Few things make you feel more seen as a Catholic than restaurants and fast-food chains promoting their fish offerings during Lent. In fact, some places only offer their fish sandwiches during Lent. It’s nice to know that on a meatless Friday at least the fast-food chains have your back.
But not all fish sandwiches are created equal. That’s why Christine Rousselle, D.C. correspondent for Catholic News Agency, put her arteries on the line and reviewed five fast-food fish sandwiches as a service to Catholics everywhere.
Christine stopped by The Cale Clarke Show this week to give listeners her take on which sandwich reigned supreme. Here’s what she had to say:
Arby’s Crispy Fish
The Arby’s Crispy Fish was new to the rankings this year and also new to me. I’m pretty sure I’ve only ever ordered curly fries at Arby’s, which are really, really good.
It was the only sandwich that was served on a sesame seed bun, which I thought was interesting. That was kind of an elevating factor. And it was honestly the only sandwich I received that had an appropriate amount of tartar sauce. But those are basically the only good things. Everything else about the Arby’s Crispy Fish was just kind of meh.
Final review: “It wasn’t a bad time but it wasn’t a good time. But also Lent is about penance, so maybe this is appropriate.”
Final ranking: 3rd place
Burger King’s The Big Fish
The Big Fish did give me a stomach ache when I was done with it. But, similar to Arby’s, it was also kind of boring. There were pickles and iceberg lettuce which I thought was a good choice, but it was also too much lettuce. You mostly just tasted tartar sauce and lettuce when you ate the sandwich, with a vague fish product in there.
It said it had tartar sauce, but I’ve never seen tartar sauce without the relish bit of it, so I’m pretty sure they just put mayonnaise on it. And the Big Fish sandwich had too much mayonnaise.
Final review: “I was eating it and had the distinct feeling of doom come over me. Like I was shortening my life span eating this sandwich.”
Final ranking: Tied for last place
The Filet-O-Fish was the first “Catholics, please come and eat food at my restaurant on a Friday” product. There’s something to be said for that. It’s not a bad sandwich, it’s just that everyone else’s sandwiches are better. I don’t think they’ve changed the Filet-O-Fish recipe since it was first debuted in the 70s or maybe the 50s. Times have changed, food trends have changed, fast food trends have changed. And the Filet-O-Fish unfortunately has not changed.
Final review: “I think it would just be a better sandwich if they put lettuce, tomatoes, or pickles on it.”
Final ranking: Tied for last place
Popeyes Cajun Flounder Sandwich
I was thoroughly impressed with this sandwich. Though I thought my sandwich could have used a little more tartar sauce, your experience may vary. It had a spice to it, which every other fast food chain neglected to think about. It wasn’t too spicy or overpoweringly spicy, so that was good.
When I took my first bite I actually had the thought that I don’t know if I’ve ever had flounder before. But it was the only non-pollock fish sandwich (though I don’t actually know what the fish in the Filet-O-Fish was because the website link was broken) and I think it made a big difference. Flounder has some heft to it, and it tasted really good.
Final review: “I would eat it on a not-Friday.”
Final ranking: 1st place
Wendy’s Crispy Panko Fish Sandwich
After my first bite I said out loud (and I live alone so that’s really weird), “Well done Wendy’s!” I did not expect it to be as good as it was. It was crispy, there was an audible crunch.
The sandwich I tried in 2018 from Wendy’s was overpowered with dill, and the main thing about that sandwich was that it tasted so much like dill. But I guess they tweaked the recipe. I don’t know what they did but they figured it out.
If you live near a Wendy’s and not near a Popeyes and you really want a fish sandwich, I would go to Wendy’s.
Final review: “It was a good time. I wasn’t mad that I was eating it.”
Final ranking: 2nd place
You can find Christine’s full reviews, plus her awards for categories like Best Bread, Best Fillet, Cheapest Option, and Most Calories at Catholic News Agency.
Listen to the full conversation with Christine Rousselle below:
The Cale Clarke Show airs weekdays at 5:00 p.m. Central on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.