Our Lady of Grace Church
310 Kane Boulevard
4:30-7 p.m., Friday, April 12
For takeout, call 412-200-2694.
Last year, Our Lady of Grace Church was the runner-up in the Incline’s Ultimate Fish Fry Bracket , getting knocked out in the final round by Ancient Order of Hibernians Division #32 in Carnegie. But the prestige of making it to that final round in the NCAA-style bracket competition—which involved thousands of Pittsburghers voting for their favorites out of 32 spots around the city—really upped Our Lady of Grace’s fish fry cred.
“Uh oh. Is this another competition?” asked fish fry coordinator Erin King when I said I was writing a review. After last year’s influx of people participating in the bracket, the church made some changes, including increasing food stock and creating a separate space for takeout orders to keep overcrowding to a minimum in the main dining area.
In fact, I visited on the first day of the new takeout system, and it operated seamlessly. Instead of entering through the main door, where folks wait in line before placing their orders, picking them up at the kitchen window and then finding a seat in the crowded dining hall, the people ordering takeout do not have to enter the main dining room at all. They use a different door further around the back of the school building, place their order and take a seat in the waiting area, where a food runner brings out their order within roughly ten minutes.
It was just enough time for me to socialize and scope out the situation in the main dining room. I placed my order at roughly 4:45 p.m., selecting a crab cake dinner for myself and a fish sandwich for my husband from their extensive menu, and the place was already packed.
Just like many of the other places we have visited for our Fish Frydays, proceeds from the Our Lady of Grace Fish Fry benefit parish projects, so a mix of children, teenagers and adults were working the event. People found their seats at long tables placed throughout the room, and along the perimeter were all of the bells and whistles—dessert, condiments and drinks tables.
Every person I encountered greeted me warmly, from the friendly volunteer at the takeout counter who answered all my questions about the menu, to their new pastor, Fr. David Bonnar, who was there enjoying dinner with his family. I returned to the takeout area, where my food was waiting, and hurried home to deliver the incredible-smelling Lenten bounty to my family (my husband, Killian, and my cat, Tonks).
I returned to find that Killian went to run some quick errands, because we were planning to leave town for the weekend as soon as we finished with our dinner—neither of us expected me to be back so soon. I could not have been gone more than 20 minutes, thanks to the church’s speedy new takeout system.
Knowing that Our Lady of Grace was a finalist in an actual fish fry competition last year, I had very high expectations for the food, and it did not disappoint. Killian, who only very grudgingly eats seafood with me in the form of fried fish during Lent, finished his entire meal with no complaints. I practically devoured my crab cakes, which were a nice size and flavorful. Between us, we had a baked potato, fries and coleslaw for sides—each in very large portions—and were pleasantly surprised to find that our takeout orders came with free brownies, which we took with us on our road trip since there was no way we could eat one more bite.
My only complaint is the incessant tapping at my elbow from my mannerless cat. She simply would not let us enjoy our meal unless she had her share—I’m a bit embarrassed to report that my 14-pound furbaby ate an entire filet by herself before deciding she was finished (it was a small “extra” filet, but still).
My final impression of the Our Lady of Grace fish fry is, “what’s not to like?” The food was top-notch, they have the typical warm, friendly dining environment that people look for at a fish fry, and they have a sophisticated takeout system for those who are in a hurry (or just aren’t feeling social). This was my final Fish Fryday review for 2019 (thankfully, as I may be a couple pounds heavier than I was when this all began), but I was glad that it ended on such a high note.