I had heard from a good friend that the fried fish dinner at a local Cuyahoga Falls establishment was truly wonderful. Intrigued by her love of the fish, I agreed to accompany her last Friday to sample what this restaurant had to offer. I normally put my warnings at the end of my reviews. In this case, I thought it prudent to give you a proper warning right up front. If you're tempted to casually stop in on Friday evening for the fish fry at The Boulevard, don't even bother. We thought we were early enough to beat the crowds by arriving at 5:15 PM. The place was packed. And then some. We left, discouraged, and sought our fried fish elsewhere.
Fortunately, the bar / eatery located at 435 Chestnut Boulevard, Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44221 also has the exact same fish fry special on Wednesday nights after 5 PM. Remembering the impossibly crowded restaurant from the Friday before, I cautiously walked through the front door of the bar to discover that at 6:30 PM on a Wednesday night there were plenty of open tables.
Before we venture inside, of course, here was a shot of the exterior of The Boulevard:
There was a second entrance at the rear of the building, right next to the parking lot. Once inside, I grabbed an open table and took a picture of the bar area:
After a few minutes, a server approached me, took my drink order, and presented me with a folded, laminated card which turned out to be the menu:
Unfortunately, I only got photographs of three of the four panels before my server came back to take my order. Of course, I knew I was there to get the fried fish special, so I didn't have to take too much time pondering what else looked good. I only asked one question (which is a new record for me, I think), "Is the fish frozen or fresh?" My server, now sporting quite a stern look on her face responded that the fish was indeed fresh. In fact, they only serve the fish until they run out. After that, customers have to wait until the next time they offer it. Good answer.
I decided to get the five piece fried fish dinner with french fries and cole slaw for $10.99. After about fifteen minutes or so, this arrived at my table:
There were quite a few french fries hidden underneath all of that fish. First, let's start with the fish:
The fish used in this case was perch. The filets were nicely cut and had a good thickness to them. This resulted in juicy meat. The coating was also nice and crispy. Overall this was a pretty darn good piece of fried fish. Even though the platter was served with tartar sauce, I tasted the fish alone first. The only criticism I have was that the fish was slightly underseasoned. I then tried the fish with the tartar sauce. It was better, but it still wasn't completely spot-on. I also need to give a nod to the tartar sauce, which I found out was homemade after asking my server. It was very fresh tasting and added a very nice blend of creamy, salty, sweet, and sour. The french fries were fried from frozen, but they had been fried correctly. They were golden brown on the outside and nice and soft on the inside.
Here was a shot of my cole slaw:
This was a nice side, but didn't strike me as anything out of the ordinary. The other option instead of cole slaw was a garden salad, but I felt that I needed to keep with the fried fish dinner tradition and go with the slaw instead. I wasn't disappointed.
There were two other photographs I wanted to share with you, gentle reader. First, I managed to get a really nice shot of the moist interior of the perch:
The filets were cut so that they were thicker in the middle and this shot represented that thick middle section. The ends were a bit drier (since the fish was thinner at those ends), but the nice crispy coating made up for that deficiency. The other photograph I wanted to share with you is the outcome of eating perch, fried or not:
Perch and other smaller lake fish similar to it have lots of little bones in them. As much as the cook fusses over removing as many of the bones as possible, it is still possible to miss some. These four bones were what I found in eating just about half of the fried fish that was brought to me. While this didn't really bother me since I knew to look out for them, if you are worried about someone with a high risk of choking such as a child or elderly person, you may want to consider something else on the menu.
I very much enjoyed my fried fish dinner at The Boulevard. The fish was fresh and moist and had a wonderful crispy coating. The fries and slaw, although nothing out of the ordinary, were also tasty and well executed. Make sure that they don't forget to bring you a side of the excellent tartar sauce as it paired so well with the fish. While the fish fry is only from 5 PM onward on Wednesdays, it is available all day on Fridays. However, based on my experience, I wouldn't recommend getting there any time after 5 PM on a Friday evening and expect to find an open seat.