Fish Fry #6 2023 – St. Sava on Wallings Road

This is a story of two churches. St. Sava Cathedral and St. Sava Church are both Serbian Orthodox churches that are located south of Cleveland. One (the Cathedral) is located at the border of Seven Hills and Parma on Broadview Road, while the other one (St. Sava Church/Hall) is located on Wallings Road in Broadview Heights. You can see where the confusion is almost guaranteed. According to a parishioner we spoke with today, there was a falling out in the church that cleaved them into two churches years ago. Things are better now, but they are still two distinct churches with a similar name.

Last year I went to St. Sava Cathedral’s fish fry on Broadview Road. It was very Orthodox. I didn’t love it and heard the St. Sava Church’s fish fry was very different and better. I wanted to compare the two, so I planned on eating at St. Sava Church this time around. I learned from my mistakes last year and brought butter with me. Because they are very Orthodox and it is Lent, so no dairy is allowed. Although they served sour cream with the pierogi today, so color me confused.

First of all, the church is located on W. Wallings Road about 1 mile past the intersection of Broadview Road and W. Wallings Road. You can’t miss the signs. I got there right at 4:30 and met a friend there. Two other friends planned to meet us a little later on and had no trouble finding us. There were already lots of people coming out carrying take-out containers at 4:30. The fish fry is held in the Main Hall behind the church. Enter through the doors on the right and get in line. I just followed a group from the parking lot. There was already quite a line at 4:30. We chit-chatted a bit until we got to the front of the line. They have it running like a well-oiled machine. Tables are positioned two together so there is a lot of space between you and the person sitting across from you. Long tables with serving chafing dishes line the back wall.

There were signs advertising three different dinners – $12 for 1 piece of fried fish, 6 fried shrimp and 2 sides or 6 pierogi, $14 for 1 piece of fish and 3 shrimp and 2 sides or $15 for baked salmon and 2 sides. All dinners come with coleslaw and a dinner roll. They don’t advertise the sides, because they vary every week. This week we could choose from something called O’Brien potatoes, steamed mixed veggies or pierogi. I chose the potatoes and the pierogi, then opted to get the bean soup ($3) and a Lenten stuffed cabbage roll ($2). The bean soup was really good. I brought it home to eat later.

I didn’t think about the fact that the Lenten stuffed cabbage roll contained no meat. It was essentially rice, tomato sauce and carrot stuffed in a cabbage leaf. It was different, but I don’t think it was worth an extra $2. It would have been a fun and different side. Unless you really love rice and cabbage, save your cabbage.

The salmon looked amazing, but I decided to try the fish and shrimp. They were both moist and tasty. The potatoes were weird. I guess they roast them with  red and green bell peppers and onion until they break down to mush and mix them with some kind of Serbian vegetable paste (?). They were okay, but the baby food consistency turned me off. There is nothing wrong with roasted chunks of potatoes.

The pierogi were decent, but they didn’t strike me as homemade. They were too uniform. I also ordered a cherry strudel, because I remember the strudel last year was magical. It was definitely flaky, but I think it might have been flash-fried. I definitely tasted fried oil. I preferred the Cathedral’s strudel and rolls. I also shelled out another $2 for two cans of pop (you can also buy bottled water). The coffee is free, but I don’t drink coffee this late in the day.

The place was packed from the moment we got there at 4:30 until we left at 6:30. They serve from 4:30 to 7:00 every Friday in Lent from February 24th to April 7th – dine in and carry out. They were also really pushing their Bake Sale on April 8th. It’s supposed to be amazing. I have to say that I am tempted to go to Bingo Night there one Tuesday or Thursday. Just because they take it so seriously. They have a huge light-up board and professional machines to mix the balls. It puts my little metal Bingo spinner and wooden balls from my grandparents to shame.

Contact info:

St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church
2151 W. Wallings Road
Broadview Heights, OH 44147
(440) 237-2260


Kenston High School Pancake Breakfast

The Pancake Breakfast at Kenston High School on Bainbridge Road in Chagrin Falls is hosted by the Bainbridge Civic Club and co-hosted by the Bainbridge Women’s Club during the first three Sundays in March. This year was the 71st Annual Pancake Breakfast. It’s closer to Cleveland than any Geauga county pancake breakfast, and they also serve killer pancakes and real maple syrup (they have a big box in the corner that they used to refill the syrup dispensers). Unlike Geauga county breakfasts, they don’t serve every single weekend. This year the breakfasts were held on March 5, 12 and 19 from 8-1. I love that they serve until 1 PM. That allowed me to slowly wake up and still head over there in plenty of time for pancakes.

