Sunshine Pho

We now return to our regularly scheduled (or in the current situation not so regularly scheduled) blog. I have been undergoing some dietary changes since March 10th and have lost 20 pounds and significantly changed my palate and portion sizes. I have been eating at home more often and eating more smaller meals. It also doesn’t help that money is tight, and I have to watch my voluntary spending. Expensive meals just aren’t in the cards at the moment. I will still try to go out, but I can’t promise it will be as regular as it has been in the past. Maybe more like once a month instead of twice a month. I’ll try to write up some of my older backlog of photos/visits to make up for it. I try to visit a restaurant at least twice before blogging about it, but that might not always happen. Anyway…

There’s a new pho place in town. The restaurant takes the spot of Szechuan Café, which recently closed in the back of Asia Plaza in Asiatown (E. 30th between Payne & Superior – in the plaza with Park to Shop) and opened in February 2023. The parking lot there is always bustling but has plenty of free parking. I’ve managed to park close to the entrance twice now. I can’t say how busy it is on the weekend though. The dining area itself is bright, airy and clean.

It serves a wide variety of Vietnamese dishes, from spring and summer rolls to broken rice and cold or stir-fried rice noodles, ramen, phos and soups, and a half dozen choices of banh mi, including a vegetarian version. In fact, there are eight different versions of pho, including two assembled with chicken broth and chicken meat. The restaurant also serves the spicy beef noodle soup known as bun bo hue or various fried rice dishes. You can choose from grilled pork, grilled shrimp and grilled chicken or a combination of them as well as lots of choices for vegetarians. The banh mi can be made of grilled meat, ham or BBQ pork or a combination.

My friends gathered here shortly after it opened, and some of them brought their mothers who had never had Vietnamese food or were at least not very well-versed in it. I recommended the broken rice and pork chop to one of the mothers, so she ordered the House Special Rice Plate (C5 Cơm Đặc Biệt) because she liked the photo, and she loved it. It features a combination of pork chop, shredded pork, pork cake, fried egg, cucumber, tomato, and broken rice. She especially enjoyed the pork cake.

The service at Pho Sunshine was also excellent. Our server was super personable as well as friendly and attentive and made sure that we had everything we needed throughout our meal. We kept him on his toes but made sure he was well-compensated for it.

I started off by ordering honeydew smoothie. It was delicious. I miss the honeydew smoothie at Panera.

I then split the summer rolls with one of the mothers so we could enjoy both and not have to decide. We ordered one order with grilled pork and one order with pork and shrimp. We both agreed that the shrimp one was superior. Probably due to the peanut dipping sauce. Love that dipping sauce!

Summer rolls – Shrimp and pork on the left, grilled pork on the right

I have several things I enjoy at Vietnamese restaurants, and I ordered all of them on the first visit. In addition to the summer rolls, I ordered a grilled pork banh mi, which was absolutely delicious, as well as a pho and a vermicelli bowl.

Grilled pork bahn mi – Visit 1 on the left, visit 2 on the right

The bahn mi I chose (A10 Bánh Mì Thịt Nướng) was chock full of grilled pork, pickled veggies and a deliciously light sauce. The French bread has a nice crust, and they use a good amount of meat and veg fillings. I picked off the two jalapenos, but didn’t tell them to hold them because I like the subtle juice that is left on the bread, but not the crunchy pepper itself. I honestly couldn’t wait to go back and order it again and went to lunch a week or so later.

Rare beef pho – Visit 1 on the left, visit 2 on the right

I ordered the pho with rare beef (Pho Dac Biet). I wasn’t in the mood for fatty brisket and don’t like the texture of pho meatballs. The pho came out piping hot with a little cap of raw beef peeking out. I added the mung beans and basil leaves and gave it a deft squeeze of lime. The beef was tender and juicy, the noodles were perfectly cooked, and it had a deliciously savory broth. The broth was so good that I didn’t need to add any sriracha or hoisin to it, like I usually do. I enjoyed as much as I could and packed the rest up to go. One of my fellow diners taught me the trick of packing up the noodles separate from the broth so the noodles don’t disintegrate.

I also ordered a vermicelli bowl with grilled pork and spring rolls (B7 Bún Thịt Nướng Chả Giò) as well on my first visit. I poured the delicious fish sauce dressing over a small portion of the veggies and really enjoyed the freshness and lightness of the dish. I added the rest when I ate it for lunch the next day so it didn’t get soggy.

I got lots of to go boxes and enjoyed my meals for the next few days. When I returned at lunch a few weeks later I ordered the exact same things, except this time I ordered an iced Vietnamese coffee and didn’t get a vermicelli bowl. The visit was just as good, and the server was attentive since I was sitting by myself and only a few tables were occupied.

