Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fishing season is over, but ...

Thank you, anonymous, for providing the heads up regarding Blessed Sacrament's fish fry. As confirmed by phone, they're not having a fish fry this Friday. They did have a fish fry last year on Good Friday, but felt they didn't have the volume to justify the effort to do it this year. Consequently, the Lenten fishing season at Grand Rapids area Catholic parishes is over.

And quite frankly, the novelty for us wore off. While we enjoyed the various fish fries, partaking in the communities, hedging our bets with the 50/50 raffles, and smuggling in our beer, there are other things to do in Grand Rapids on a Friday evening. Maybe we should consider refocusing this blog to other fish to fry and explore inexpensive or no-cost things to do in the area. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

St. Jimmy's and this week's destination

The eternal flame of fish fries -- Sterno.
St. James
733 Bridge St., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Date and time of visit: April 8, around 6 p.m.
Parking: lot adjacent, also on Bridge Street
Accessibility: no stairs
Cost: $8.50, adults; $6.50, seniors (60 and older); $4.50, kids 5-12; under 4, free

Wait: about 10-15 minutes
Tables: round tables

Gambling opportunities: 50/50 raffle. None of us won, even though we bought tickets. Raffle winners were not announced.

Note the divided plate
It had been a few weeks since your faithful correspondents gathered together to attend a fish fry (although one did enjoy a delicious halibut fish taco while in San Diego, at a great restaurant/nightclub named Revolver on 5th Street). We ended up having seven at the gathering on April 8, including a fish fry noviate. 

Loading up at St. James
St. James runs a reliable operation. Both the fried and baked are equally tasty, and having the option of new potatoes (alas, not red skins this year) was nice. Fries, mac and cheese, and cole slaw (of course) rounded out the offerings. Desserts were available for an extra charge. We poured Founder's Dirty Bastard for those who wished to imbide.

Several carbohydrate options
were available
We garnered a table right next to the buffet line, so we were able to keep an eye on the action while enjoying our meal. A priest stopped by our table to welcome us, which we thought was a nice touch. At one point we heard a woman singing above din of conversations. It was a little curious but pleasant. Shortly thereafter a young woman came by our table and introduced herself as Mary Barracuda and said she was the vocalist. She was one of the kitchen workers, and asked how we were enjoying our meal. She confessed to having a fondness for the macaroni and cheese (which this writer felt had a suspicious amount of yellow dye number 5 or 6 so was avoided) and was eager for things to slow down so she could enjoy some. Interesting.

Earlier this year we were told that some churches hired caterers to run their fish fries. No doubt the parishes, like other volunteer organizations, are running short on finding people to donate time.  We hadn't run into this before, but it was apparent that St. James joined this trend because the kitchen staff were wearing garb with the name of a caterer.  It happens.

As to this week's destination -- well, there isn't one. Your correspondents are opting to attend  Art Downtown instead. But look for us at Blessed Sacrament on Good Friday, the 22nd.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

This week's destination: St. James

St. James
733 Bridge St., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

(616) 458-3213

click here for map

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

The "fry" is held in the school building to the northeast of the church. Let's plan to meet there around 6 p.m. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

St. Isidore's

Serving it up at St. Isidore's
St. Isidor's
625 Spring, N.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Date and time of visit: March 17, around 6 p.m.

Parking: lot adjacent to gym where the "fry" is held

Accessibility: no stairs

Cost: $8, adults; $7, seniors; $6; kids 4-11, $5; under 3, free; desserts extra (donation jar)

Wait:  About 10-15 minutes
Tables: banquet tables with chairs

Gambling opportunities: 50/50 raffle, also raffle for free fish fry tickets. Even though we were there until past 7 p.m., raffle winners were not announced. A bit disappointing because we actually bought some tickets this time.

The St. Isidore meal
We always look forward to going to St. Isidore's as their macaroni and cheese has been exceptional. Maybe it's due to your correspondent having the best M&C in the state the previous weekend (from the Union Grill in Clarkston), because this year's M&C at St. Izzy was wanting. We even got seconds to sample a different batch, but it too seem underdone. It wasn't awful, but not memorable. Advice to the chefs at St. Isidore: make sure the M&C spends enough time in the oven so it develops that lovely crust on top.

