Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Lenten Project, Week 1

I decided to start off the first week of The Lenten Project with a trip to the southern most establishment on my fried fish docket, Our Lady of Peace located in Canton, Ohio. While I was familiar where 39th Street NW was located, what really surprised me was that the church seemed to appear right in the middle of a completely residential and quite frankly, unusual spot for something so large. There was street level parking in front of the church, so I took advantage of it.

Our Lady of Peace was located at 1001 39th Street NW, Canton, OH 44709 and can be reached at 330-492-0622. As I was to soon discover, there was additional parking closer to the entrance of Alumni Hall (which was where the fish fry was taking place).

Here was a shot of the church from 39th Street NW:

To the immediate left of the church was this sign:

If you are standing in front of the church, there was a road just behind the above sign and another road just to the right of the church with a One Way indicator on it. If you take the One Way road, it will take you to the lot just behind the church. Sadly, there was no way of knowing this except to discover the fact after I had walked down the road to the left of the church. However, doing so gave me the chance to take a snapshot of the menu:

Another matching menu of wall-sized proportions was located inside the main venue. When I got there today around 5:15 PM, it was busy, but I didn't end up waiting more than five minutes before someone took my order. You order and pay for your food at the entrance. The person will mark up a ticket with your order and then you move to the cashier to pay for it. Once paid, you select any table you wish with an opening and sit down. Within minutes, a young girl came over, introduced herself, took my ticket and my drink preference and was off to fill it.

While I waited for her return, I had some of the Norcia bakery bread that the menu had been advertising:

The bread had been pre-sliced and placed in this basket with individual pats of butter and margarine. While the bread was nothing to write home about (or to wax endlessly on a food blog about), it was your typical Italian seedless bread.

Within a few minutes, my hot tea arrived:

While bottled water was $1, tea, coffee, and glasses of water were free. With my tea came the small cup of cole slaw (apple sauce was the other choice) that came with my fish dinner:

While it may not seem like a tremendous amount of cole slaw, for the size of my impending meal, it was perfect. Consisting mostly of shredded cabbage, there were a few tiny cubes of carrots in there as well. Based on the flavor and the creaminess, I'm guessing that the dressing consisted of a mayonnaise and sour cream base. It was decent cole slaw; nothing stood out about it.

After a few more minutes, the remainder of my meal arrived. Here was a shot of the two pieces of fried fish:

Had I known how ENORMOUS the fillets of fish were, I certainly would've ordered only one. These suckers were massive. The fillet in the rear actually covered the Styrofoam plate from one end to the other. The smaller fillet towards the front was also large and I would've been completely happy with just one of them. Besides the length of each fillet, the thickness also worked well, too. The fish inside was tender and juicy and was cooked perfectly as it flaked easily. The fried batter coating was just thick enough to provide some nice textural contrast to the softness of the fish inside. The only thing that I could criticize was that the fish was just a touch oily for me. There was no oil residue on the plate, but if you brushed you finger up against the crust, you came away with a slightly oily residue on your fingertips. I know that some people like that, but I figured I would mention it. Also, it should be noted that everything was fried in trans-fat free oil.

Next up, the pierogi:

Sadly, these turned out to be a commercially made pierogi that had been combined with onions sauteed in some butter. I didn't see any boxes and I didn't ask, but they basically reminded me of Mrs. T's frozen pierogi you can get at any local supermarket. The onions were decent enough, but they hadn't been sauteed long enough for some of the thicker pieces to lose their "crunch." The family sitting at my table thought that these were the "bee's knees." I didn't have the heart to tell them that they could just go and pick this up at the local Giant Eagle or Fisher's.

Finally, since Our Lady was offering macaroni and cheese, I decided to add a side for only $2:

While the pasta had some nice chew to it, the cheese sauce tasted closer to what I used to do in college before I discovered the "blue box" from Kraft. I used to cook my macaroni in boiling water until it was to my liking, drain the water off, and then threw in a huge hunk of Velveeta processed cheese food product. I would stir this until it melted and distributed itself throughout the macaroni. Et voila! Macaroni and "cheese." Like the cole slaw, this wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible either.

One other tip I'll pass along to you, gentle reader. While ketchup was already on the table, if you want tartar sauce or cocktail sauce, you must request it from your server. They are kept under refrigeration and must be retrieved when your order is being assembled. By the time I got up to leave at around 5:45 PM, the place was seriously hopping and the line to get into the hall went out the door. Overall, I thought that the fish was excellent, the pierogi disappointed me, and the macaroni and cheese was passable.

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