Who has the best Lenten fish fry? Your guide to fish dinners around town
A fish fry, hosted at the social hall of a Catholic church or fraternal organization, is an area Lenten tradition. They are fundraisers and community gathering places with traditions that go back decades. Here's as much information as I could find about fish fry dinners in the area, with reviews when I could locate them.
In general, an organization that will host these dinners will hold them during six weeks of Lent on Fridays, excluding Good Friday; this year, that means that the typical organization will start on Friday, March 11 and continue through April 15. The Dexter Knights of Columbus got an early start this year and began on Feb. 25.
Ann Arbor: St. Francis of Assisi, 2250 E. Stadium Blvd., between Packard and Washtenaw. 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Adults $8, seniors $7, kids 5-11 $5, under 5 free. Details in the March 6 St. Francis parish bulletin.
Augusta Township: St. Joseph Catholic Church, 9245 Whittaker Road, Ypsilanti, between Willis and Judd Road. Adults $8 for two pieces, or $9 all you can eat; kids mac and cheese $3; 5 and under free. Details in the Feb. 27 St. Joseph parish bulletin.
Dexter: Knights of Columbus, 8265 Dexter Chelsea Road. 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Adults $10, kids $5, kids under 5 free. Drive-through takeout $9. Meals include fried shrimp, pan-fried fish, baked fish and a salad bar and are all you can eat. A review of the 2010 fish fry from 20 minute garden: "It's kind of funny I suppose that Lent — a time traditionally associated with "giving up" something - also is the time of these fantastic, frequently all-you-can-eat dinners." The Dexter Patch has a preview.
Saline: St. Andrew the Apostle, 910 Austin Drive, off US-12 west of the Saline River. 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Adults $9, seniors $8, kids $5, kids under 5 free. Details in the March 6 St. Andrew's parish bulletin.
Whitmore Lake: Old St. Patrick's, 5671 Whitmore Lake Road, corner of Northfield-Church Road and Whitmore Lake Road just about one mile south of North Territorial. 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Adults $7.50, seniors $7, kids 5-11 $6.50, kids 4 and under free. Details in the March 6 Old St. Patrick's parish bulletin.
Ypsilanti: St. John the Baptist, 411 Florence St., one block north of West Cross between Hamilton and Ballard. 5:30 p.m to 7 p.m. Adults $6.50 for one piece fish plus mac and cheese, additional pieces $1 each; kids mac and cheese $3.50. Details in the March 6 St. John the Baptist parish bulletin.
Ypsilanti: Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 201 N. River St., two blocks north of Michigan Avenue and two blocks south of Depot Town. Wednesday, March 23 at 5:30 p.m. Details in the March Emmanuel Lutheran calendar. Served with the help of Boy Scout Troop 290.
View Ann Arbor area Lenten fish fry in a larger map
Drake's Crispy Fry Mix, is a mix made by the Drake's Batter Mix company of Marshall, Mich. Marshall is about 65 miles west of Ann Arbor along I-94, and as you get closer to it, you'll start to see billboards. The box has a distinctive bird logo, and the products are sold in local retail stores in addition to being widely distributed wholesale to food service establishments and available for Internet order through retailers like Meijer.
The recipe that Drake's provides for Drake's Breaded Cod Nuggets is clearly aimed at the restaurant business, because you are unlikely to have 35 pounds of liquid fry shortening waiting in your kitchen.
Without giving the whole story of how to fry fish, the secret in this recipe preparation is to use Sprite soda pop as the liquid for the mix. Why? It should add some sweetness, which will make the fish brown up well; it's probably also a lot more readily available in restaurants which have an endless supply of pop for sale but not so much in the way of actual ingredients in their fry kitchen.
Jiffy Mix, from the Chelsea Milling Co. in Chelsea, also has recipes for fry mix batters on their website. They offer two suggestions, one based on their buttermilk pancake mix, and a second based on their baking mix plus an egg.
What's your favorite fish fry? I'm using polling software from All Our Ideas which lets you add your own suggestions if the poll doesn't have all of your favorites.
Edward Vielmetti celebrates religious feast days for AnnArbor.com. Contact him at EdwardVielmetti@AnnArbor.com.