It had been nearly two and a half years since I had last eaten at Mr. G's Pizzeria in Fairlawn, Ohio. Mr. G's had only recently come back onto my epicurean radar since I was now in the area for lunch on a much more frequent basis. While I'm certain the restaurant's owners would much rather be known for their Italian cuisine rather than a fish fry, from what I remembered of past meals, it was actually a rather good rendition. At least it used to be.
As I have certainly demonstrated with The Lenten Project, I am totally a sucker for a good piece of fried fish and if your restaurant offers it, regardless of the style of cuisine you serve, I will more than likely try that before anything else. The problem is that there aren't too many terribly good fish fries out there. Now mentally stuck on fried fish and it being Friday, I decided to avail myself of this All You Can Eat (AYCE) seafood special at Mr. G's.
Mr. G's Pizzeria was located at 2955 West Market Street, Fairlawn, OH 44333 and could be reached at 330-836-1111. Having been around for a while, I would have thought they would have a website by now, but alas at the time of this writing, they appear not to (don't get confused by this Mr. G's, it's in Texas). Since the restaurant was located in the typical strip mall, parking was in the lot in front of the set of stores.
Here was a shot of the storefront of Mr. G's:
Once inside, a sign directed me to seat myself. As I had gone today slightly after the lunch rush ended and the bussers hadn't gotten around to cleaning the tables yet, there were surprisingly few clean tables at which I could sit. I found one near the back of the pretty tiny restaurant and soon my server stopped by to take my drink order and drop off a menu.
Here were the photographs of the menu:
Besides noting that today's AYCE fish fry was only $7.99, I noticed that Mr. G's offers fish two other ways: as deep fried white fish fillets for their fried fish basket and a hand dipped fresh cod for their fried fish sandwich. Wanting to know which I would be getting today with the daily special, I asked my server when she returned to take my order.
"Hand dipped cod," she replied.
"Oh, you mean the fresh cod you use for the sandwich?"
"Yep, that's the one."
This actually surprised and delighted me. I had assumed it would be the white fish fillets and that they were being fried from frozen. Any reservations I had went right out the window and I proceeded to order the fried fish option.
After only a few minutes, this arrived at my table:
From this angle, you can see the thick-cut fried-from-frozen steak fries, a bit of the fried fish in the back right, and the hushpuppies in the middle and lower left of the plate. I decided to take another photograph from the reverse angle as well:
Fried fish on the left, coleslaw on the bottom and to the right of the coleslaw was a cup of tartar sauce. I started with the fish first. The dish came with three cod fillets that had been breaded and fried. The fillet on top was the most perfect of the three and had an only slightly greasy coating, but was still nice and crisp. I pulled off a bite and tried it without the adornment of any sauce. The cod was not only beautifully cooked, moist and barely translucent, but tasted properly seasoned and fresh when I ate it as well. This was a good piece of fried fish. Sadly, however, the bottom fillet of cod
was a lot less crunchy and quite a bit more oily (admittedly, it's hard to see the grease in the above photo). The cod inside the coating, however, was just as tasty as the cod in the perfect fillet sitting on top.
I next tried the tartar sauce by itself:
While it had a decent flavor on its own, it didn't have enough acidity in it to properly cut through the fattiness of the fried coating on the fish. In fact, sort of by accident, when some of the fish got paired with the coleslaw, I realized while it was a more unusual pairing, taste-wise it balanced out much better on my palate. When I tasted the coleslaw by itself, I was very pleased with the nice balance between sweet, tangy, crunchy, and creamy it possessed. When my server stopped in to check on me, I asked if it was homemade and she grinned and confirmed that it was.
The other element on the plate, the steak fries, were pretty decent. Most were crispy on the outside and fluffy and steamy on the inside, but a few of the ones at the bottom of the plate were somewhat oily. Fortunately, I received so much food (and I hadn't even asked for additional fish yet), that I was willing to eat the good ones off the top and discard the not-so-good ones on the bottom. The only real downer on the plate were the hushpuppies. Having been fried to within an inch of their lives, they were pretty dried out.
While I could've ordered more fish, this one plate of food was more than adequate to feed me today and had I eaten any more, I probably would've required a mid-afternoon nap to process it all. With a glass of water, my check with tax came to just slightly over $8. In addition to being a great value, the quality of the fish was excellent and for the most part, the frying of my food had been done with a better than average skill level. If you are into fish fries, whether they are AYCE or not, definitely give Mr. G's Pizzeria a try. They are only open for lunch on Wednesday through Saturday, but they are open for dinner every night of the week. I know I'll be going back in order to sample some of their more traditional Italian fare.
And maybe another fish fry or two.