I look forward to my next visit. I’m intrigued by the Bún Riêu Crab Vermicelli Noodle Soup (B15), which is a combination of pork, shrimp, crab meatballs, and vermicelli noodles in tomato soup. And I’m craving a grilled pork bahn mi – although maybe I’ll try it with grilled shrimp or grilled chicken this time. And has anyone tried Bánh Mì Xíu Mại – the Shumai Sandwich (2 meatballs)? I’m curious what shumai meatballs served in tomato sauce with French bread on the side is like. Lots of good choices to choose from – and vegetarians have a full page of choices.

Contact info:

Pho Sunshine
2999 Payne Avenue, Suite 142
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 515-1111


St. Barnabas in Northfield

Did I save the best fish fry for last? I enjoyed an outstanding fish fry at St. Barnabas in Northfield tonight. It was one of the few churches offering a fish fry on Good Friday. Most pull back to focus on the Good Friday services, but this fish fry is put on by the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and hosted by the church. They serve from 4:30 to 7 PM every Friday. The new priest arrived at the same time I did and was asked by the guy holding the door open for guests how the service went.

Finding it was pretty easy. My GPS brought me straight to the parking lot and the signs pointed me where to go. The fish fry was being held in the Gynasium. It was easy enough to find, and there wasn’t a line at all. They had two cash registers taking the orders, and I was able to pay with my debit card, which was nice because I had just spent my cash earlier today at State Meats getting the fresh kielbasa and lamb butter for our Easter dinner. I ordered a little bit of his and a little bit of that, so it added up.

The cafeteria was a good choice for it. The food was being served out of the kitchen at the back wall, and the drinks and cake were along the right wall. The Boy Scouts were conscientiously roaming the room with rolling carts, collecting trays, empty dirty plates and running to grab condiments as needed.

Let’s talk about the meal. They advertise the fish fry by talking about serving “pub style” Icelandic cod and fresh squeezed lemonade. They should also emphasize that they have a different special every week. This week they were serving Baja fish tacos. I decided to get a fish dinner with two pieces of fish and a crab cake and pierogi as sides. The Icelandic cod was flaky and moist. I ate one piece and saved the second one for tomorrow. The crab cake was great – served with a special mustard and more crab than breading. The pierogi were probably Mrs. T’s but they were cooked perfectly and had a nice amount of carmelized onions. Even the cole slaw was tasty – fresh veggies with a creamy sauce. But let’s talk about the real star in my eyes – the French fries. The fries were amazing! They are billed as “premium long cut french fries”and were crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside. There was no additional flavoring – just pure potato goodness. They were honestly the best fries I have eaten in a while. I also really enjoyed the fresh squeezed lemonade. It was totally worth the cost.

 If you choose to get your meal as a carryout meal, you can phone in your order starting at 2:00 p.m. each Friday at 330-800-6804 (Note new phone number) or order online at I asked for a to-go box (biodegradeable!) as soon as I sat down and took half of my meal home for tomorrow. This fish fry is going on the rotation next year for sure. I enjoyed every single item on my tray.

Contact info:

St. Barnabas Catholic Church
9451 Brandywine Road (fish fry is at 9200 Olde 8 Road)
Northfield, OH 4406
(330) 800-6804

Bonus Fish Fry 2023: Ohio City Provisions

I have always been a big fan of Fresh Fork Market, a weekly subscription farm buying club. I was a subscriber for several years until I realized I was throwing out too much produce (even with a small share), so I quit and started shopping at their store in Ohio City – Ohio City Provisions. I get the same products, but I can pick and choose what I need. From meat and cheese to produce and baked goods, the quality of Fresh Fork and Ohio City Provisions is amazing – and so are their special meals. Their sit-down Thanksgiving dinners for subscribers pre-COVID were amazing. I have also ordered special meals from them such as fried chicken or other carryout meals. So I knew a fish fry from OCP would be something special. They serve their fish fry all Lent, from February 24 to April 7. Pre-order required. I ordered it on March 24th for the 31st. Order as soon as you can, because they do sell out. OCP is located on Lorain Road just past St. Ignatius High School (same side of the street). You can park in front of the building or on the side of the building on a side street.

The dinner did not disappoint. The fish dinner was $18. It featured beer-battered Atlantic cod, housemade coleslaw (cabbage, carrots, apples, beets), handcut-russet potato fries topped with a generous sprig of rosemary, and housemade tartar sauce made with mayo, candied jalapenos, fresh dill and chives. I chose the earliest pick-up time so that I could still attend a fish fry in the evening. I had to wait a few minutes while they fried up my dinner. It doesn’t get any fresher than that.