I know I joke about the lack of signs sometimes, but I certainly can’t say it about Kenston High’s Pancake Breakfast. There are signs leading you to the breakfast from the I-422 highway exit, down Bainbridge Road and to the entrance of the high school and then all the way to the entrance doors. A++++ for the signage!

Once you enter the gymnasium, there are two tables to the right and left selling raffle tickets and Kenston gear. The table straight ahead is where you pay. They accepted credit cards for the first time this year, but it was quicker and easier to pay in cash. The funds they raise are used to support the Bainbridge Area Food for Friends Food Pantry, provide scholarships, and fund the club’s local community driven, philanthropic endeavors.

$11 for an adult breakfast will get you sausage, coffee, milk, syrup, butter & applesauce, orange juice and unlimited pancakes (plain, blueberry, and buckwheat) and/or French toast. They direct you down the hallway to be seated when a seat becomes available. They definitely keep things moving. Community volunteers seat you, take your order, and bring your freshly prepared, hot food to your table. I was immediately asked for my beverage order (orange juice and coffee), and then I ordered a Combo and sausage with applesauce. The Combo comes with two pancakes (buttermilk and blueberry) and one French toast, but I was given all three pancakes along with a French toast (probably because it was getting close to the end and they had a surplus of buckwheat). The sausage patties were also generous and perfectly cooked. The sausage is an exclusive recipe, ground and made fresh each week by Mazzulo’s Market. Best of all, the meal is served on china plates, with china mugs, and metal silverware!

The tables had little two-sided paddles if you needed more coffee or pancakes. If I needed anything else (like more sugar, more syrup, or my applesauce that wasn’t delivered) I asked someone and was immediately given it. It was a lot of food for $11, and I savored it. It was a special morning sitting in the gym watching the snow fall outside. What more could one want? Generous signage directing me where to go, real plates and silverware, and all I could eat? Add some eggs (protein) and this would be the absolutely perfect pancake breakfast. Once I got back to my car I decided to pop over to my parents’ house to say hi since I was so close. All in all, a great Sunday.

Contact info:

Bainbridge Civic Club Pancake Breakfast
Kenston High School
9500 Bainbridge Road
Chagrin Falls, OH 44023

Fish Fry #5 2023 – St. Joseph’s in Avon Lake – Visit 2

I made an exception to my rule of no repeat visits on St. Patrick’s Day. Most fish fries were closed, even though a higher up apparently gave the church parishioners a dispensation in order to eat their corned beef and cabbage on a usually meatless Friday. St. Joseph’s in Avon Lake was serving corned beef and cabbage, and I wanted to try the baked cod to complete my tasting of their available items.

I took a friend with me, and it was so nice knowing how things work. We drove around the church and parked close to the entrance shortly before it opened. We had preordered a perch meal for my friend, the baked cod for me and we shared the corned beef and cabbage. I found my friends from the last visit and joined them once again. My friend and I got into line to grab a tray from the soup station and then headed to the food in front of the stage. Since we were splitting a second meal I didn’t order any additional soup.

The first stop was for the corned beef and cabbage – and we were handed an individual homemade Irish soda bread that looked like a fancy cupcake. I really wish I had taken a photo of the soda bread. I found it quite tasty, but my friend was not a fan. More for me! The corned beef and cabbage was exceptional. We got 3 large slices of corned beef (I grabbed the leaner of the three), and it came with cabbage, carrots and potatoes. The carrots were a wee bit underdone, but altogether they tasted great. My friend particularly enjoyed the potatoes and raved about the corned beef. She also enjoyed the green beans once she put salt on them.

The cod was also quite lovely. I ordered a sweet potato to go with it. It was a delicious, low-fat meal. The mango chutney seems to be a doctored Curried Mango Grille Sauce/mango chutney from Stonewall Farms. It was really lovely. The cod as perfectly cooked and flaky, and the chutney really helped it shine (although it was tasty without the chutney as well). I didn’t need any butter or anything on the sweet potato – it was that good.

My friend loved her perch dinner as well and took the rest of the corned beef home for lunch at work. I had also ordered a side of pierogi for her, since she is from cincinnati and hadn’t had a pierogi before she met me. She prefers them a little firmer, but that meant I got her pierogi to take home with my corned beef leftovers. We left with happy, full bellies.

