The Shannon Pub – Fish Fry Review

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We had been to The Shannon Pub a few years ago, and not much has changed. Perhaps the carpeting is a bit darker—but it’d be hard to compare “greasy dark green” to “greasy very dark green,” so we can’t be sure. The decor hasn’t changed, either. Maybe that’s good. Maybe it’s just the right environment for rearing a delicious beer-battered fish fry.

Wait. We’re sensing a pattern here. A good fish fry is not likely to be born in a sterile laboratory-like kitchen. When asked where to get a good fish fry in the Buffalo area, several of our friends recommended places that are poorly lit and unpretentious. The Shannon Pub fits right in, so what sets it apart?

From start to finish, every aspect of the meal was perfect. The foot-long slab of fish was coated in what might be described as some sort of fluffy crispy beer-infused pancake batter. The macaroni salad was the best Kate has ever had: not loaded with mayonnaise, and nothing added that doesn’t need to be there (read: tuna fish). The coleslaw could use a bit more seasoning—or whatever goes into coleslaw other than cabbage—but that’s being very critical. Kate opted for French fries, which are of the battered (seasoned?) variety. The kind that Burger King uses now. Pa Ingalls went with salt potatoes, which were…well…four tiny potatoes with some butter and salt. What else would you expect to be served on the Prairie?

Some notes:

They do not take reservations on Fridays. When we called, we were told to expect a wait of 30 minutes. However, we arrived at 6:40 and were seated within 20 minutes. If you arrive later into the evening, your wait will probably be shorter, but at the risk of being there when the band goes on at 8:30.

Gino’s Pizza Place – Fish Fry Review

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You might not expect to get a good fish fry from a pizza shop, and you certainly wouldn’t expect to get a great fish fry from one, either—or would you?

When we decided to review some fish fries this Lenten season, the first place that came to mind was Gino’s Pizza Place. Why? Because when their fish fry is good, it’s quite good. You not only get a giant slab of Icelandic beer-battered Haddock, you also get 4 breaded shrimp, a small bucket of coleslaw, steak fries, a wedge or two of lemon, and the equivalent of a 6-inch garlic and cheese sub (if such a delicious sub existed on any menu).

The only problem with Gino’s fish fry is the unpredictability. It’s a $10 gamble that can either net a delicious meal for two, or a collection of utter disappointment served in a 12-inch pizza box. In our experience, Gino’s fish fry is best at the beginning of the season. And by “beginning,” we really mean beginning. By the second week of Lent, you might be too late. What begins as the best fish fry in Western New York seems to quickly taper off to a greasy chunk of salty breaded meat served with some even saltier McCain crinkle cut fries. The shrimp may go from being battered to being breaded, or it may be missing altogether.

Tonight’s serving proved to be a perfect example of Gino’s at its best: completely edible, yet random. The fish was expertly fried, but rather than steak fries, we were given shoestring fries. Not a big deal, but not what we expected. The coleslaw was flavored just how we like it: sweet, a little tart, and wet but not too juicy (there’s gotta be a few puns in there). The problem? They chopped the cabbage into pieces so small you’d think they chewed the coleslaw for you. On the other hand, the battered shrimp was remarkably tasty, and the garlic bread was loaded with 14 sticks of butter and 1/2 pound of mozzarella cheese (and that’s not something we’re complaining about).

All in all, Gino’s didn’t disappoint, and kicked off our season on a positive note, with what turns out to be a pretty great fish fry. Next stop? We haven’t decided. Feel free to tweet some ideas to us: @GoodAndSneaky.