What’s better than getting a big fish-fry sandwich during Lent? How about one that comes as a combo with fries and coleslaw for one easy, affordable price? Give me the ability to pay with a credit card, too, and you’ve hooked me as a regular.

Such was the case for my fish-fry visit at St. Benedict the Abbot Church in McMurray. Located on a sprawling campus in the expansive O’Brien Hall, the fish fry at St. Ben’s – as it is affectionately called by locals – is a huge, well-oiled machine with an army of volunteers keeping a packed house fed.

Everything is big at St. Ben’s, from the seating area, to the kitchen and prep area to the portions of food. For $10, I was treated to “St. Ben’s Basket,” which included a 10-ounce fried-fish sandwich with an ample side of fries and a cup of coleslaw. The fish sandwich is made from a thick cut of Alaskan cod, coated with seasoned bread crumbs. I got two huge slabs on a 10-inch hoagie bun, and cried uncle only halfway through eating it.

The fries were delicious, with a crunchy coating that wasn’t too greasy. The coleslaw was finely chopped with a thick dressing – my favorite way to serve coleslaw. While there, I also sampled the macaroni and cheese, which had a homestyle cheesiness that I enjoyed; many of the other fish fries I’ve been to have what I assume is canned restaurant cheese, which, while not bad, doesn’t give it the extra umph that St. Ben’s mac and cheese has. In all, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal.

Also on the menu are baked fish sandwiches, fried jumbo shrimp, pierogies, pizza (whole and by the slice), haluski and pasta with marinara sauce. One of the highlights of the menu is the soup; each week during Lent, St. Ben’s features a different soup prepared by Jackson’s Restaurant at Southpointe.

– Nick Kratsas

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