Friday, March 22, 2013

Review: Blessed Sacrament

Hey all, it's the last Friday for Fish Frys and we're feeling bittersweet. On one hand, it's another chapter of our lives past, and after today we'll have to wait a whole year before we can stuff our faces with fish in church gymnasiums again. On the other hand spring is coming (so we're told) and we're craving fresh veggies, sunshine, and a run. But all that aside, let's talk about last week's visit to our reigning number one favorite Fish Fry: Blessed Sacrament.

Blessed Sacrament is killing it you guys. Going back, I was a little afraid of being let down. Like, maybe I remembered it was better than it was, or last year was a fluke. Either way, all of the just-okay Fish Frys this year had me feeling like there was no way Blessed Sacrament could really be as awesome as I remembered. Boy was I wrong. Blessed Sacrament knows what they're doing, I mean their fish game is tight. It's Cod you guys. Cod. I mean Whitefish, and Pollock, and Perch are fine, but Cod? Cod rules. I understand why it's not used often, it's way more expensive than those other fishes, but thank you Blessed Sacrament for knowing when to splurge on good fish.

This photos aren't the best (yeah iPhone 4) but check out that crispy breading… This isn't an all-you-can-eat event, but some nice volunteers did come around and offer us extras from the kitchen. Not that I needed them, I was stuffed. Like, uncomfortably full. Not only that, but I still felt full going to bed that night. Not that I vouch for eating to the point of illness (although sometimes I do) but my point is that you won't be left wanting.

Our non-fish-eating (don't ask me) friends were happy to have pasta and breadsticks to eat and the salad bar is a nice addition. All you need to know is everything here is good. We shared a 312 Bourbon County Stout, which is a CRAZY beer you guys. I like boozy beers, but wow, this one was too much for me. Chris and the other guys liked it a lot though, I think it's a pretty special beer.

Tonight we'll be capping off the season with a visit to the Knights of Columbus on Muskegon Ave.

Blessed Sacrament
2275 Diamond Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505

Arrival time:
Wait: <10 minutes
Parking Lot
Cost: adult fish $8.00; adult pasta $6.00; children’s dinner (ages 4-12) $4.00; 3 and under are free
Take-out: Yes
Tables: Long cafeteria style

Would we go back? You know it!

Ok, for real one criticism though. If anyone at Blessed Sacrament reads this, PLEASE do not post your Fish Fry flyer as a .pub file. PDF would be the way to go on this one.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Review: Ravenna Community Fish Fry

Last week we made the 40 (40!) minute drive out to Ravenna for one very important reason: we had to see Gene Helsen's fish breading machine. And that, we did.

Check out this video of the machine in action!

The fish are placed on the hooks by a volunteer, then they travel into the first chamber, which coats them in flour. It's like a tiny flour tornado in there. After that they are dipped in batter and go into the second chamber which coats them in breading. Gene said it took him a year to build the contraption at home, and they've been getting positive feedback ever since. "People say the fish tastes better now because there's less breading and you can taste the fish more," Gene told us.

We agree. The Ravenna Community Fish Fry, which is held at St. Catherine's Hall and is hosted by a different group each Friday serves up some good fried perch. No baked fish here people, because obviously you wouldn't need a breading machine for that. The sides are pretty standard: french fries or baked potato, cole slaw, green beans, garlic bread, and desert. This is not an all-you-can-eat event, but my portion was plenty. Beverages offered are water, fruit punch, and coffee. We brought along some Founders Centennial IPA.

We had a great time. Thank you Ravenna Senior Parents and thank you to Gene for taking us behind the scenes to see his amazing invention!!

Ravenna Community Fish Fry
3381 Thomas St
Ravenna, MI 49451

Arrival time:
Wait: <5 minutes
Parking Lot (You guys, we parked on dirt. It's the country.)
Cost: $10.00 for Adults, $5.00 for Children 5-12, Free for Children under 5
Take-out: Yes
Tables: Long cafeteria style

Would we go back? The only reason we wouldn't is the drive.

Tonight we return to Blessed Sacrament like the prodigal son. We'd love if you came too!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Review: Holy Trinity

As part of our plan to reach more of the West Michigan area fish fries, last Friday we took a trip to Holy Trinity in Comstock Park. With rather large group of 7, we reached out destination around 6pm to find a well attended fish fry. After a $10 charge (the most we've paid so far this year) and a manageable wait of about 10 minutes we were ready to collect our choices in a served buffet style line.

