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Fish Fry's

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Who else salvitated over the Trib's fish fry spread? I mean no disrespect to Catholics, but I just do not find eating fried fish a sacrafice in the least.

OK, foot in mouth inserting behind, where are the primo fish fry's out there? I'd be especially keen on places with fresh lake pearch, if such places even exist anymore. Frozen cod is a lesser option in my book (unless it's Greek style salt cod, fried, with a big helping of garlic sauce on the side).

And who is up for trying a couple?


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  1. I didn't see the article but think I may have to dig it up. I love the fish & chips at the Duke of Perth (clark & surf.) The fish - cod I believe - is alyways wonderfully crispy and tender, the fries/chips are delicious and served with the requiste malt vinegar. The side of peas are, well, traditional. On Wednesdays & Fridays, it's all you can eat for $7.95. Can't beat that.

    Plus they have great scottish beers on tap and a fantastic selection of single malts. The fried mushroom appetizer with horseradish sauce is really good too. In fact, all their food is really good. One of my very favorite places.

    Hmmmm... think I may go tonight :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Kaite

      James Ward reviewed the Summit VFW Fish Fry several years ago - but it sure looked great in the trib! Maybe I'll wait till the crows die down after Lent.

    2. Wish I could help with the fish fry; it is a dying breed. Couldn't even find a good one in the UP last summer.

      On sort of the same subject, I'd love to know who makes the best pepper and egg these days. IMO, they must be made to order -- crack a few eggs and fry with sweet and hot in the giardinera oil -- and placed on good beef bread. (As opposed to the greasy steam tray of scrambled eggs and wilted peppers used by many.) I had one the other day at Max's up on Western that met these criteria. The beef was also very good, maybe the best I've had on the north side. The reddish oil in Max's hot peppers is intriguing. Also, the sweet peppers are a mix of green and red and are not overcooked. Service was deadly slow and a milkshake was terrible, but the sandwiches were great. I owe Rene, I think, for the suggestion. Any other great lenten sandwiches, in the Loop, especially? And what about Mexican dishes specific to lent?

      11 Replies
      1. re: JeffB


        While Rene may have posted about Max's, you have to give Gary his props. How can you forget Gary's extensive giarniara reports and multiple pictures? IIRC, he just posted one about a month ago. Gary will work in one of those giardinara pictures every chance he can :)

        Gary, here's another Max's giardinara photo op...


        1. re: Al

          You are correct. My apologies.

          1. re: Al


            I like to receive my Chow props (did I really just use the word props?) as much as the next Chowhound, though in the end it really does not make any difference. ReneG has posted so many Chowworthy places that if one does not remember a specific attribution it's a fairly safe bet to assign credit to Rene.

            Speaking of Max's, I stopped in last week for take out broasted chicken, slightly after noon so it was fresh, Max's only makes broasted chicken twice a day, and while it was juicy, crisp and flavorful, I found it seriously over salted. I have eaten Max's broasted any number of times and never found it overly salty, but may, in the future, order one piece to eat there before buying a large take out order as I ended up tossing the majority of the chicken.

            Max's, on the other hand, has consistently excellent giardiniera and Italian beef sandwiches, ranking in my personal Chicago top 5.

            Giardiniera, you want a picture of Max's giardiniera, you can't handle the giardiniera! (smile)


            Image: http://www.sptsb.com/images/Max3.jpg

            1. re: G Wiv

              where can I buy a case of giardiniera? I am hooked, it is a must on my sandwiches.

            1. re: JeffB

              For a Mexican dish specific to Lent, last year at Taqueria el Gallo on Montrose just east of Drake Bowl (near Central Park) I enjoyed a patty of ground dried shrimp bound with egg and fried then served in a chile sauce. I think if you search for Cuaresma (Spanish for Lent) you will find the post.

              Also, their potato and nopales gorditas I cannot praise enough.

              1. re: annieb

                Egg Foo Young Tacos? I'm in.

              2. re: JeffB

                I've had enough bad experiences with Max's that I'll not return. Livery beef is my main complaint.

                Does anyone remember Cas & Lou's on Irving? They did a great pepper and egg. And does anyone know if Al's beef or Mr. Beef do pepper and egg during lent?