Another successful Friday fish fry visit! I kind of regretted not ordering the salmon, but I’ve been told I can have the recipe for the dill-chardonnay sauce so I can recreate the magic at home. The only criticism I have is that they really need to work on their lemonade and ice tea game (I ordered canned soda last time)! Even though they are free with the meal I expect more than weak watered down beverage. They were just bad. The pitcher of iced water on the table was tastier!

Contact info:

St. Joseph’s Parish
32929 Lake Road
Avon Lake
Fry time: 4:30 to 7 p.m. Fridays Feb. 24 to March 31 (no fish fry on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday).

Parkman Community Center Pancake Breakfast

Most pancake breakfasts are served on Sunday mornings in March when the maple trees are being tapped and the sap is flowing, although a couple run into mid-April. If you look you can find several maple syrup making events. Geauga County is known for its maple syrup, and the pancake breakfasts in the area serve genuine Geauga County maple syrup, freshly tapped and boiled. This pancake breakfast has their maple syrup in water pitchers.

I first attended the Pancake Breakfast in Parkman with my old neighbors from Solon in 2017. I met them at their place, and we drove out 422 to Parkman. I always love driving across LaDue Reservoir. It always brings me peace. Anyway, the patriarch and I somehow got turned around and drove in a circle for a few extra miles. I hadn’t realized how easy it was to find from 422. It’s a straight shot on 422, just past the Welshfield Inn. The Community House was built in 1863 as a cheese factory. It’s currently the social hub of this tiny town. We stood in line and got seated quickly along the large serpentine table. The table was built to allow the servers to easily walk back and forth and wait on the visitors requesting more sausage, more pancakes, more coffee, more milk, etc. That was pre-Covid.

First two photos borrowed from Eat*Drink*Cleveland

This year was the first time back in two years, and it has made some changes. They offered takeout in lines in the parking lot. There is no more serpentine table; they are socially distanced dining tables instead. There are still plenty of all-you-can-eat buttermilk pancakes and sausage from Charlanne Farms and several beverages to choose from. They still use real dishes and flatware, which is a nice change after having to eat off styrofoam at fish fries and other pancake breakfasts. Still the same great maple syrup in drinking pitchers (we finished that pitcher among the 7 of us). And the water was drinkable (it’s been Crystal at Eat*Drink*Cleveland’s biggest complaint)! I would have happily paid extra for orange juice, but the milk hit the spot just as well.

The pancake breakfast runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. I arrived there at 12:10. I pulled into a great parking spot right at the entrance and had very little wait time to be seated. They said they had served about 350 meals that day. I handed over my $10 and walked to the door to be seated. I was seated with three couples. We were quickly served plates of pancakes and sausage, and we helped ourselves to the coffee in the thermos and the butter, creamer, sugar and maple syrup on the table.

I was full after finishing my plate, and after drinking a second cup of coffee and having a nice chat with my tablemates I got up at 1 and headed home.

Contact info:

Parkman Community Center
16295 Main Market Road
Parkman, OH 44080
440) 548-2904

Fish Fry Friday #4 – St. Joseph Byzantine Church in Brecksville

Since I have a birthday dinner tonight and I’m leaning towards the Beef Wellington Pierogi, I decided to get my fish on at a lunch fish fry. There are a lot of pluses for attending a lunch fish fry (no long lines, generous servings, driving home in the daylight – although it was cloudy due to the heavy snow). That said, I can’t imagine it is that financially viable. I was there from 12:30 to 1, and I could count on one hand (maybe two) how many people were served. St. Joseph’s serves lunch from 11:30 to 1:00 and dinner from 3:30 to 7. The signage out front along the sreet ensures you can’t miss it.

A sign or arrows indicating where the fish fry was being held would have been nice. I parked on the side of the church wth the other cars near the entrance. It was on the back of the main building, but not as far as the Activity Center. I asked a woman who was picking up a disabled family member at the door after their meal and she pointed to the door that looked like a restaurant entrance. She praised the shrimp. If I have learned anything this year, I have learned to always listen to the recommendations.

St. Joseph’s fish fry is $10 for lunch and $16 for dinner for one main item of either a tuna salad sandwich on a croissant, fried walleye, baked scrod, shrimp, or homemade potato pierogi from Rudy’s Strudel and Bakery in Parma. Dinners also comes 2 more pieces of shrimp along with Jell-O and rolls and butter. Additional items cost $5. SinceI wanted to try a bit of everything, I ordered extra shrimp or pierogi and was given a ticket for the walleye and two “boats”.

