That is one of the best fish fries I've had in a long time.
That is one of the best fish fries I've had in a long time.
Even at lunch it comes with a hearty helping of New England clam chowder and marble rye.
Even at lunch it comes with a hearty helping of New England clam chowder and marble rye.

Packing it in at a fish fry landmark

My never-ending quest for the perfect fish fry – which, by my definition, includes potato pancakes – took me to an admittedly obvious spot last week.

The Packing House, 900 E. Layton Ave., is not only not a secret, it's the opposite of a secret. But, I admit, I'd never made it over to the restaurant across from the airport, to give it a try.

Part of what kept me away is the restaurant's reputation for popularity, which I've always assumed means long wait times. The snaking row of cars waiting for service at the Friday night drive-thru did nothing to assuage that trepidation.

But then I learned a few things. First, you can get the dinner fish fry at lunch. Second, reservations are accepted. Third, Friday nights don't really get busy until about 6:30. So, if, like me, you have little kids and fear a wait. Any of these options could prove useful.

I went over for lunch on Friday and had the perch fry, which is $14.95 and worth every penny, though, I admit, like many, I rarely want to spend $14.95 on lunch.

However, my lunch consisted of a big cup of great New England clam chowder and a bread of marble rye, two of the best potato pancakes I've had and three butterflied pieces of perch. Of course, there were the attendant sauces: apple and tartar, and lemon wedges.

The perch comes breaded and while three pieces doesn't sound like much, look at the photo above and you'll see that each piece is really two. The breading is crisp and blessedly free of grease, the fish tasty and flaky.

The potato pancakes are about hockey puck-sized but share no other traits with that hard rubber piece of sports equipment. They're dense without being tough and dry; they're lightly peppered and thoroughly satisfying.

Your humble scribe packs a pretty powerful appetite and this meal would fill me up on any day of the week. Alas, I can only enjoy it on a Friday. But, fortunately, I now know that there are a few ways I can dig in without sitting in the lobby for an hour.


Packing House | Jan. 22, 2013 at 1:35 p.m. (report)

Thanks for the great review. I'd like to add that our regular cod fish fry is also available. It is only $10.95 at lunch and until 6. The drive thru is available from 3-9 and features our hand breaded cod for only $10.95 also. Join us!

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