!

I noted above that a "super serving" is available for two dollars extra. I should point out that although my dinner companion went back for extra servings, he was not asked to pay for a "Super Serving" and we weren't even offered that as an option when we paid; that is something mentioned on the website.

The drinks offered were the standard offering, but missing were the beer and wine options usually available for a small extra fee or donation. Also missing from this fish fry was a bake sale. No dessert at all!

I give this Lenten fish fry two out of five Ichthus.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

St. James Catholic Parish

March 23, 2007

Knights of Columbus Fish Fry

St. James Parish Hall

1314 Newport, Denver, CO 80220
Cost: $7.00/adult, $4.00/child, $3.00/mac & cheese only
All Fridays of Lent, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Upon getting out of our cars we were greeted by the men in the back of the building who were frying the fish. They wanted us to eat a lot of it, and that was the plan...

On the menu was fried fish, baked fish, french fries, macaroni and cheese, and slaw. Two kinds of bread were available - one that looked like a whole grain type and the other was more like an Italian bread with herbs in it. Iced tea and lemonade were available, as well as beer and wine, which were free but donations were requested. The parish hall where they held the fry was very small and cramped with tables. We had to squeeze between chairs to make our way to the back of the room, where we found one of the only empty tables.

As soon as I took my first bite of fish, I knew this was going to be a good meal. The baked fish was tender and moist, but not undercooked at all. It was seasoned with salt and pepper, parsley, capers, and a few other herbs. It was wonderful. It didn't need any additional flavoring at all. The fried version was battered, again similar to Long John Silvers' style, and was cooked perfectly. It was nicely seasoned, the batter was crisp, the fish was moist and delicious.

I was thrilled to finally be served macaroni and cheese again. Nearly every fry had it last year, and I was missing it. St. James was serving up a very creamy version made with Velveeta. The macaroni was not overcooked at all. It was a perfect side to the fried fish. I would have liked more, but I didn't go back for seconds. The french fries were medium thickness and still had the potato skin on them, which I love. They were crisp and topped with a light dusting of seasoned salt. Usually I don't have a problem skipping over the french fries, just eating one or two. This time, I ate all that I was given. The slaw was not the typical white mayo variety, but rather was made with more vinegar and probably a little horseradish - it was tangy and a little spicy. It was very good and an nice alternative to the typical slaw available at most fries.

To top off this already successful fish fry, there a bake sale although sadly the baked goods were not homemade. But they were only asking for $1 per item, and they had a variety of things to choose from: cherry pie, apple pie, German chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, and carrot cake. By the time I got there, they were out of the cherry pie, and when I asked if they had more they said no but that they did have a french apple, and would I like for them to cut into that? Yes, yes I would. It was very good. I also got some tea with dessert and noticed that it was not just regular black tea, but had a subtle black current flavor. How nice.

I give this Lenten fish fry four out of five Ichthus.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Notre Dame Roman Catholic Parish

March 16, 2007

Annual Fish Fry

Notre Dame School Gym

2190 S. Sheridan Blvd. Denver, CO 80219
Cost: Adults $8.00, Seniors 62+ $6.75, Kids 12 and under $5.75, Kids under 4 are free
Mar. 16 & 30th; 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.

This really was the smallest Lenten fish fry I have been to so far. The school gym had plenty of tables, but only a handful people were eating, most of them elderly. There was a group of girls playing in the gym near by -- apparently kids here do not like fish.

On the menu was fried fish, potato cakes, cole slaw, and rolls. Soda was available for an additional $2, but lemonade and water were free. We found one of the many available tables and took a seat. This was the smallest Lenten meal I'd been served so far too. I did get two pieces of fish, however, which was battered and reminiscent of Long John Silvers'. It was very crispy but the fish had a slight milky taste to it, which apparently means the fish was slightly undercooked. It wasn't bad, but would have been better cooked just a couple of more minutes. The potato cakes reminded me of the ones available at Arby's. They were good - crispy and flavorful. I could have eaten two, but was only given one. The cole slaw looked like typical white creamy slaw, but had a slightly sweet flavor - more sweet than savory actually. The rolls were just store-bought, but were handed to us by a sweet elderly woman whose only job appeared to be roll giving. She seemed to enjoy the job, though.

There was no bake sale at this event (and I'm not sure why, what with all the elderly ladies around - don't they love to bake?), but there were free brownies for dessert. Some looked cake-y and other fudge-y. I took a fudge-y one. It really hit the spot. I wanted another, but when we left there were only about six left and there were probably about 15 people in the gym so I thought it better to not take a second. It sure was good though.

This fish fry takes the record for quickest meal. We were in and out in probably 20 minutes. We only left because the girls playing in the gym had found a basketball, and we didn't want to get hit in the head.