I grabbed a tray and worked my way down the serving line, grabbing a cole slaw from the choice of apple sauce or cole slaw, then my choice of potato (au gratin, sweet potato and french fries) and on to the main event – walleye, shrimp, and pierogi (plus lots of lovely carmelized onions!) and sour cream, tartar sauce, cocktail sauce and butter. The fish was nothing to write home about; it was okay. It had a nice flavorful breading and wasn’t dried out. The shrimp and pierogi were outstanding, and I’m glad I splurged on them. The shrimp were plump and tasty, and so were the pierogi! I’d expect nothing less from Rudy’s pierogi! The au gratin potatoes are an inspired side dish. I’ve never seen it on any other fish fry menu. The potatoes were a cheesy, creamy dream.

Let me just say that you can always count on a healthy dose of horseradish in the cocktail sauce at a Byzantine or Orthodox church! I mentioned it to one of the workers as I was leaving, and he is the one who makes it. He told me he was once told by a parishoner that she brought her own cocktail sauce because his was “too wimpy.” Well, now he goes heavy on the horseradish.

You can enjoy their fish fry year round. The fish fry is so successful, parishioners decided to continue the tradition outside of the Lenten season. Apart from the six week stint during Lent, they hold a “First Fryday Fish Fry” from 4-7 p.m. on the first Friday of every month. All proceeds from the “First Fryday Fish Fry” help defray the costs of feeding the homeless at the Men’s Shelter in Cleveland. Roughly 10 percent of the final Lenten sales also go to the ministry.

Contact info:

St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church
8111 Brecksville Road
Brecksville, OH 44141
(440) 526-1818

Fish Fry #3 2023 – St. Vladimir Orthodox Church

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, maybe not so dark shortly before 4 o’clock, but it was definitely stormy. Nothing like a cold, wet rainy night in northeast Ohio to really make you want to stay in. I had decided to hit St. Charles Borromeo at 4 for its take-out and hoped they had tents set up for their take-out workers. St. Francis de Sales it was not! Turns out I would have had to get out of my car and hobble across the street and enter the church to pick up my meal. If you are having people come in to pick up meals you might as well serve them as dine-in. Not in that weather! Nope! Maybe I’ll fit it in this year again, but probably not.

The Great Hall behind the church: right: front entrance, left: rear entrance with lots of parking

I then pivoted to fish fry #2 on my plan of attack for tonight, St. Vladimir Orthodox Church. I had planned to dine in there after picking up my take-out from St. Charles. St. Vladimir is an impressive church edifice on State Road. I pulled into the parking lot between the church and the Grand Hall, which is where the fish fry was being held, right at 4:30. Their serving time is 4:30 to 7:00. With no available spots in front, I drove around to the back and managed to get a good spot close to the back door. The line was not that long for 4:30, but there was a delay when two gentlemen backed up the line getting multiple to-go orders filled. They must have had six containers each on their trays, and the entire serving table stood there empty and waiting for them to make their way down from the fish. The folks at St. Vladimir need to organize take-out orders better.

Once it was my turn, I grabbed a tray and utensils and quickly debated whether to grab a to-go container or plate. Knowing I can’t eat a full fish fry meal, I opted for the to-go container. Good decision! They had six dinners to choose from – baked salmon (1 pc), baked cod (1 pc), perch/Captain Gene’s dinner (3 pc), fried white fish (2 pc), fried shrimp (6 pc) and potato pierogi (6 pc). And they also have a kid’s dinner with a slice of pizza, french fries and applesauce. I chose the Lake Erie Perch and, as per Captain Gene’s Special Dinner’s description, was given three meager pieces of perch. When she saw the tiny portion one of the servers gave me a fourth piece, explaining they are allowed some discretion if they feel the pieces are small. I appreciated it. One of my fellow diners suggested I get the cod next time, so keep that in mind.

All dinners include cole slaw or applesauce, a dinner roll, coffee and a cookie – and your choice of one side. Choices included french fries, 2 pierogi, 1 potato pancake, redskin potatoes, steamed vegetables, cabbage and noodles, and mac n cheese. I chose the pierogi and am so glad I did! St. Vladimir’s pierogi are a solid A+! Pillowy softness drenched in butter and onions. The pierogi were just like I like them. I almost ventured back into the line just to get a pierogi dinner to go. I may come back and do that later in the season. People, these pierogi give St. Josaphat’s pierogi, which I have always considered the gold standard that my grandma used to make, a run for their money! The perch itself was good, but not as tasty as St. Joseph’s. Since the pieces were small they were a little tough and not much “meat” to them. The cole slaw was tasty, and the dinner roll was nice and soft.

