Gone fishing

With the sea of fish fries in Northeast Ohio, we reel in 10 great Lenten destinations.
Hudson's Restaurant
Chefs Kevin and J.J. Altomare prove fish doesn't have to be served crispy with a side of fries. The brothers cook up Green's Lobster Mac and Cheese, made with lumps of lobster tossed with shell pasta and a rich blend of provolone, cheddar, American and fontina cheeses, just for Lent. "We give you such a big portion, after a salad and pasta, you definitely have stuff to take home," says Kendra Altomare of this creamy conction. $17.99. Starts Ash Wednesday, Fridays, noon to close. Hudson's Restaurant on the Green, 80 N. Main St., 330-650-1955, hudsonsrestaurant.com

St. Clarence
Leave it to a foodie to focus on the meal before the money at a fish fry fundraiser. "I'm particular about what I eat, [and] I know enough about food to be dangerous," says Rick Albertini, fifth annual fish fry organizer and St. Clarence parishioner. Each Lent, Albertini and St. Clarence parishioners serve up lake perch, homemade pierogies and coleslaw to 1,200 guests from throughout Northeast Ohio. But the real draw is the french fries. "We serve the best french fries I could get," he says. "[It's] arguably the best tasting fry in the business." $10. Fridays only, 4:30 to 7 p.m. St. Clarence, 30106 Lorain Road, North Olmsted, 440-734-2414, st-clarence.org

Around the Corner
Those who drank the last Christmas Ale are in luck. Around the Corner offers Christmas Ale beer-battered fried cod coated with a sprinkle of pepper and salt. "We usually use regular beer, but when we use Christmas Ale it tastes a little better," says Sonny Zarlis, kitchen manager and cook. Get there early since seating tends to fill on Fridays during Lent. And don't wait to make the trip. "We save the beer. By the end of Lent, we do run out," says Zarlis. $11.99. Daily 3 p.m to close, opens 11:30 a.m. Fridays, Open on Good Friday. Around the Corner, 18616 Detroit Road, Lakewood, 216-521-4413, atccafe.com

James Catering at Wickliffe Italian-American Club
Instead of the usual Pollock or cod, chef James Piorkowski bakes or fries striped pangasius (catfish) at the all-you-can-eat Friday Night Dinner at James Catering at the Wickliffe Italian American Club. "It's a cleaner tasting fish, [and] like a thick loin," says Lee Zebkar, events coordinator. Save some room because the mild and delicate member of the grouper family also comes with a slew of sides. $12.50. Fridays 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. James Catering at Wickliffe Italian-American Club, 29717 Euclid Ave., Wickliffe, 440-944-2433, jamescateringohio.com

St. Charles
It takes a whole parish to organize a fish fry, just ask six-year veteran Michelle Ramser. "It's all hands on deck Friday evening," she says. Everyone does double-duty to serve baked or fried cod, cabbage and noodles, and homemade pierogies to more than 1,000 guests each night. Kevin Leigh, the director of the athletic program, organizes the fish fry, while principal Eileen Updegrove entertains the volunteers' children by reading books and doing Lenten crafts. Even the priests and sisters push dessert carts filled with Bakers Square pies. "If it's not Father Carlin, Sister Denise has the best sales for pies hands down," laughs Ramser. $8. Fridays, Feb. 15 to Mar. 22, 4:30 to 7 p.m. St. Charles Borromeo Church, 5891 Ridge Road, Parma, 440-884-3031, stcharlesonline.org

Bunker's Sports Bar and Grill
Forget about the fish, the sides are the draw here. Troves come out for the award-winning house-made Applehouse Coleslaw. "One of our cooks was in the kitchen messing around, [and] it just happened," says general manager Chase Pinchot. With chunks of Red Delicious apples mixed with their house-made dressing, it's no wonder Bunker goes through five gallons each Friday night during Lent. "It's different from any other coleslaw. You can't really describe it. It's so flavorful," says Pinchot. Regular, $9.99; all you can eat (fish only), $11.99. Fridays starting Feb. 15, open on Good Friday, 4 to 9 p.m. Bunker's Sports Bar and Grill, 3060 Pearl Road, Medina, 330-725-1400, bunkerhillgolf.com

St. Mary Romanian Orthodox Cathedral
Get a plateful of culture with your pike at the first Romanian Orthodox Church in the country. While feasting, family and friends gobble up Romanian history depicted on the 98-foot-long, hammered copper frieze from the 1939 World's Fair lining the upper walls of the social hall. "It depicts the entire Romanian history for 2,000 years — the battles and kings," says the Rev. Remus Grama, pastor of St. Mary Romanian Orthodox Cathedral. $7 to $11. Fridays starting Feb. 15, 5 to 7:45 p.m. St. Mary's Romanian Orthodox Church, 3256 Warren Road, Cleveland, 216-941-5550, smroc.org

St. Teresa of Avila
If you crave fried fish like a cheesy gordita, try St. Teresa of Avila's drive-thru. "Guests only have to wait five to10 minutes. They don't have to get out of the car, and they're on their way," says fish fry organizer Carol Yonkof. Just because Lake Erie perch and parsley potatoes and a plethora of pierogies (the ones Michael Symon uses in his restaurants) are doled out fast, the church doesn't scrimp on portions or choices. "By going through the drive-thru, they don't lose anything. We cover a multitude of sins with our food," jokes Yonkof. $10 to $14. Fridays starting Feb. 15, open on Good Friday, 4:30 to 7 p.m. St. Teresa of Avila, Sheffield Village, 1878 Abbe Road, 440-934-4227, stteresaparish.com

Washington Place Bistro and Inn
This East Side spot is trading old-school fish-and-chips for the new-vogue Ox Tail Pierogi. "It's a very rich, hearty dish, and it's great for this weather," says Megan Lefebvre, the general manager. The decadent Ohio City Pasta's truffle-potato dumplings are topped with ragout of ox tail, oiled mushrooms, garlic and a veal stock, so the devoted may want to stop in on Wednesdays. But the pierogies, which are covered with a tangy horse radish crème fraiche, are available year-round. $13.50. Daily, hours vary, Washington Place Bistro and Inn, 2203 Cornell Road, Cleveland, 216-791-6500, washingtonplacelittleitaly.com

St. Mary of the Assumption
Although many parishioners have left the inner-city Slovenian church for the suburbs, they return each year to lend a hand for this 11-year-old Lenten tradition. They volunteer to help fry fish, boil potatoes and shred cabbage, and are rewarded with a dinner. "We also get the people who float from one fish fry to the other. Everyone's welcome," says deacon David Kushner. "They feel a strong pride for St. Mary's." $9 to $10. Fridays starting Feb. 15, 3 to 7 p.m. St. Mary of the Assumption, 15519 Holmes Ave., Cleveland, 216-761-7740, stmaryscollinwood.com

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