The menu is standard fish fry fare: fried and baked pollock, bread, macaroni and cheese, green beans, homemade coleslaw, and french fries.  Beverages were available in pitchers at every table consisting of as always lemonade and water. Our beverage of choice was a milk stout that was homebrewed by yours truly.

The consensus in our group was that the food was not great. We love fried fish but found this round to be lack-luster. Small portions and pieces with more breading than fish and not a lot of flavor.  The mac and cheese was just okay as were the green beans and bread.  The homemade coleslaw and tartar sauce were pretty rad but they couldn't make up for $10 admission fee. This was an all you can eat fish fry, and most of us did get seconds, but without much enthusiasm.

However, we still had a great time. Lenten fish fries are not always about the just the food but the experience. There was a good, welcoming atmosphere and sense of community.  We ate, we drank, and were merry.

Would we go back? Probably not, but that doesn't mean you can't check it out for yourselves, if only to prove us wrong.

We will be witnessing the next generation of fish fries tonight, boldly going where no man has before: a fully automated fish breading machine at St. Catherine's of Ravenna. Yeah, that's a thing.

Holy Trinity Catholic Church 
1200 Alpine Church Rd NW
Comstock Park, MI 49321

Arrival time:
Wait: <10 minutes
Parking Lot
Cost: $10.00 for Adults, $9.00 for Seniors, $5.00 for Children (immediate family max of $45)
Take-out: Yes
Tables: Long cafeteria style

Would we go back? Honestly, no.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fish Breading Machine (Seriously!)

(image credit Matt Gade, The Muskegon Chronicle)

You guys, have you SEEN this? Gene Helsen (now my personal hero) invented a MACHINE that BREADS AND BATTERS FISH to make the Ravenna Community Fish Frys more efficent. Hello, why hasn't this man been canonized yet?! I mean, I know technically you're supposed to be dead first, but I think we can make an exception here.

This guy is going down in Fish Fry history, and we cannot wait to visit the Ravenna Community Fish Fry this Friday to see this beauty for ourselves.

Check out the full 2011 MLive story on Gene and his machine here.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Tonight's Destination

Hey guys, tonight we're going to check out Holy Trinity in Comstock Park. We hope to see some of you there. Of course if you go to a Fish Fry and have something to share, leave a comment or shoot us an email.

Happy eating!

Review: Holy Redeemer

Hey all, happy Fish Fry-day! Today we have a review of Holy Redeemer in Jenison. We made the drive out there last Friday to check out their Fish Fry which is put on by the Knight of Columbus in the Activity Center.

We were drawn there because the menu is expansive guys, like they have broccoli. I love broccoli. Plus, not one, but TWO kinds of fried fish. Hello fried friends, get on my plate.

Despite the distance (kind of far away for us) we had a great time. We had a pretty big group (8) and luckily we were able to find a table to accommodate all of us. I mean, the place was packed, but we never had to wait more then a few minutes in line.The volunteers were super friendly too. They even have people who come around to refill your beverages. A few members of our group were digging the pink punch.

The food was good, I'd say a definite go-to if you're in the area. Personally I preferred the fried pollock to the fried perch. The perch was a little too chewy for me. But the pollock was flaky under the crispy batter. Mmmm… I really enjoyed the baked pollock as well. The mac and cheese was my favorite of the sides, gooey and rich. The broccoli was honestly a bit of a let down for me, although it probably would have been better with the melty cheese topping they had. Why did I turn down the cheese?! Momentary lapse of everything I hold dear, I have no excuse. They also have grilled cheese, rolls, coleslaw, baked potatoes and fries.

I for sure went up to the conveniently separate seconds station. And helped myself to some delicious brownies from the desert table, which is included in your ticket price. We brought along some Left Hand Sawtooth Ale, which is a pretty delicious brew.

Holy Redeemer Catholic Church
2700 Baldwin St.
Jenison, MI 49428

Arrival time:
Wait: <5 minutes
Parking Lot
Cost: $9.00 for Adults, $8.00 for Seniors (62+), $5.00 for Children (5-15)
Take-out: No
Tables: Circle

Would we go back? Yes, but it's a little out of the way for us.