Try a fry: part one

SR Volunteer Fire Co. fish fry, reviewed

Published by Sophia Bills, Date: March 6, 2024
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As a pescatarian, I appreciate the easy access to fish that the Christian season of Lent provides. 

I keep seafood in my diet as an occasional treat and for protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Not going fully vegetarian was also meant to keep my menu options a little less limited. It is often difficult, though, to find pescatarian options, especially when travel necessitates fast food stops. 

However, during Lent, fish is plentiful. Plus, in a rural region of Pennsylvania with a church on every corner, so are fish fries.

From February into March, I attended and reviewed both of Slippery Rock’s fish fry Fridays: SR Volunteer Fire Company’s (SRVFC) and St. Peter’s.

I chose SRVFC for my first-ever fish fry as theirs was the first one I became aware of via the signs around town. My guest on the evening of Feb. 23 was my coworker James Cressman, who had also never attended such an event.

James and I arrived at the fire station on the earlier side of the event at around 4:45 p.m. The nearby parking lot was already filling up. With other people around, it was easy to see where to enter the building neither of us had ever been in.

The fire hall was bustling with numbers being called out and people of all ages ordering, waiting for their food or eating at long tables that had been set up in the bright room.

Yes, attendees could order as there were multiple options available. The price was $13–cash or card. Kids’ meals were $7.

I chose fish and fries, and James went for chicken and cheesy potatoes. Our meals came with coleslaw, a dinner roll and our choice of a drink and dessert.

Lemonade and iced tea were the drinks, and I had a combination of both. We eyed the dessert from across the room as we waited for our numbers to be called from the kitchen. 

We could watch the cooks in the kitchen, who appeared to be volunteers at the station, through a window. They ran an impressive and efficient business. We could tell this was not their first rodeo.

Without much of a wait, our numbers were called and we received plastic bags containing our meals. At the same time, workers were filling take-out and delivery orders.

James and I found a seat at one of the long, fire hall-style tables. Individually wrapped plastic silverware, napkins and sauce packets lined the tables. The seats were not all full yet, so we left space between us and others.

Unpacking my grocery bag, I noticed that the venue used styrofoam containers for the main portion. I winced a little at the amount of waste an event like this would produce. However, I appreciated how portable everything was, as even the dessert came in a plastic clamshell.

It was time to dig in. The fish, quite hot off the grill, tasted like fish sticks but in fillet form. I am not enough of a connoisseur to know which type of white fish it was. I was served one and a half pieces, a sizable portion for the price.

James reported that the chicken was good and did not seem like the usual frozen grocery store kind but an upgrade, which he appreciated. As for the fries, it seems that the cheesy potatoes were the better potato choice. James thoroughly enjoyed his.

Halfway through, I opened my tartar sauce and ketchup for the fish and fries, respectively. The fries especially benefitted from the condiment. The roll was a typical dinner roll, and I enjoyed it.

I am not usually the biggest coleslaw person, but how often do I get to eat good vegetables as a college student? It was a decent balance of creamy, peppery and sweet.

Dessert might have been our most anticipated course. The options were many different types of homemade cakes, sliced and individually packaged.

James opted for Funfetti with sprinkles. For me, it had to be what looked like a delicious spice cake with cream cheese frosting. The cakes proved themselves as tasty as they looked. Other options included chocolate, vanilla/white and angel food cake.

Enough about the food. What about the atmosphere? The workers were friendly and helpful, and the attendees appeared to be enjoying themselves. The seats began filling in.

“That guy over there–that is a premier head of hair and beard. A+,” James, a bearded man himself, said as we sat and observed.

We offered the seats next to us to newcomers.

“Table’s all set for us and everything,” I overheard a man say as he settled down to the feast.

“It’s always busy here but never too crowded to sit down,” another said.

Another notable aspect was the raffle. For $2 tickets, attendees could throw their names in the hat to win a fire pit, two lawn chairs, a speaker and hot dog roasting sticks. If James had cash and if I had a place to actually put the prize, we might have partaken in what seemed like a good deal.

James and I stayed for around an hour. In that time, we figured that the kitchen filled with almost 100 orders.

James was curious about the amount of cakes and other preparations for the well-attended event. We learned that the workers had baked 30 cakes. They were unsure of how many dinners they had served so far as order numbers did not start at zero.

Overall, the event lived up to its name. It was what one would expect for a small Western Pennsylvania town fire hall fish fry: a place to come together to share a meal with people young and old.

James and I concluded that the dinner was more about community than food.

“I think it was fun being in there and seeing people come and go,” James said. He noticed friends and strangers alike socializing.

We agreed that the SRVFC fish fry’s biggest strengths are its efficiency, cheesy potatoes and cake. We felt like portions were adequate for the price. Room for improvement lies in making packaging more environmentally friendly and perhaps adding pop as drink options.

SRVFC wins ‘Most Choices’ for their fish fry!

Look for part two, my review of St. Peter’s fish fry, online.

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Sophia is a second-year English major with a concentration in literary, film and cultural studies. They are minoring in strategic communication and media studies. This is Sophia's second year serving as assistant copy/web editor. Outside of The Rocket, Sophia is involved in RockOUT, the Honors College Health and Wellness Subcommittee, UPB, YAL Rocks and Sigma Tau Delta. In her free time, Sophia enjoys reading historical fiction, painting and caring for their plants.

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