                1. re: JeffB
                  Vital Information

                  I am not a huge pepper and egg fan, and only partake occasionally. Maybe I *would* like fresh made sandwiches better, but I got to say that I do like Johnnie's version that is certainly not freshly made.

                  It seems to me that the extended time the eggs sit in the steam table at Johnnies softens the eggs and allows a full merger of flavors between the oil, green peppers and cooked eggs.

                  Johnies serves their pepper and eggs on fridays only, all year round.

                  1. re: Vital Information

                    I can't abide steam table eggs, especially scrambled. The eggs usually "break" from too much heat and handling, turning them into a heap of dry curds sitting in warm water.

                    1. re: JeffB
                      Vital Information

                      You should try Johnnies version and then see what you think. And if you do not like the pepper and eggs, you can always get a combo.

                2. I'm pleased the Trib highlighted a Joliet fish fry in today's food section, but it missed the best one. My wife "goes for fish" almost every Friday and ranks the Knights of Columbus Holy Trinity Council #4400 fish fry tops. East Side KC's, as it's known--there's a West Side KC's fish fry that doesn't taste the same--serves two or three (you choose) big pieces of softly breaded cod, fries often irresistible, white bread, and forgettable vinegar slaw. Shrimp and decent fried chicken are also available. Full bar, but don't expect imports or microbrews. The atmosphere is Brueghelesque, especially in the carry-out section, where union jackets and greasy boots predominate. The welcome is warmer than at Johnnie's Italian beef, but it helps to know that you seat yourself, that there's a back room, and that you're expected to be ready to order the first time a waitress comes to your table.

                  From Chicago, take 57 south to 80. Go west on 80 to the Briggs St. exit north. Go north on Briggs about four lights to Cass St. Turn right (east) onto Cass, which in a block will sweep a bit as you approach a viaduct. Slow down, find the East Side KC's sign on your left (the north side of Cass), and turn a hard left into the driveway which rises to the brown roadhouse. Drive carefully, as cars will be all over the pretzel-shaped lane. Expect to have to wait for a table after work during Lent, so consider going for a late lunch. (If you get too close to the viaduct and take the gently angled road to your left, you're in Pilcher Park, where you'll have to catch your own fish in Hickory Creek.)

                  East Side KC's
                  1813 East Cass St.
                  Joliet, IL 60432
                  Noon to at least 8:00 p.m. every Friday, year 'round

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Mugs

                    Just went to the fish fry on east side (KC) in Joliet. The crust on the fish was soggy and tasteless and the fish was really poor quality. The cole slaw is really awful, but the fries and bread are good. I'm sure this can't be the best place in the Joliet area for fish, let's find a better spot!

                  2. There's one way out in Sugar Grove that is well worth the trip. It's at the American Legion Hall but I don't know the address and I can't find it now. I'll try to repost it this week but will provide basic directions at the end.

                    The fish fry is held every Friday and I think it operates from 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM (some exceptions here and there). Choose between three types of fish (cod, perch and one other...can't recall), fried chicken, two types of cole slaw, german potato salad, baked beans, fries and applesauce for a mere $7.95 (I think...it was $5.95 at one point and I think they've raised the price. I'm just so anxious to get in the door I don't care how much $$ I hand over.) It's a great all-you-can eat affair served as only the Legion can; simple, no-fuss buffet, banquet tables in abundance. Find a seat and join the crowd.

                    They do all the prep work on site and continually dole out fresh product. Both the chicken and fish are wonderfully fresh and prepared with care. Get there early because they have run out of food in the past, especially during Lent.

                    I can give basic directions because I don't know where people would be coming from. It's located west of IL Route 47 just south of US 30. Heading from the intersection of Rt 47 and US 30, go south on Rt 47. Take a right at the first stop light south of US 30 (there's an Amoco/BP gas station on the southwest corner). Continue to the stop sign (short trip) and make a left. Cross the tracks and make an immediate right. You'll run into the legion hall.

                    If you're coming out from the city, it's quite a haul so plan in advance. Like I said, I'll try to get more details and will post them later this week.