I also added on a clam chowder. It was a decent clam chowder, but could have used a little more salt and pepper. I would have added some if it were on the table. It had nice soft chunks of potato and clam in it and a nice creamy consistency. I also added a piece of cake even though a chocolate chip cookie came with the meal. It was really sweet, but I like the combination of chocolate and cherries so I enjoyed it. It wasn’t a real Black Forest Cake, but real ones are time-consuming to make, so I understand why they did what they did. Pies and cakes were on offer for $3. My meal came to $28 – $20 for the perch dinner, $5 for the chowder, and $3 for the dessert. They accept credit cards, but I paid cash.

There was apparently a bar down the hall, but I wasn’t walking that great today. In fact, I almost faceplanted while leaving because my foot was asleep and I lost my footing. So I stuck with the free water within walking distance and grabbed a tartar sauce for good measure.

They also have a table of merch if you want to show that you “Stand with Ukraine.” They are also taking donations and having a fundraiser soon. I got to use some Russian, talked with some nice folks, and thoroughly enjoyed my meal. As I left the building to promptly get soaked and drive home in the deluge, I couldn’t help thinking that I was glad I had ventured out tonight.

P.S. Fresh pyrohy (pierogi) are available on Fridays during Lent between from 9:00 am and 12:00 pm (until April 7). Frozen pyrohy may be purchased every week on Tuesday and Friday from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. Please call the church office at (440) 886-3223 to check availability. Email orders ( for fresh pyrohys are available only during the Christmas and Easter season. Email and phone orders for Lent will begin on February 18 and will go until April 5. Please call (440) 886-3252 for phone orders.

Contact info:

St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral
5913 State Road
Cleveland, OH 44134
(440) 886-3223

Fish Fry #2 2023 – St. Joseph’s in Avon Lake

← Drive here

Don’t park here

St. Joseph’s Parish was founded in 1949, but it has become known for its fish fry since the new pastor arrived a few years ago. Saint Joseph’s has been served by six pastors in its history. Its current pastor is Father Ronald J. Wearsch, who has Avon Lake roots and is a trained chef.  Father Wearsch arrived in mid-2013. The church began hosting its fish fry in St. Joseph’s former church building in 2014, but quickly had to move to a new parish and family center facility to accommodate the hundreds of people who flocked from the suburbs surrounding Avon Lake.

No waiting at the prepaid table
Gym entrance from soup station
Need assistance? Use me.

This fish fry is so popular that they encourage (nay, urge) you to order and pay ahead online. You can specify your pick-up time to ensure your meals are hot and they don’t sell out. Online ordering starts the Saturday before the fish fry and starts cutting off at 5 PM on Thursday, when the items are then subject to limited fulfilment. No orders are taken after 2 PM on Friday.

Green beans, perch, shrimp
Baked cod, baked salmon

Pro tip: Parking is in the BACK of the church. Just follow the line of cars. Stay to the left for Dine-in eating and to the right for Take-out pick-up. You can only enter from Lake Road. Don’t be a dummy like me and take the first open spot you see. I ended up having to walk ALL THE WAY around the church and ALL THE WAY to the back of the Parish (for an idea of how far it is, watch this drone footage from the website – I parked in the very last spot on the left next to the sidewalk and facing the church, and the entrance (blue awning) is all the way to the right behind the church and in the back rear corner of the parking lot). The Credit Union entrance with a blue awning is the entrance to the fish fry. I found a wonderful parishioner who was willing to drive me back to my car (thanks, D.!), because the idea of walking back while carrying my take-out was daunting.

Soup station
Beverage station
Baked cod and sweet potato (better photo to come)

If you have preordered and prepaid, you will be directed to a worker at the table who has that day’s orders. I had ordered a meal to eat in and one to take out. They called to confirm it wasn’t a mistake and were ready for me. Most take-out orders are fulfilled in the drive-thru car lines. A volunteer greeted me at the door to the gymnasium and explained how the system worked. The chowder/bisque was on the wall across from the entrance, and the food was to the right on the wall by the stage. Water (for hot tea), coffee, iced tea and lemonade are included with dine-in service and are on a table in the very middle (and coffee carts circulate the gym). Soda and bottled water are available for purchase.

