Hoak’s Restaurant – Fish Fry Review

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When it comes to Hamburg, NY, Kate has pretty much one thing to say about it: “Hamburg is mysterious.” So, when Siri decided that we must take the Buffalo Skyway to get there, mysterious was the least of Kate’s worries. You see, the Skyway is one of the most treacherous stretches of pavement in existence. It’s also elusive. I think I had to circle the on-ramp twice before trying my approach from an alternate angle. We finally made it on the Skyway, and after passing 9 million acres of industrial wasteland, we reached our destination.

Hoak’s Restaurant is a fairly unassuming little place on the shore of Lake Erie, and after cruising through the stench of factories, it’s quite welcoming to be greeted with the delightful aroma of deep fryers full of fish. This place was recommended to me by my good friend, Chimo, who called it “the Paula’s Donuts of fish fries.” Those are some big shoes to fill.

Although there was a parking lot full of cars, we only had to wait a few moments for a table for two—that includes waiting for the hostess to finish her conversation with some mommy who must have been one of her students who is sad to hear she’s retiring from her day job as a teacher. (I’m making some assumptions and filling in some gaps here, but I think that’s what was going down.)

We were shown to our table in what must be the back sun-room of some sort, which had a fantastic view of the icy waters of Lake Erie. Shortly after being seated, a 7-year-old boy dropped off some bread. I’m only half joking. He was 14, but it was still a bit surprising.

We ordered our fish fries, which our waitress explained were not beer-battered. Hoak’s fish fry is battered and breaded. Say what? Yes, you read that right: battered and breaded. That leaves a lot to the imagination, so we didn’t know what to expect.

Our dinners arrived very quickly, and looked much more “fancy” than I had in mind. The fish was encased in a thin, crispy coating of a slightly salty batter and covered in a cornmeal breading. Very unique, and quite tasty. The fish itself was more “fishy” than other fish fries we’ve had, but not in a bad way—it seemed fresh. The coleslaw was fresh and tasty, albeit more tangy than others. Perhaps made with the tangy zip of Miracle Whip. I had a baked potato, which was average, and Kate had French fries, which were crispy.

Overall, a truly unique experience.

Sorrentino’s Spaghetti House – Fish Fry Review

20130308-211519.jpgDo not get a fish fry from Sorrentino’s Spaghetti House. Is that clear enough? Do you need some more explanation? Fine. Read on.

If you like a delicious, crisply fried, beer-battered fish fry, Sorrentino’s is sure to disappoint. What they offer is deep fried haddock, coated with Italian-style breading. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not terrible, it’s just nothing like the traditional fish fry that you’re seeking.

The specifics

We ordered take-out—so we can’t speak for their dine-in experience—and had very high hopes, because like some of Buffalo’s best fish fries, Sorrentino’s came in a Styrofoam box. We should have been more skeptical, because rather than being served with the usual sides, the Sorrentino’s fish fry comes with soup, coleslaw, tartar sauce, and your choice of French fries, potato salad or pasta. (We’re assuming when they say “pasta” without the word “salad” after it, they mean an actual side of spaghetti.)

The sides

The coleslaw was finely chopped, like Gino’s, and served at 100°F. Needless to say, we stopped eating after a regrettable first forkload, for fear of botulism. The minestrone soup met a similar fate. It had a distinct flavor that can only be described as “Irish Spring Soap.” We opted for French fries, which were crinkle-cut, and only moderately decent.

When it comes to the lack of beer-batter and the use of Italian breadcrumbs on a fish fry, Kate summed it up best. “If I wanted chicken cutlets, I would have made them myself.”

Curry’s Restaurant – Fish Fry Review

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On the insistence of some friends, we broke down and gave Curry’s a shot. Now, unless you’re hanging out at St. Joe’s for some reason, Curry’s won’t be your nearest restaurant for a fish fry. However, unless you’re driving in from Juno, Alaska, your drive will probably be shorter than your wait for a table. That won’t be a big problem, though, because you’ll probably run into some old friends who are also waiting for a table. Especially if you’re with your Italian mother who grew up on Buffalo’s west side—in which case you’ll run into Dolly, who she hasn’t seen in a decade, then other friends of hers will show up shortly thereafter, and while you’re eating dinner, the family’s personal undertaker will be in attendance—I’m not joking.

So, this place must be pretty good, right? Well, yeah, it is.

After our 45-minute wait, we were seated in the bar area. Our waitress promptly took our order, and returned with our drinks, accompanied by three slices of rye bread (one for each of us, we presume).

Our fish fries arrived quickly, and I dug right into the side items. The macaroni salad was dressed perfectly (no one likes sloppy, soupy macaroni salad), and had a touch of tuna fish. The coleslaw was fresh, sweet, and seasoned enough to taste great, while allowing some cabbage flavor to peek through. Not being a huge fan of french fries, I opted for a baked potato—which was good enough that I ate nearly half of it before it dawned on me that I hadn’t even touched the main attraction of my meal.

The fish itself was a bit dry, and the coating could have been crispier. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious, and if we found ourselves in the neighborhood at dinner time again, we’d certainly drop by Curry’s again.

But, when it comes down to it, the fish fry at The Shannon Pub was better.

Some notes:

  • Curry’s doesn’t take reservations on Fridays
  • Their fish fry is served daily
  • Don’t expect to park in their parking lot—try the lot across the street
  • The prices on their website are presumably from 1993