I give this Lenten fish fry two Ichthus.

Friday, March 16, 2007

St. Thomas More Catholic Church

March 9, 2007

Knights of Columbus Fish Fry

St. Thomas Moore Church Gym

8035 S. Quebec Street, Centennial, CO 80112
Cost: Adults $8.50, children under 12 $6.00, children under four are free
Take out is available
Feb. 23 - Mar. 30, 4:30 - 7:30 p.m.

The church gym was crowded with tables and families, but this fry was a bit smaller than some I've been to lately. We were greeted by the sight of a banquet table loaded with serve-yourself food, including four different varieties of fish, which seemed like an exciting prospect. For one price we got the fish, tater tots, baked potato with all the fixings, baked ziti, soup, cole slaw, and dessert. To drink there was lemonade, water, and tea. Wine, beer, and softdrinks were also available for $2.

We loaded up our plates, found a seat at a crowded table, and inspected our dinners. We had fried battered perch, a baked "Lake Victor" perch, fish sticks, and something that looked like a hush puppy. The battered fish was crispy, but not very hot and needed salt. It was also dry - quite dry. I had to eat it with my hands because I couldn't break off pieces with my fork. The baked fish was overcooked and also very dry despite resting in its juices. It had a salty flavor, but the dryness was overwhelming. The fish stick was also pretty dry and didn't have much flavor, but it was shaped like a shark so that was fun and I bet the kids who ate them didn't care anyway. Then came the hush puppies... or so I thought. I wasn't sure what I was eating. It was very moist and savory, lots of herbs and seasoning, almost overly seasoned. I took a few more bites. Though I still wasn't sure what it was exactly, even after eating two of them, this was the most flavorful item on the menu.
Indeed it did turn out to be fish; something they called "Rainbow Trout Treasures" (although not very much trout went into these treasures, mostly breading).

The second most flavorful item on the menu was the tater tots. These were just store-bought tater tots, but they were golden brown and delicious. A nice side to a fish stick shaped like a shark, I thought. The baked ziti was not over cooked, but was in just an average meatless tomoato sauce. It was nice to have it as a side however, and also as an option for vegetarians. The slaw was just your average store-bought slaw. It was fine, but nothing spectacular.

When first serving myself the soup, I wondered aloud if it was clam chowder or potato. A man in line (apparently for seconds) said, "It's supposed to be clam chowder." I took a bite and still was not convinced it was clam chowder. Two, three, four bites... finally as I had just about finished my entire bowl of soup, I got a small piece of clam on my spoon. Perhaps it had fallen by accident into the potato soup.

Dessert was included in the price of the meal, but there was only one option: store bought carrot cake. It was not bad, but I would have preferred the variety of a bake sale.

I give this Lenten fish fry two Ichthus.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Spirit of Christ Catholic Community

March 2, 2007

Knights of Columbus Fish Fry

Spirit of Christ Catholic Community Spirit Center
7400 W. 80th Ave. Arvada, CO

Cost: $5.00
March 2 & 23, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

One thing this fry has going for it is the price. At only five dollars a person, this is one of the least expensive fish fries. The enthusiastic man who took my money was trying to explain to me that this is a "community" and not a parish, so they don't try to make money from fish fries or things like bake sales (unfortunately...) but I didn't really understand and frankly I was hungry and it was nearing the end of the dinner. I decided to eat instead of discussing things like how exactly they can afford to pay their bills.

On the menu at this community was fried fish, baked fish, mashed potatoes, and cole slaw. I had heard a mention of rice, but they must have run out by the time I got to the service line. Once again, there was no vegetarian or "kid's" option like grilled cheese. Also, there was no dessert. The beverages available were water, lemonade, and iced tea. I made myself an Arnold Palmer.

The fried fish was clearly frozen - evident by the familiar not-quite-triangle shape and also because one of the servers later in the evening mentioned defrosting too much fish. It wasn't horrible, but you can get better by buying Van de Kamps at the grocery store. The baked fish was almost flavorless. I assume there was some salt on it, but not much else. I could see pepper but could not taste it. Unlike other places, they don't bother with anything special to top their baked fish like capers or herbs. The result was disappointing. Lemon wedges were handed out liberally but, unlike Jesus, they cannot work miracles. The potatoes were slightly mashed red potatoes. I'm not a potato fan, but that being said, these could have used more flavor I think. The cole slaw was average.

The Spirit Center was buzzing with activity even though we arrived late, presumably with people who wanted to eat quickly before Stations of the Cross started at seven o'clock. We ate our dinners and were offered seconds on fried or baked fish, since they had defrosted too much. Despite the bargain, this fish fry left me wanting a better dinner... and dessert.