They had a bunch of helpful young boys willing to carry my tray and grab some beverages for me – and there is a little hand fly swatter on the table that you can wave if you need something. I (and my helper Colin) grabbed trays and gathered my meals (both dine-in and take-out) as I made my way through the stations. I decided to sit near the soup and sat with a lovely couple. After the wife left to do dishes, two other couples joined us at the table.

I had heard amazing things about the Baked Verlasso Salmon with a chardonnay dill sauce. I have never seen anything like this on a fish fry menu. The closest “exotic” thing may be the crumb coated cod at St. Gabriel’s in Concorde or baked lemon-pepper haddock or crab cakes at St. Mary’s in Hudson. This is about the most perfect thing I have ever eaten. It was exquisite, and the first bite literally brought a tear to my eye. I would eat this every day if I could. I’m definitely going to try to recreate it at home and start eating more salmon. All of the fish dinners are served with green beans (not canned) and slaw, and I added pierogi to the dinner. Other sides include baked potato, sweet potato (which looked amazing!), mac and cheese, grilled cheese, cabbage and noodles, and tater tots.

I also chose to add a New England clam chowder to my dine in order. The soups are generous portions (12 ounces) and obviously homemade. The clam chowder had chunks of carrot, potato, and corn along with the clams. It was unlike any other chowder I’ve had, but I kind of dug it. I definitely finished every last drop of it, and it was very filling.

I ordered a Lake Erie perch dinner with tartar sauce and a tomato bisque to go. I popped one of the pierogi in with it for later. I reheated the perch and pierogi in my air fryer for lunch today. The perch was still moist and sweet. I think I understand why people love perch so much now. The tomato bisque was absolutely delicious – even better than the chowder. Apparently the bisque is the Father’s favorite to make. If I am not mistaken it had little chunks of tomato and onion as well as rice in it to bulk it out. I really liked it!

This fish fry was an A+. I am doing something that I rarely do and going back this season on March 17th. A lot of fish fries are not operating since it is St. Patrick’s Day, but St. Joseph’s is offering a “Special St. Patrick’s Day menu” featuring a corned beef and cabbage dinner with roasted potatoes, carrots and slaw. I will also be ordering the baked cod with mango chutney. The cod looks delicious, and I tried the chutney from the container lid and liked it. And you know I’ll be getting a salmon dinner to go!

Contact info:

St. Joseph’s Parish
32929 Lake Road
Avon Lake
Fry time: 4:30 to 7 p.m. Fridays Feb. 24 to March 31 (no fish fry on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday).

Fish Fry #1 2023 – Ash Wednesday lunch at West Park Station

This year’s fish fry season is starting out well – the fish fry at West Park Station in Kamm’s Corner was superb. I ventured out in the slushy, cold and rainy weather and was lucky enough to get a spot right in front. That’s one of the reasons I chose lunch there, but I was still tickled that I didn’t have far to walk from where I parked. They opened at 11 am and had advertised the fish fry starting on Ash Wednesday, but the kitchen had either forgotten or something. I took a seat and ordered a Guinness and a cup of clam chowder from waitress #1. I don’t know what soup I was given, but it sure looked like a gumbo. I sent it back with waitress #2, and the kitchen had to make a pot of clam chowder because of my order. So it took a while, which was fine because I had my Guinness. I ordered the Pike and Pierogi Combo, which was $19.99.

Waitress #2 finally brought out the chowder, which was understandably hot. As I was letting it cool, my Pike and Pierogi Combo came out. Once I got some silverware I tucked into it. This was one of the best fish fries I’ve had. The “pike” (walleye) was dusted with cornmeal and had a hint of lemon on the inside. It was delicious. The pierogi came out deep fried with some cooked onions. I had ordered a side of sour cream for them and would do so again even though I was charged extra for the tiny cup of sour cream. The pierogi were good, although I do prefer them boiled and pan-fried. The french fries were delicious. I don’t know what they did to them but they had a great flavor. Someone brought out three hush puppies at some point as well, which weren’t included in the P&P dinner and are close to $5 to order a la carte. But I’m glad they brought them out because they were tasty (and free). The combo also came with a small cups of applesauce and cole slaw. The tartar sauce also seemed housemade. I would gladly return to enjoy this again. It paired nicely with the Guinness and was extremely tasty.

