fish on rye and onion rings

The Fishery satisfies in Lent and all year ‘round

If you like seafood and fish, dine in a city that’s close to the water. This seems like good advice, but for reasons lost to history, Louisville has always been an exception to this rule.

The city is, and has been, crazy for seafood – particularly fried mild white fish – and we reportedly rank second only to Boston in cod consumed per capita, even though we must look hundreds of miles farther than the muddy Ohio for our source of supply.

Even those who don’t observe Lent, the penitential 40 days before Easter, find it mighty hard to ignore the tasty fish fry at this time of year, as it seems just about everyone has to get out at least once or twice during the season for a sample of cod, scrod, whitefish, grouper or what have you.

If a church fish fry meets your fancy, many parishes in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville serve fish sandwiches Friday evenings during Lent. For details, check Two East End Episcopal churches – St. Mark’s (2822 Frankfort Ave., 895-2429) and St. Luke’s (1206 Maple Lane in Anchorage, 245-8827) also welcome you with Friday evening fish dinners through April 15.

St. Matthews’ fried-fish options have diminished with the closing of Carolina Seafood last spring and the announced departure of Stan’s Fish Sandwich in May. This week, though, let’s visit The Fishery, a St. Matthews landmark that’s still going strong.

A smallish place in a building at the corner of Lexington Road and Bauer Avenue that looks a bit like a Cape Cod house, The Fishery manages to squeeze table seating for maybe two dozen into a neat room decorated with shellfish-and-coral wallpaper. Walk into the service room, examine the blackboard menu and order through a service window. Wait for your number to be called, grab the goodies from another window and take it our or sit down and dine: The Fishery makes it easy.

The menu is simple enough, with ample choices for those who love fish and for landlubbers, too. About 15 “Dinners” and “Specials,” served with your choice of two sides, range in price from $4.75 (for a bratwurst special – I told you it wasn’t all fish) to $10.95 (for fried scallops, Gulf shrimp or a pan-fried oyster dinner). Or you may put together a combo dinner, with a half-order of any two dinners, for $10.95.

Sandwiches are $3.25 (for bratwurst) to $6.95 (for an oyster sandwich), served without sides. Speaking of sides, there’s a delicious array, served with specials and dinners or a la carte.

Just about everyone comes to The Fishery for fish, though, and so did we. The scrod special ($7.50) comes with an oversize piece of “scrod” (a generic term for cod, haddock, pollock or other mild white fish) on our choice of light, seeded rye. It was crisply breaded and competently fried, grease-free, to a light golden color. I thought a little more salt was called for, and a little thick tartar sauce from the table squeeze bottle kicked it up another notch. I substituted onion rings for fries (50 cents extra) and got thick, sweet rings with similar crunchy, grease-free breading.

Our other sides included decent country-style green beans and stovetop macaroni and cheese, and fine-chopped cabbage slaw in a tangy-sweet creamy dressing. Cups of chowder (50 cents) were steaming and thick, with plenty of minced clams and plenty of fragrant black pepper.

It was a fine, traditional Louisville meal for Lent or any other season, and filled us up for $22.10.

The Fishery
3624 Lexington Road