Dan Kane picks his favorite fried fish from local restaurants

With the arrival of Lent, fried fish will be especially sought-after for the next six Fridays.

I love the stuff year-round and decided to share my favorite items from five area restaurants.

TOP OF THE VIADUCT, 607 Lincoln Way W, Massillon

So huge is the demand for the all-you-can-eat fish dinners here on Lenten Fridays, the restaurant sets up a tent in the parking lot with an additional fryer just to help the kitchen keep up.

Fridays at suppertime, "There’s usually a line out the door. There’s a little bit of a wait but we generally turn the tables over pretty quickly," said Beth Brown, who owns Top of the Viaduct with her husband, Randy. She recommends arriving by 5 p.m. on Friday if possible.

As for the Lenten season, "We have a game plan: Stocking up on fish, making sure we have enough batter, making sure the key players are all here," she said. "And pray."

Available from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays, the all-you-can-eat fish dinner with two sides is $11.99. A two-piece dinner is $8.99 and a three-piece dinner is $9.99; these are available daily.

Fried fish is the top-selling menu item at Top of the Viaduct, which uses "white pollock from Atlantic waters. "We try to use the highest grade," Brown said. "I actually like the pollock better battered than cod."

Asked what makes the Viaduct’s fried fish so popular, she said, "The batter. There are some key ingredients in there that other people don’t use. Only three of us know the recipe. We keep it in a safety deposit box."

Personally, I opt for the three-piece dinner, and usually choose as my sides Viaduct fries, which are thin-sliced, well-seasoned redskin potatoes fried with onions and bell peppers (a 75-cent upcharge), and creamy coleslaw, always a good antidote to fried foods.

There are many side options, included french fries, sweet potato fries, tossed salad, baked potato, baked sweet potato and sweet green beans with bacon, a Viaduct specialty.

EADIES FISH HOUSE, 6616 Wise Ave. NW, Plain Township

Beer-batter fish and onion rings are a year-round attraction at this hopping spot, which has a casual oceanside seafood-shack vibe.

In a recent interview I did with owner Rudy Diotale for About Magazine, he said Eadies’ distinctive fish batter is "the same as it’s always been, since the ’60s. I make it up myself. People who haven’t been in Eadies for 20 years will walk in and say, ‘I remember that smell.’ The main fish that everyone gets is white Alaskan cod. It’s the whitest, flakiest and best you can get."

I crave the stuff, although an Eadies fried-fish-and-onion-ring binge is a guilty pleasure, I only indulge occasionally. All-you-can-eat fish with onion rings and coleslaw is offered Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for $10.50. A two-piece fish dinner is $12.99 and three-piece dinner is $14.99, both with fries and slaw.

TD’S TAILGATE GRILL, 2234 Tuscarawas St. W, Canton, and 1645 N. Main St., North Canton

Three years ago, I was part of a Lenten-themed Repository taste test of eight different fish sandwiches. While we didn’t crown an actual winner, the Crunchy Fish Sandwich at TD’s was a judges’ favorite.

I’ve ordered this sandwich four or five more times since then and it is a consistent pleaser. A large, mild and flaky fish filet is coated in seasoned corn flakes and flash fried, then served on a toasted hoagie bun. It definitely is less greasy than most fried fish. The garnishes -- tomato slices, leaf lettuce, red onion and a wedge of lemon -- add freshness and zest. I don’t bother with tartar sauce. Priced at $9.99, it comes with a pile of french fries.

TD’s co-owner Kim Shapiro told me the fish sandwich is one of the restaurant’s best sellers, along with its fish tacos, also highly recommended.

WHITE CROWN CAFE, 2528 Ninth St. SW, Canton

After several readers told me the White Crown Cafe was home to "the best fish in Canton," I decided to visit this unassuming neighborhood bar I’d driven past at least 100 times on my way to work.

I was impressed by my first whopping fish sandwich at the Crown and have been back numerous times for more fish (and burgers). The five-ounce filets of Alaskan cod are large with perfectly crispy beer batter. The one-piece fish sandwich is $4.25, the two-piece is $5.50. The sandwiches are served with tartar sauce and potato chips. Fresh-cut fries are $2.25 extra. A two-piece fish dinner with fries or baked potato is $7.50, a three-piece with potato and tossed salad or coleslaw is $9.75.

"The White Crown was known for its fish long before I was born," said bartender Spencer Dennis, whose dad, Darryl, owns the place. "During Lent, we probably go through 10 cases of fish (40 pieces each) on a Friday."

BASIL ASIAN BISTRO, 585 Market Ave. N, Canton

I was planning to write about my four favorite fried-fish spots, then I met friends for dinner at Basil last Friday and decided to add a fifth.

My hands-down favorite Basil entree is Mango Grouper ($21.99) which includes multiple filets of wonderful grouper in a light tempura batter with shredded mango, diced onions, bell peppers and fresh basil in a delicious sauce. A new favorite could be what a friend ordered, Spicy Garlic Fish ($18) with that same fried grouper in a spicy garlic glaze with bell pepper, onion and heat-providing dried red peppers.