I give this Lenten fish fry one out of five Ichthus.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Parish

February 23, 2007

Knights of Columbus Fish Fry

St. Francis Caribini Church Hall

6673 W. Chatfield Ave. Littleton, CO 80128
Cost: $8.50 for fish dinner only
All Fridays of Lent, 5:00 - 7:30 p.m.

As soon as we walked into the parish hall, we were asked for our order. Apparently, this church gets many regulars because we didn't even know what was on the menu, but we were told we had a choice of baked or fried fish, rice or french fries, and clam chowder (which cost $2 extra). Cole slaw comes standard with every meal. Sadly unless you paid for more than one meal, it didn't seem like you could get one of everything, as is standard for me at these events. There was no "kids" meal or vegetarian alternative (usually grilled cheese). I opted for fried fish and rice, and paid extra for the clam chowder.

By the time we'd paid and walked the few yards over to the food counter, they had our order and were serving up the plates. Despite being pretty crowded in the room, there was no line - perhaps due to the efficient order-taking staff.

Served up in a parish hall, it was a pretty typical Lenten fish fry but adding to the ambiance was the live music performed by a man playing guitar and singing. I didn't recognize all of the songs he sang, but I do believe "Amazing Grace" was part of the repertoire. Water was available at the table, and beer and wine were also offered for $2. The fish was pretty standard battered white fish: crispy golden brown with good flavor. The portions were generous. The rice was of the
long grain white variety and needed some salt and pepper, but was seasoned with some diced green and red pepper. It was a nice alternative to french fries, but missed was the standard macaroni and cheese usually offered at these things. The cole slaw was very good; it had a very nice flavor and was perfectly dressed, not too creamy. The clam chowder was a very creamy, New England style soup with lots of clam. It had a nice savory flavor and actually turned out to be my favorite part of the meal. After we were nearing the end, a Knight of Columbus asked us if we wanted seconds on anything. I was too full, but it was nice to be asked.

Although I didn't partake this time, there was a bake sale. Friendly-looking church ladies were serving up homemade cupcakes, slices of what looked like lemon pound cake, and pecan pie. The selection was somewhat small, but we were there a bit late (Stations of the Cross was about to begin as we were leaving) so perhaps it was picked over.

I give this Lenten fish fry three out of five Ichthus.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Church of the Good Shepherd

April 7, 2006

Lenten Fish and Chips

Good Shepherd Catholic School

2626 E. 7th Avenue Parkway, Denver, CO
Cost: $7.50/adult, $4.50/child
All Fridays of Lent, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

When we drove up to this fish fry, it was evident that this was a popular event. We parked on the street and had to park a couple of blocks away. As soon as we paid, we were in the line for food that didn't let up all evening. On the menu was baked and fried fish, baked potato, french fries, macaroni and cheese, and cole slaw. Dessert was included with the dinner as well. Drinks included coffee, punch or water; beer and wine were available for an extra $2. They also had condiments including sour cream and butter for the potato, lemon slices, malt vinegar, cocktail sauce, ketchup, and tartar sauce.

Served on school cafeteria lunch trays in a school cafeteria, this food is not homemade. Nevertheless, everything was delicious. The baked fish was a white fish made with lemon pepper, capers and parsley. This was my favorite baked fish of the lenten season so far; it had plenty of flavor and didn't need additional seasoning. The fried fish was a crunchy battered catfish with plenty of savory flavor (it didn't even need salt). The only problem was it was fried just a bit too long, but it was still good. The baked potatoes were just your normal potato, but it was nice that the condiments were available to top them. The french fries were thick cut, dusted with seasoned salt, and very good - they didn't even need ketchup. The macaroni and cheese, while not homemade, was creamy and cooked to perfection. The cole slaw was creamy, but pretty good and was made with mayonnaise that almost had a buttery taste. After dinner, we visited the dessert table from which they were serving frozen custard from The Daily Scoop. There was also chocolate syrup to top the custard. There were even coupons for The Daily Scoop available. And just in case someone doesn't like frozen custard, there were coolers filled with Blue Bunny ice cream novelties including Heath ice cream bars, drumstick cones, two different kinds of ice cream cups (one with no sugar) and bomb pops! I wanted to sample all of the ice cream treats, but unfortunately (or fortunately) the custard filled me up.

This was the largest fish fry I've been to this Lenten season. The food was all-you-can-eat, but the line never let up, so going back for seconds meant waiting in the line again. However, it moved pretty fast. There were probably about around 200 people in the cafeteria the entire time, but there were plenty of tables and we had no problem finding a place to sit. No one sat next to us or talked to us this time, probably because of the size of the event, so it was a little more impersonal than other fish fries have been, but the food was good so I didn't mind.

I give this Lenten fish fry four out of five Ichthus.