North County is mostly terra incognita to me. So when I set off to find the Knights of Columbus #2951 in Florissant, it was map time. Actually, it wasn’t hard to get to, but as I turned west onto St. Francois Street I began to wonder if this two-block stretch that dead-ended was correct.
Never mind that, I thought to myself as a steeple and church rose ahead, handsome and with patterned roof tiles that reminded me of Burgundy. It’s the historic Shrine of St. Ferdinand; the K of C building is to the left as you come on the grounds. The architecture of the church, rectory and convent are bonuses on this visit.
So is the menu at the fish fry, which has some options not often seen locally. That’s what drew me. The hall has two floors, the lower, which is where the kitchen and food line are, and another upstairs room that’s used for even more seating, and is a little quieter. The hubub of the kitchen was supplanted by someone playing the guitar in one corner. Order at the tray line overlooking the kitchen, receive your food, and pay for what’s on your tray. Beverages come from the bar on the opposite wall.
If you look at the menu, you can see it’s a fairly complicated one as these go. And the actual length of the tray line is fairly short. There wasn’t a long line waiting, but for those of us wanting to try multiple fish dishes, it got complicated, and things were a little discombobulated. The result was that a couple of things I’d hoped to try never got on the tray.
Nevertheless, this differentness makes the trek to Florissant worthwhile. Clam chowder didn’t seem to be the standard white-as-milk stuff – it was creamy rather than the tomato Manhattan style or the clear version found in Rhode Island and North Carolina, but it was generously flavored with celery and onion and what I suspect was thyme. The small serving is a cup – and that turns out to be a mug into which it’s ladled. Home-style, indeed.
The Cajun Crunch Tilapia was crunchy, the thin fillets making that pretty easy, and it was hit with some Cajun seasoning, but it was very light on any pepper, so safe enough for the hesitant eater. It’s nice to see salmon patties on a menu like this, certainly very retro, but having many virtues, including easy to eat and avoiding the question “How done is that piece of baked salmon?” that still concerns some folks. Crisp around the edges, not a patty of fish-flavored bread crumbs, this was very good. I could have happily eaten a double-decker sandwich of these fellows.
The big surprise here was the fish taco. Flour tortilla, a generous serving of fish, and a real pico de gallo, not just taco sauce from a jar, Very satisfying, and it by itself would be worth a return visit. The shrimp po’ boy was less successful, just because it lacked the pizzazz of the taco. Three fried shrimp on about four inches of French bread with lettuce, tomato and a little onion needed a little something more, perhaps what New Orleans natives refer to as “mynez” (mayonnaise). Not a terrible sandwich, just unremarkable.
Yes, sides, including hush puppies, and desserts like big cupcakes and pies. But it’s the salmon patties and the tacos that lure. That, and the architecture across the parking lot. Yes, they’re working on Good Friday. It appears they also do similar events throughout the year.
3.30 p.m. - 7 p.m.