                    1. The Tribune focused on the suburbs, places I rarely get to. Here are some comments on several spots in the city.

                      I have yet to find a better all-you-can-eat Friday fish fry in Chicago than Clancy’s (4264 N Lincoln). Very good beer-battered cod with good fries and cole slaw. The problem is that it’s gotten so popular there’s almost always a long wait even for space at the bar. I first learned of Clancy’s from Gary almost 5 years ago in chi.eats.

                      I wanted to try Duke of Perth, having heard good things about it. Problem is, they wouldn’t let me eat at the bar. Since I was alone, I didn’t feel like waiting in line then hogging a table by myself. Rules are rules, so I ate elsewhere.

                      I had a fine perch dinner at the Silver Palm (768 N Milwaukee), the train car restaurant next to the Matchbox (same owner). For $10 you get 5 small but plump pieces of lightly battered perch with some good fries and homemade tartar sauce. Also on the plate was a pile of carmelized root vegetables, really outstanding. They have a very nice wine list, with most being available by the glass. I’ve been a number of times and like this place quite a lot. I will write more about it soon.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Rene G

                        I read that Clancy's was really good, so I gave it a try about six months ago. I was really disappointed in the fish - the inside was still frozen. The people there, however, were the nicest. The bartender bought us our second round (and we hadn't complained about the fish). Maybe I'll give it another shot.

                        1. re: jenn b


                          I have been going to Clancy's for 4-5 years, once, and only once, that happened to me when they were incredibly busy, cold in the center fried fish. I pointed it out to our waitress, who promptly brought more fish, perfectly cooked, and bought our table of 6 a round of drinks on the house. Even the best of places make an error on occasion, I hope you enjoy Clancy's next time you are there. As an aside, on Wednesdays they have fried chicken, really good fried chicken. Not all you can eat, but the portions are quite large.


                          Clancy's Pub
                          4264 N. Lincoln
                          Chicago, IL

                        2. re: Rene G

                          How odd about the Duke - I've had food at the bar on more than one occasion. But maybe not specifically on a Friday night during their fish-fry frenzy.

                        3. i heard pilot pete's in schaumberg airport has a great fish fry on wed and fri. any comments?

                          1. Someone else suggested Clancy's and I have to second that. The crowds are a problem, though.

                            L'Woods in Lincolnwood, on Lincoln just south of Touhy does a good fish fry. They are trying to imitate a Wisconsin dinner lodge. Also their fish sandwich called The Big Fish is pretty great - good bun, large filet of crispy fish. yum.

                            1. VI, not a fish fry per se, but The Fish Keg on Howard just east of Western does a fine job on fried fish for take out, we might want to include them as second to last (last being Bill's) on the Westernathon. Also, Duke of Perth does have fine fish and chips, I think that's what ReneG was getting at when he couldn't eat at the bar.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: dougk

                                Ahhh! The Fish Keg - good call. Bonus because they have hush puppies too. Don't see those much these days.

                                The deal with the Duke and the bar - the bar is small and when the place gets crowded the bartender has his hands full with drink orders and can't be a good waiter too. So they prefer that if you're going to eat, you take a table as you'll have a better experience. Wednesday's & Friday's are all you can eat fish and chips and it does get crowded but Mike is a fantastic bartender - extremely knowledgeable on single malts. Nice patio in the summer too. I'm a big fan of the place.

                              2. c

                                The fish fry may be a dying breed within the city limits, but it is still pretty popular once you get outside the city, as the Good Eating article illustrates. While a logical assumption might be made that the number of fish fries should remain more or less proportional to the number of Catholics in a given area, I believe the greater influence these days is lifestyle rather than religion. In my countless summers around the woods and waterways of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, Friday fish fries were everywhere, and they were common all year round--not just during Lent (according to the Catholicicism of my grandparents, eating meat on ANY Friday was a no-no, so the religious underpinnings of the FF theory still holds). I suspect that as meatless options increased, so did dining choices--particularly in Chicago--so it's conceivable that reliance on FFs as Lenten options began to wane. What I think sustained it in the interim is the popularity of sport fishing in these areas where lakes and waterways are abundant (I realize that Lake Michigan is a rather significant body of water, but for the most part, a sport fishing culture along its Chicago shores is pretty much non-existent these days).