The chowder was perfect – if a little thin. I’m sure it thickened up over the course of the day on the burner. It was brimming with clams and chunks of potato. I’ve never had the first serving of chowder before. I usually get the end. It was really nice to enjoy a super-fresh chowder.

As far as other non-meat options go, the appetizers included boom boom shrimp and pierogi in addition to the clam chowder (and the regular menu had several non-meat friendly options like chips & dip, pub pretzels, fried mozzarella, spinach-artichoke dip and bruschetta. The fish fry menu also features a walleye dinner with chips and hush puppies, a bourbon glazed salmon dinner with rice pilaf and broccoli that would be a great choice for those watching their weight, a beer-battered haddock dinner with fries and slaw as well as bruschetta pasta, lobster mac n cheese, lobster alfredo, and a haddock sandwich on the regular menu.

Contact info:

West Park Station
17015 Lorain Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44111
(216) 476-2000

It’s Fish Fry season again (2023)!

Hold onto your hats. It’s about to get busy here! It’s fish fry (and pancake breakfast) season. I spent some time planning this year’s visits yesterday. I don’t like going with big groups, but if you’d like to join me you are welcome. I go at the beginning of service to avoid the crowds (I’m still wary of catching the coronavirus) and make sure nothing runs out. I might decide to get take out, so if you are going to show up let me know.

Here is my tentative schedule:
2/22 (Ash Wednesday LUNCH): West Park Station at Kamm’s Corner
2/24: St. Joseph’s in Avon Lake (you need to order ahead). The baked salmon and baked cod both sound amazing – and they have breaded perch!
3/3: St. Charles Borromeo in Parma (takeout only) Fry time: 4 to 7 p.m. Fridays Feb. 24 to April 7 except for March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral. Fry time: 4:30 to 7 p.m. Fridays through April 7.
3/10: No Fish Fry -meeting friends for a birthday dinner, lunch St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church in Brecksville
3/17 (St. Patrick’s Day): St. Joseph’s for corned beef and fish dinner
3/24: St. Sava on Wallings Road (but I’m bringing butter and salt&pepper with me just in case!)
3/31: Ss. Robert & William Catholic Parish in Euclid
4/7 (Good Friday): St. Barnabas Fish Fry in Northfield (Icelandic cod and fresh-squeezed lemonade)

I also need to try out the American Slovak Club in Lorain for lunch. The fish fry during Lent will start Friday February 24, 2023  serving from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Our fish fry runs all year long, not just during Lent.

I also plan to eat at Melt Bar and Grilled once or twice, but not on Friday. I wish the one in Cleveland Heights hadn’t closed! Melt is offering seafood and meatless options every day from February 22nd – April 6th with their new Seafood Spectacular Menu. The menu will offer a fish fry with panko crusted cod fillets and hush puppies and some of their most requested fan favorites from the past and some awesome new items!

If you are planning your own visits and haven’t been to St. Gabriel’s or St. John Bosco yet, I suggest you put them at the top of your list. St. Gabe’s in Concorde is worth the drive and serves an all-you-can-eat buffet with 3 kinds of cod (battered, crumb coated and baked), shrimp, mussels, homemade seafood chowder, and sides like pierogi, mac n cheese, fries, pizza, and rigatoni from 5pm to 6:30pm ($20 preorder and $23 at the door – preorder ends at 2 PM on Friday). Get the seafood chowder and dessert as quickly as you can – they run out. Located in Parma Heights, St. John Bosco’s dinners are catered by Bruno’s Ristorante and include a lot of great Italian options, including eggplant lasagna and manicotti. There is a $1 early bird discount from 4-5. Adult dinners ($11.50-$13.50) include an entree (fried fish, broiled fish, eggplant lasagna, or pierogies), a side, coleslaw, rolls & butter, dessert (brownie or carrot cake), and choice of coffee, tea, or soft drinks. The fish is Alaskan Pollack that they beer-batter themselves.  Beer and wine are available in the dining hall. Extra sides (cabbage and noodles, manicotti, mac n cheese, vegetables, pizza) can be added to dinners for $1.50.

