As the revelry of Mardi Gras gives way to the solemn season of Lent, seafood-loving St. Louisans can rejoice: It's fish fry season. This year, we're checking out some of the area's Catholic churches to see what's cooking.
Epiphany of Our Lord: The "Best Kept Secret in Southwest City"
Monica Hunyar wears a pin of three gilded fish on her apron. "It was a gift from one of the old-timers," she explains. "His wife used to be really involved with fish fry, and when she passed, he gave it to me."
Hunyar's story pretty much sums up the tradition-steeped Epiphany of Our Lord (6596 Smiley Avenue; 314-781-1199) fish fry. For more than 50 years (Hunyar can't exactly recall, but she's certain it's been that long), the Clifton Heights parish has honored this Lenten tradition with a massive feast every Ash Wednesday and Friday during Lent, except Good Friday.
It's a three-day undertaking: Parishioners begin prepping the food the Wednesday before the Friday fry, making homemade sides and desserts to accompany the seafood extravaganza. "We call ourselves the best-kept secret in Southwest city," Henyar proudly states. Judging from the packed gymnasium, the cat(fish) is out of the bag.
The Food: In addition to the traditional fried cod, Epiphany serves cornmeal-crusted catfish, fried jack salmon and battered shrimp by the piece. The parishioners are proud of their homemade sides, including creamy mac & cheese (the highlight of the feast) and vinegary coleslaw. This fish fry is a bargain. A couple can eat for under ten bucks.
The Scene: Epiphany's fish fry is packed, with a line usually wrapping around the gymnasium. It's a welcoming crowd -- we wonder if this is because of the generous wine pours handed out for a mere $2.
Insider Tip: The catfish and mac & cheese are must-trys. Be sure to grab a piece of the gooey-butter-topped chocolate cake if you see it on the dessert line, and don't forget to buy your wine tickets when you pay for your food.