CINCINNATI - Each week throughout Lent we join contributor Paige Malott as she and her friends track their adventures in their Fish Fry passports. Along the way Paige will rate the offerings on a scale of one to five.
Burlington church offers up a decadent deal
After an enticing meal last week in Price Hill, we ventured back to the west side to try out another legendary fish fry: St. Therese Parish Little Flower Church in Mt. Airy . One of the most elusive for information, Little Flower was a challenge to research on the web. Fortunately, it came with a good recommendation from a pair of fellow #FFFCincy members so we decided to check it out based on word-of-mouth.
- Do you tweet? Use the hashtag #FFFCincy to follow the Tri-State Fish Fry Tour!
Not knowing much going in, I was expecting a small, quaint church tucked away in the neighborhood. Actually, Little Flower is anything but little. The massive church and grounds cover several acres of land; the compound even has its own street name. This was easily the biggest venue we've visited during Lent.
Inside we encountered some of the largest crowds this fish fry season. Little Flower is organized and under control.
First, we approached an ordering table, with a giant menu plastered behind the cashiers. We filled out dining slips and walked through the cafeteria while cooks read the orders and prepared each tray. Side dishes were scooped fresh from slow cookers, a sure indicator that everything was made from scratch. Two giant condiment tables lined the lunchroom, featuring homemade tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, and all the fixings.
It was a little tough to find seating for our whole party. Seven of us crowded around one table while another four sat at an table nearby.
Little Flower is known for its fish sandwiches on North College Hill Bakery salted rye bread, I eagerly indulged in my entree--only to be somewhat disappointed. The fish filet was small and only filled up half of the sandwich. A portion of the bites ended up being just bread, and while I do enjoy fresh baked goods, the disproportion left something to be desired.
As for the side dishes, those slow cookers had us fooled. The green beans were canned Green Giant brand with no seasoning, and the mac n' cheese was instant Kraft. Both were bland and could easily be improved with a little salt and spices.
On the bright side, the hush puppies and fries were incredible. For $2, we shared a heaping basket of 10 hush puppies, crispy on the outside, warm with golden cornmeal on the inside. While most places do standard french fries for a side, Little Flower had savory potato wedges, a welcome improvement.
Fish fry diners at Little Flower can add both beer and dessert to their meal, with brew choices from Budweiser and Yuengling. A bake sale benefiting the Art Club was chock full of a variety of desserts: including blueberry pie, brownies, marble cake, and cupcakes.
Bonus: Little Flower ranks as our cheapest fish fry of the year. Two people can get a full entree platters, plus two a la carte sides for only $15, compared to the average $18 per pair elsewhere. The church earns points for friendliness, as we were welcomed graciously as soon as we stepped through the front door. Parishioners also checked in on us during our meal to see how things were tasting, just like at a restaurant.
Overall, this was a straight up the middle, average fish fry. Season those side dishes and add an extra filet to the sandwich and Mt. Airy could become a leader on the fish fry scene. For now, we're giving Little Flower a 3 out of 5 in our Fish Fry Passport.
In considering which venues to visit, the Fish Fry finders look for the following information from a church or organization:
- Detailed menu with types of fish, list of side dishes and beverages
- Specialty dishes or themes that make a venue unique
- Dessert: are there multiple sweets to choose from, like at a bake sale, or is just one item offered?
- Is beer or wine available?