Express Deli

Express Deli is a family-owned deli that is making some of the best sandwiches in Cleveland. Express Deli was listed #41 in Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in America in 2018. According to a Yelper, the parents Pierre and Maha bought the place 24 years ago when they moved from Lebanon in 1998, it was more like a Mini Mart. (Note: that explains why I haven’t heard of them until now – I moved to the east side in 1992). They thought it would be a good idea to serve good deli food at the Mini Mart, and have turned it into a true deli over time as it rose in popularity. Located on Smith Road just off I-480 (W. 130th exit) and just past Brookpark Road in Brook Park, it is tucked away at the end of a small, nondescript strip mall. When you walk in you are greeted like a family friend. Head to the back – that’s where the magic happens.

Make sure to tell them if it is your first time. They offer a tasting tour of their three most popular sandwiches – the turkey, the pastrami, and the Reuben. Each features a special sauce. The turkey is served with the house dressing (a delicious herbed oil), the pastrami has a garlic mayo and is topped with a thin pickle slice, and the Reuben is a small bite of Reuben (corned beef, Swiss and kraut) with a mix of their delicious Thousand Island dressing and garlic mayo. They started the samplers about 7 years ago to have people try and love what they ended up purchasing, and maybe get them to try something they normally wouldn’t.

If you are a regular reader, you know I’m not a fan of corned beef. It is a rare place that can make me change my mind. Well, I tried the Reuben bite and liked it so much I actually ordered the Reuben on my first visit! They make their own corned beef on the premises, so maybe I’m just a fan of their corned beef. I guess I like lean corned beef. The sauce and melted cheese made every bite super creamy, and the sauerkraut was not sour at all. I can see why everyone loves this and it’s one of the top sellers.

I had originally decided to order the chicken cordon bleu wrap until I tried the Reuben, so that was my choice on my next visit. Maybe it was an off day, maybe the Reuben has ruined me for all other sandwiches, because I thought it was just okay. The cordon bleu sandwich has a lot of fans. It’s made with chicken, ham, Swiss, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and a honey mustard sauce. I don’t see any tomato, but it still wouldn’t have magically saved it. I’m not a huge fan of wraps; I find the texture of the wrap or pita too dry, which then detracts from the fillings. I’ll try it on a hoagie next time, because it is one of my favorite food pairings.

One of their other most popular sandwiches is the Beirut Chicken. I asked what bread he might recommend for it instead of a pita wrap, but he really urge me to get the pita wrap since there was so much going on in the sandwich. It is made with marinated & sautéed chicken breasts, garlic mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, thin sliced pickles, cole slaw, and sriracha. I was initially only going to eat a few bites and then eat the Reuben I had also ordered, but I soon found that I had eaten half of the sandwich and was ready to finish it. The sandwich was that good! The flavors really complemented each other, and each bite was a delight. I set aside the sandwich to eat half of my Reuben and was pleased that the wrap only got soggy in one spot when I went to eat it later. And for the record the Reuben was perfect the next day – no sogginess to speak of despite all the sauces on it.

I also ordered the chicken noodle soup. Since I wasn’t eating it right away I was okay with it not being heated up. Once I was ready to eat it at home, it heated up nicely, and the noodles were a total treat. The homemade broth will definitely cure what ails you!

They have a huge cooler filled with soft drinks, iced teas, flavored water, hard seltzers, and beer as well as a wall of crunchy snacks (chips, pretzels) to go with your sandwich. I also grabbed a bag of Zappo’s Voodoo Chips and Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips (my two favorite chips) and a bottle of Mountain Dew and a Crush Grape. The chips and beverages are very well-curated. The homemade cookies are also soft and delicious.

The macaroni salad was just okay. Davis Bakery has ruined me for all other macaroni salads. The pasta salad was really tasty. I highly recommend it. It looks like the black bits are olives, but they are beans. I still didn’t hate it. The seafood salad was great. I ate it straight out of the container with a fork, but it was especially good on a toasted slice of croissant bread. I also enjoyed the pickle. I do plan to try the potato salad too. But come here for the sandwiches.

I must be spoiled from all my years in Germany, because the Braunschweiger sandwich just didn’t do it for me. I prefer a softer meat spread. It’s also possible that it was too much of a good thing. I got there close to closing time, and she used up the Braunschweiger on my sandwich. It was very generous, but I prefer thin slices over huge hunks. I won’t get this again, but there are plenty of other delicious-sounding sandwiches to choose from.

There are no tables. It’s takeout only. Eat in your car if you must.

Open Monday through Friday from 9 to 5 and Saturday from 11 to 4.

Contact info:

Express Deli
5185 Smith Road
Brook Park, OH 44142
(216) 267-7878