But it's really about the fish. At St. Isidore's this year, the fried fish was hands down better than their baked. The baked fish was bland, totally void of any seasoning, but maybe that's why some people prefer it  because they want something that tastes like nothing. However, the fried fish was quite good, although it didn't quite make up for the stale rolls and so-so French fries. We brought some of Short's Brewery Huma-Lupa-Licious beer which went nicely with our meal, so all was not lost.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

This week's destination: St. Isidor

St. Isidor's
625 Spring, N.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

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

We'll meet there around 6.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bag o' baked

St. John Vianney School
4101 Clyde Park, S.W.
Wyoming, MI 49509
click here for a map
(Located on the west side of Clyde Park (across from Resurrection Cemetery), between 36th and 44th streets.)

Date and time of visit: March 11, 2011, around 6 p.m.

Parking: large lot adjacent to school

Accessibility: apparently there is an elevator. Otherwise it could be challenging; a "Disneyland-esque" line that went behind the upper level gymnasium bleachers and down some stairs to get to the “village hall,” the basement-level (lunch?) room.

Cost: $8, adults; $7, seniors 60+, $6; kids 4-12, $5; under 4, free
Price includes dessert (ice cream cups, although they ran out of chocolate while we were there)

Wait: A reasonable 10-15 minutes

Tables: banquet tables with chairs; area set aside for wheelchairs

Gambling opportunities: 50/50 raffle—tickets. The prize that night was $300.

- well-organized
- stylish aprons
- beverages, seconds, and dessert brought to the tables
- we stayed long enough to be offered bags of left-over baked potatoes to take home

It's been a couple years since we visited SJV, but it was as well organized and efficiently run as we remembered. Even though there was quite a crowd, we were able to find six seats together.

The dinner was organized cafeteria-style. Offerings included fried or baked cod, baked potato or French fries, cole slaw, and a roll. Tartar sauce was offered at the end of the serving line, and individual servings of margarine, sour cream, and industrial sized ketchup bottles were available at the tables. Malt vinegar and lemons were also provided.

This time, the consensus was that the baked cod was better to the fried. "Very nicely seasoned," commented one of your reviewers. No one tried the fries this time, but the baked potatoes were perfectly done. We gave the rolls a passing grade and can't remember if there was macaroni and cheese; we're holding out for St. Isadore's M&C this coming Friday.

Cheerful colored fish decorated the walls, and the tables all had nice vases of fresh flowers. Again, roving chefs carried trays of fish fresh out of the fryer and SJV students were quick to remove trays and trash, helping to keep the busy dining area uncluttered and relatively clean. And it was busy; over 1200 dinners were served that evening.

As far as beverages, we enjoyed Detroit Beer Co.'s Sanders Chocolate Lager that was in your correspondent's refrigerator, leftover from another event. It went surprising well with the cod.

Next week's destination:
St. Isadore's.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mapping the FF

The Grand Rapids Press has posted a map of area fish fries on their website. It includes non-church fish fries, such as American Legion Post ones. The map and link follow.

I think we need to check out St. Catherine's in Ravenna. They note that "a hand-made automatic fish breading machine designed by a church member will debut March 11." Fish fry technology!

View Grand Rapids-area Lenten fish fries in a larger map

Monday, March 7, 2011

Almost famous

MLive posted a link to our humble but helpful blog. Wow, we're almost famous.

Lent begins late this year, which means we may have fewer snowstorms to encounter as we go fishing.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Opening day: March 11

The fish fry season opens March 11! Don't know what will be our first stop this year but we'll post it as soon as we figure it out.

BTW, did you see the piece in the Grand Rapids Press about fish fries? I would post a link to it here but their website is too frustrating to search. Anyway, they asked that readers let them know of fish fries so they can check them out and rate them! How original is that? 

Bet they won't suggest a brew to bring along ...