                                The best "local" fish fries will still be found in out-of-the-way saloons and taverns along the banks of the many lakes and rivers in northern Illinois and SE Wisconsin--including the Milwaukee area. At one time, the fish more than likely came from those same lakes, but advances in refrigeration as well as safety and supply concerns probably hastened the move toward quality-controlled and more easily obtainable commercial fish species like cod, perch and even catfish. I'm fortunate enough to enjoy one exception each year during an annual walleye fishing trip on Lake Erie where our catch is immediately converted into the best fish fry I have ever had by the old salt who runs the charter boat outfit. PCBs be damned.

                                At any rate, as subdivisions and mixed use developments sprout up along the banks of these waterways--notably with their backs facing AWAY from the water save for an obligatory sliding glass door--even this sport fishing link is weakened as inhabitants become further removed from the land around them. I suspect that today fish fries exist more as seasonal culinary phenomenons perpetuated by media coverage like the Trib piece, and less as religious, cultural or social touchstones. The only denomination that matters anymore is one's shared love of batter fried fish. Amen.

                                Interestingly, one of my favorite Lenten food choices is bagels and lox with chive cream cheese, red onion and tomato.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: CoolerbytheLake

                                  Well, I like how you start out and end, but the middle part where you seem to be drawing an analogy between how houses are situated with regard to bodies of water, and the decline of spirituality in our society strikes me as a wee tad of a stretch (as well as a little too trite). Of course, not being a Catholic, I may be missing something here, I readily admit.

                                  Don't you think the decline of the fish fry is a little more of a reflection of the changes in food - the trends toward more diverse, and ethnic food? Something to be celebrated, even?

                                  Personally, I lean toward the english fish and chips rendition, and I admit to liking Long John Silvers from time to time for a fried fish with some vinegar. Does that qualify as confession of a sin? Seems like the lakeside taverns require one to like to drink beer to enjoy the cuisine, and the beer is not so great for me.


                                  1. re: dickson d

                                    Nowhere in my post did I mention a decline in spirituality. The topic was the decline in fish fries. My reference to religion was merely in response to the posts on fish fries that typically began with the qualifier "I'm not Catholic, but..." The only point being that fish fries don't really have any Catholic overtones, nor did they really ever. They're non-ecumenical. Come one, come all, enjoy this here fish plank. It's really quite American and democratic when you think about it.

                                    As to the over-development of the wetlands portions of Northern Illinois, it's a real concern for those of us with deep ties to the area, and is certainly not "trite." Off topic, perhaps, and a debate better suited for other forums, but not trite. However, the decline of lakes and waterways as food resources, along with their rich tradition of sport fishing and outdoor lifestyle in favor of them as window dressing for condo developments does go against many of the current attitudes about maintaining a local connection to our food. As Alice Waters says, "thinking about the relationship of food to our lives and surroundings teaches us respect for the planet and for each other." Maybe that's hippy-dippy touchy-feely talk, but I don't think anyone would call it trite. I really don't want to be a screed writer. I find those manifestos to be among the most boring threads in this place, so that's my last word on the subject. I appreciate the feedback, and sincerely believe that this kind of thrust and parry is what gives this site its energy and value. Eat on...

                                    1. re: CoolerbytheLake

                                      Ah, this board has caused me to yet again consult my dictionary.

                                      'Screed' hmmm I believe you are refering to definition 3: a long list or discourse; sometimes, a tirade; diatribe

                                      Last week it was vapid, which I have used at least 3 times and have incorporated into my vocabulary.

                                      Food and an education, fantastic site!

                                      1. re: CAthy2

                                        Chowhound: nourishing stomachs and minds since 1998. I had a similar experience after seeing the word "catholicity" in an old thread. By the way, thanks for the tip on Ambrosia in Barrington (at least I think it was you). Amazing bakery. They do well with sorbet, too. Passion fruit champagne was the flavor du jour on my visit...so good.

                                2. Eddies in Downtown Arlington Heights is my Favorite on Northwest Hwy. Number 2 is The Knoll in Mchenry which has a great Fish Fry. Number 3 is just past the Illinois Wisconsin State Line in Twin Lakes, the place is called Mad Dans on Twin Lakes. All 3 places have great old bars to sit at while waiting for a table. All 3 have great cole slaw and Rye Bread waiting for you. Enjoy Fridays during Lent