My, how quickly time flies... it seems like only yesterday when I was at St. Peters in Ashton, enjoying their wonderful fish fry... looking back, it wasn't "yesterday" - it was nearly two years ago!
I had the chance to revisit this fish fry a few weeks ago, and I'm proud to report that little has changed from the last visit. The fish is still awesome, the venue is still the same, it still only cost $11, and you will still require some patience...
When we arrived a few Fridays ago, we were greeted by a looooong line - so long, in fact, that we were required to begin our wait OUTSIDE of the church:
Thankfully, it was tolerable outside - the weatherman said it was something like 30F, and the winds were manageable...
Once inside, we purchased tickets and settled-in for our long wait by purchasing several $2 adult beverages. It floors me that you can buy cans of Miller Lite, Bud Light, and MGD while standing in a church... when we purchased our tickets for the fish, the kind gentleman who took our cash suggested that tonight's line was a "4-5 beer line" - that told us we should probably "stock-up" for the wait. In addition to the adult varietals, we purchased a few sodas and waters to help balance things out.
Here's a picture of the line... at this point, we had already waited for a solid hour:
As mentioned, the Ashton church fish fry will set you back about $11 per person... but be prepared to wait for your turn at the table. To say that this fry is popular would be like saying that Michael Jordan knows a thing or two about basketball... it's an absolutely crazy event. It doesn't help that the church only offers the fish fry on a handful of dates; it starts in late October, and averages one-per-month through April.
To help pass the time, there are numerous excellent art-exhibits, compliments of the students. You may or may not enjoy this art as much as we did:
Standing in line for nearly 2 hours will do strange things to a person. As we approached the dining area, I began to feel delirious - was it the excitement of knowing that succulent fish was waiting for me? Was it the influence of several beverages? Or was it the fact that everyone, including the numerous pictures and statues were giving me "the eye"?
Ok... so, that may not win me any favors with "the big man," but oh well. It's all in good fun.
Soon after taking that photo, we could see the dining area... this place knows how to pack-em-in... these are tables full of lucky souls, all enjoying the wonderful deep-fried cod from St. Peter:
Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs, we were lead to our table, where we were seated with 8-9 complete strangers. Waiting for us at the table were plates of fresh-fried cod, piping-hot fries, warmed green beans, and homemade bread.
By luck of the draw, we were seated with a complete fish-fry-animal... this "gentleman" looked like something from a ZZ Top video and was obviously there to inhale as much fish as humanly possible. I'm not exaggerating when I say that he honestly took 8-9 pieces of fish from the first plate, and that he lunged at people who dared take a piece for themselves.
As such, my fist plate looked like this:
...and that would be the theme for most of the meal... the hostesses would bring out a fresh plate of steaming-hot fish, and Mr. ZZ Top would promptly commandeer the plate, take 6-7 pieces for himself, and then begrudgingly relinquish the plate to the rest of us...
The fish itself was decent. Certain plates were phenomenal - fresh, flaky, lightly battered, fully flavored, and absolutely succulent. Other plates had clearly been over-cooked... the fish was dry, rubbery, and lifeless... it's probably the nature of the beast when you're trying to serve fresh, hot fish to a few hundred people at a time. I'm guessing certain plates sat longer than others prior to being served.
St. Peter's does nail the batter - every piece of fish featured the perfectly applied batter, with a hint of salt and pepper. It was never too thick nor too thin, and it clung to the fish without fail. The fish itself was also delicious - nary a sign of grease, and the fish was extremely mild yet flavorful. Quite honestly, the only thing that was occasionally "off" was the texture, and I blame that on the church trying to crank-out so much fish at once.
So, it goes to prove - it you land a good table with ordinary (read: human) people, and you can manage to snag fresh fish, you'll be in good shape at Saint Peters. But, if by some stroke of bad-luck, you happen to land at a table like mine, you'll suffer.
The fries - decent. Crinkle-cut, nicely fried, lightly salted. The canned beans - canned. Watery, warm, just like you had in the old grade school cafeteria. The bread -acceptable. I'm told the coleslaw was "passable."
At the end of our meal (Mr. ZZ-fishzilla was still going strong after 30-35 minutes of pounding fish), we accepted a small dessert - this piece of strawberry cake hit the spot:
Simple, and obviously homemade, it was the perfect end to our evening.
Despite being seated with Mr. Fish, I still endorse this fish fry with complete confidence. Its standing in the overall ratings stands strong.
St. Peters = WIN
Food = 4.0 stars
Service = 5.0 stars
Value = 5.0 stars
MISC = 3.0 stars
They only serve it once a month (on average) and they only serve for a few months per year, but it's worth the wait and price. Not every plate will be perfect, but all things considered, it's a damn solid fish fry (eeek! did I just just say that about a church-sponsored fish fry?!)...