A Friday night Lenten classic (Feb. 8 until Mar. 21)

February 6, 2008

Yes, today I’m writing about the St. Louis tradition of parish fish fries during Lent (which begins today, Ash Wednesday). They’re not quite free, but darn close. And the sheer range of experiences they offer is reason enough to make them your family’s Friday night entertainment for the next 40 days.

I have to start with the one nearest our house, St. Agatha’s at 9th and Utah. It’s home to a small Polish congregation, and early on the fish fries had Polish side dishes that gave them added flair. Last year, though, things got more traditional — the usual St. Louis sides — but I hope this year they’ll revert a little. We’ll find out Friday! The price, $6 for adults, is pretty standard. For directions and details about the church, visit its homepage.

Then I want to pitch the granddaddy of them all at St. Stephen Protomartyr — or so you’d think from its homepage, sporting no less than 15 sponsors, among them corporations and politicians and even a cruise operator. This one has a big menu — baked or fried cod, shrimp, hush puppies, mac n cheese, green beans, spaghetti — and do note the final items, BEER, just $1.50 a cup, and WINE, new this year at $2. Can’t beat that.

Word is that St. Ferdinand’s up in Florissant has the best fish fry around. I’ve never made it up there, but if you’re tempted, check out the menu here. I have been to St. Joan of Arc in south St. Louis, which tends to be my favorite for quality and quantity of food, especially desserts.

Regardless of their location, fish fries tend to be great for families — they’re at Catholic parishes, after all — and the packs of youngsters roaming around will always make room for a newcomer or two. However, the biggest and busiest need to keep turning the tables, and it’s hard to linger without feeling guilty about taking up valuable seats. (That’s my only beef with St. Joan of Arc.) For my money, the best ones are medium-sized, like St. Peter parish in Kirkwood. That fry runs monthly from October to May, but in Lent it, like the others, is weekly. (Note that some parishes have fries on Good Friday, but not all.)

While you’re out and about, keep an eye out for the Cod Squad, a group of young adults affiliated with Wash. U. who started an official fish-fry circuit two years ago. And if the fish-fry bug bites you, keep tabs on your favorites at the Ultimate Fish Fry blog.


One Response to “A Friday night Lenten classic (Feb. 8 until Mar. 21)”

  1. Thanks for the plug for the St. Boniface blog.

    Remember, you too can review your favorite fish fry. Last year, we had reviews from regular moms, dads and even Charlie Brennan from KMOX.

    See our post on what we’re looking for at http://stbonifaceonline.blogspot.com/2008/01/gone-fishin.html

    Webmaster, stbonifaceonline.com (and stbonifaceonline.blogspot.com)
    On the internet, we never close.

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