I couldn’t resist and tucked into one of the pieces of fish in the car. It was probably the best battered and fried piece of fish I’ve eaten in a long time. The batter contained a hint of lemon and it puffed around a generous piece of moist and flaky cod. I also had a few fries, which were perfectly cooked as well. I reheated it on Saturday for a nice lunch. It reheated perfectly in the air fryer. You still have one more Friday if you want to try it. Order here.

Contact info:

Ohio City Provisions
3208 Lorain Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 465-2762

Fish Fry Friday #7 2023 – St. Adalbert in Berea

I had been here before COVID and loved it. Any place that serves Dick’s Bakery is Aces in my book. Dick’s Bakery has amazing baked goods, but their Date Nut cake is the thing of legends. My high school graduation cake was a Date Nut sheet cake from Dick’s Bakery. That was way back in 1987, and I still love it. Well, things have changed post-COVID, and now, instead of including a dessert with the fish fry, the youth have a baked goods sales (free with donation) to support the group’s summer retreat to Steubenville. I can totally respect and support that.

Fish fry entrance is on the left; carry out on the right past the overhang.

Even without a dessert you still get a lot of bang for your buck here at St. Adalbert’s fish fry. It costs $13 and is all you can eat. It’s $11 for Seniors 60+ and $7 for kids 3-12. Cash or check only. The dinner includes baked breaded cod, cole slaw, mac n cheese, cabbage and noodles, three kinds of pierogi (kraut, potato and cheese – you can get up to four on your first go-around, then they limit you to two at a time), fresh cut french fries and coffee, water, lemonade or iced tea. I skipped the french fries and got one each of the pierogi. They ask that you limit what you choose, since the money goes to charity. I knew I wouldn’t be partaking in the all-you-can-eat feature, so I wanted to make sure I finished everything I chose. If you do choose to get more you just need to go to the right of the serving tables and they’ll take care of you.

Lines, lines, everywhere there’s lines…

The fish fry starts at 4:30. I got there shortly before 4, and the parking lot was almost full. I got into line at 4:15, and the line spanned down the hall and into the church foyer. And the line never subsided the whole time I was there. They have some bench seating along the sides, but if you have problems standing that long you may want to skip it or get carry out. One woman almost collapsed from low blood sugar and had to be carried to a bench. She was stubborn and got back into line after a few minutes. Her husband ended up seating her at a table as soon as they entered the hall and continued in the line to get dinners for them both. Because the line wrapped around the back and side of the hall as well.

They opened the hall doors at 4:30, and it took 45 minutes to work our way to the serving tables. It was fun looking at all the old photographs from the history of the church. One photo featured the first baptised baby from the 1830s!

Carry out is open from 4:30 to 6:30 and is in a completely separate area on the right side of the building. The choices include the fish dinner, a pierogi dinner, a fish sandwich and a kids’ meal. You can dine in from 4:30 to 7:30, but I was told they will lock the doors sometimes at 6:30 or 6:45 if they think they are going to run out of food. So the long lines were not just because it was their last fish fry of the year. It’s because the food is EXCELLENT and a total bargain!

Let’s start with the fish. It was delicious. They only serve baked breaded cod, so if you are looking for gluten-free options you are out of luck. But folks, this was one of the tastiest pieces of fish I’ve enjoyed all year – and I really loved St. Joseph’s. I don’t know what made it so tasty, but paired with the tartar sauce each bite was an absolute delight. I ALMOST went back for a second piece, but decided my diet and body wouldn’t appreciate that. I have been taking a semiglutide for the last 3 weeks, which is changing my tastes and what my body can handle. My digestion is slowing, and I will soon be unable to handle fatty, fried foods and sugar. But hey, I’m already down ten pounds.

OK, moving on to the sides. The mac n cheese was really good – not too goopy and not too sweet. The cheese clung to the pasta very well. The cabbage and noodles were great. The cabbage was cut up into small pieces, and the noodles and cabbage were easy to eat with a fork (which is not always the case). I chose one of each of the pierogo choices. The kraut and potato were great – very savory, nicely flavored without too much filling. I saved the cheese pierogi as my dessert, because it was filled with a sweet farmer’s cheese. I can’t say anything about the fries, but the guy sitting next to me enjoyed them a lot. I paired my meal with an Arnold Palmer (half lemonade, half iced tea). I can highly recommend St. Adalbert’s fish fry! Put them on the list for next year.

Contact info:

St. Adalbert Church
66 Adalbert Street
Berea, OH 44017
(440) 234-6830

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