Monday, February 27, 2012

Fish fry: Holy Cross

I was telling my folks about my fish fry extravaganza, and they suggested we meet them at Holy Cross in the Latonia suburb of Covington on the first Friday of Lent. I don't get back to my old stomping grounds much these days, so I liked the idea of seeing the old 'hood, on the way to devouring some more fried fish. Also, my step-dad was a Holy Cross graduate, so I knew we were in for an evening of nostalgic tales of the good old days, complete with nuns and rulers.

Once Friday came around, we headed over to Latonia. I made my way to Church Street, only to discover orange barricades and one-way signs that I could only assume were new. No worries, one spin around the block and we were parking in the lot in front of the high school. Signs near each entrance steered us to the proper starting point.

At the first stop, where ordering and paying happens, there were just a few people in front of us. I later would find out that this can back up a bit, so don't be surprised to wait a few minutes to get your order in.   The folks told me that Holy Cross served cheese pizza, but there was none to be found on the menu. The kids were not impressed by this, and one went on a 10 minute hunger strike in protest. Of course, traditional fish setups on rye are the only proper way to enjoy a fish fry, so they are the focus of my comparisons. I liked the option of green beans as a side, so I took it in addition to the fries. One kid did go for the mac and cheese, which is good, since I get to eat the leftovers. Eventually the other kid came around and went back for the mac, too. I guess it looked pretty good to her.

We made our way from the pay table down to the cafeteria. The long tables and anti-bullying posters made it clear this was a high school cafeteria, but the classic tile walls and bingo board really round out the vibe. Stepping into the serving line, we were greeted by the ladies volunteering behind the line. A quick survey revealed Klosterman's bread, home-style hush puppies, home-style mac and cheese (complete with the baked top!), the green beans, and of course, the fish. Lookin' pretty good, but the geometric fish seemed out of place! After the serving line, we turned in our drink tickets for some bottled water, but we also had the choice of Bud Light or Miller Lite for an extra ticket (making the total cost $1.50).

At this point, we joined my folks, who had apparently gotten there at the opening rush, survived the ordering line, and were already into their meal. I was hungry, so I didn't waste any time digging in. The fries were good. Not soggy or cold, but not hot and crispy, a solid 'B' paper. I could probably give the same grade to the green beans, too. I guess, though, the only way to have gotten the 'A', would be the addition of ham, but that notion was quickly shot down by the Catholics at the table, with the full support of the vegetarian. The hush puppies were perfecto, and the slaw great, too. Crisp cabbage and tangy dressing, the way I like it, and horseradish optional. Yum!

The fish, though, let me down a bit. By far not the worst I ever had, but the feature dish should shine. The breading was not bad, as it was even and crispy. The fish itself though, seemed processed and unremarkable. The triangle shape should have given it away. The word institutional came to mind, since it seemed right at home in the cafeteria. I still powered through it and moved on the mac and cheese leftovers - Good stuff!

I think the best surprise was the dessert table, which features an array (two dimensional, if you care) of homemade and store-bought desserts. Lots of cupcakes to choose from. The best part, though: included with the meal. No dollar add-on here. You can have dessert AND be two thirds of the way to another beer!

So all in all, Holy Cross was fine. It was good to go back to the old neighborhood, eat with family, and get a few good-old-days stories. I might still get back there from time to time for just those reasons. I probably won't get into the habit, though, which is something I'm sure those nuns will appreciate.

If you go:

Holy Cross High School
3617 Church Street
Covington, KY
5:00pm - 8:00pm Fridays during Lent

Fish sandwiches, shrimp baskets and cheese pizza. Sides: hush puppies, green beans, macaroni and cheese or French fries and dessert.

Benefits Holy Cross Boosters.

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