Fish aficionados wait patiently all year for Lent, the unofficial beginning of the “fish fry season.”
From now until April 22 (Good Friday), community fish fry suppers are a best bet for affordable, hearty dining. One of the oldest running in the area is found at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville. Here tradition rules the menu and the cooks still hand bread their famous jack salmon.
“We’re the only ones I know that still hand bread their jacks,” said Lil Vitale, whose been a parishioner and fry fish volunteer for 50 of her 90 years. “ You got to love’em (jack salmon) because we make them right.”
Joining jack salmon on the menu (and in the deep fryer) are catfish fillets, shrimp, cod fillets and nuggets. All are lightly breaded, fried golden brown and served with choice of tartar or red sauce, which for non-locals is a barbeque sauce. Cocktail sauce is available in packets on request. Baked Lemon Pepper Cod is the non-fried fish option. Other alternatives are New England-style clam chowder and cheese pizza, sold and priced as a side.
Numerous homemade sides are available, which are also prepared by the St. Francis volunteer cooks brigade who mix slaw, toss salad and simmer sauce. Sides offered: Mac and cheese, seasoned green beans, sweet n sour slaw, applesauce and meatless spaghetti. Homemade thick-cut potato chips are another pick that can be counted as one the two sides that are sold with each dinner. If you can’t decide on just two, pick three or more. Extra sides are $2 as an add-on to dinner plates ($7.50 -$8.50). Kids plates are $5. For those less hungry, catfish or cod sandwiches on white or rye bread are $4.
Dine-in communal seating is provided in the school gym/cafeteria that also houses three carryout lines. Scouts and church youth serve as bus staff. Church ladies work the optional wine and dessert tables while the men oversee the beer and soda stand in the lobby.
St. Francis Assisi Catholic Church is located at 4556 Telegraph Road. Serving hours: 4 – 7 p.m. Dinners will be each Friday through Good Friday.