Sunday, April 5, 2009

Better late than never: St. James review

St. James
733 Bridge N.W., just west of downtown
held in the (former school) gym
Click here for map

Date of visit: March 13, 2009

Beer-battered Pollock
Baked Lemon-Peppered Pollock
Seasoned Fries
Macaroni & Cheese
Cole Slaw
Garlic Toast
Lemonade/Fruit Punch/Iced Tea & Coffee
Cookies - 5 for $1.00

Parking and lines - parking a challenge; lineup of ticket purchasers was still "out the door" at 6:20 pm. 

Our experience at St. James was markedly improved over 2008.  We had great fish, both fried and baked, but we preferred the fried  (don't we always?).  Redskins and fries were both very good, and it's nice to have the redskins as an alternative.  Fries were nice and HOT.  Can I say again, the fried pollock was delicious!!

There was a special "no waiting" table for getting seconds.  However, food moves off this table a little more slowly, so it's not quite as hot and crispy as the original.  Mac 'n Cheese -- you're not missing anything -- save room for the fish and potatoes.

Highlights unique to St. James:

  • Roy Schmidt bussing tables
  • Decor -- Mosaic-style painted crucifix, reminiscent of Orthodox iconic painting
  • Homemade cookies looked delicious but we had no room after all the good fish.

Would we go back?  We sure would.

The final destination: Blessed Sacrament

Blessed Sacrament
2233 Diamond, N.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
north of Knapp, between Fuller and Plainfield

4:45 -- 7:00 p.m.

Because April 10 is Good Friday, the fish fry will not be serving seconds.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

St. Izzy's mac & cheese rules!

St. Isador's

625 Spring, N.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

click here for a map
(The church is on Diamond, N.E., but the fish fry is held in the former St. Isador School gym on Spring, N.E.)

Date and time of visit: April 3, around 5:45 p.m.

Parking: parking lot adjacent to gym and on street; not too bad

Accessibility: one little step

$8.00, adults
$7.00, seniors
$5.00, kids 5-11; under 5, free

Desserts available (donation suggested)

Wait: about 10 minutes

Tables: banquet tables with folding chairs

Gambling opportunities: 50/50 raffle

Chocolate opportunities: "World's Best Chocolate" bars 

  • macaroni and cheese
  • lemon slices
  • the only fish fry we've been to that had a climbing wall

The decision to abort West Catholic High School's fish fry was wise. St. Izzy's macaroni is not to be missed. It's seasoned with something (a pinch of nutmeg?) that sets it apart from others, and if you're lucky, a little crust from spending time in the oven complements the creaminess nicely. Next year we might skip the fish altogether and just get the mac and cheese, although the fried pollack is pretty tasty too. French fries, rolls, and cole slaw (of course) rounded out the menu, along with the usual fluids and milk. Our fluid of choice was the recently released Bell's Oberon. 

We ate off styrofoam plates and used plastic cutlery. A couple centrally located tables held tartar sauce, malt vinegar, ketchup, and lemon slices (a nice feature). 

There was no problem getting a table for our group of seven, the queue moved quickly, and there was virtually no wait for seconds. The crowd wasn't as big as it was last year, perhaps due to the St. Isador school closure. It, along with St. Al's school, became part of All Saint's Academy, housed at what was Blessed Sacrament school. Last year there was a steady stream of enthusiastic school-aged helpers seeking to refill our beverages and whisk away empty plates. Too bad; their presence and art work made it more festive. Plus we had to bus our own table. 

Still, this is one of the best parish fish fries around, and a good one for one of our party's maiden voyage into the world of GR fish fries. 

Be sure to see the article from the Grand Rapids Press  (March 28--and the article also has a link to this blog!)  about fish fries. We're not alone!