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Fish Type: Lake Perch     Price: $15.00

Overall, I would highly recommend this Fish Fry.

Fish Score: Excellent
Potato Score: Excellent
Tartar Score: Excellent
Bread Score: Excellent
Miscellaneous Score: Good

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Comment: Coming to a consensus on anything is difficult, and when you’re talking Fish Fry it can be downright impossible. Everyone has a different idea about what they want from the most sacred of weekly meals, and the staunch Wisconsinite isn’t always willing to sacrifice theirs to the unknown. Just such a quagmire was placed upon MFF this particular Friday. With a sizeable crew in tow we were forced to be the bigger fish, and set aside our preference for new, undiscovered Fish Fry in the name of camaraderie and the greater good.

With that in mind, we passed on Cranberry Creek, and instead opted to join forces with our friends at the Maple Tree in McFarland. The first wave of our group arrived right at 7pm and made haste to the table(s) the restaurant was nice enough to let us reserve on a Friday. Within 15 minutes the remaining 12 of us straggled in and made their way over. By this time the core of our group were well into our first round of drinks and on a first name basis with the waitress so when she returned orders went in like lightning. Drinks – Fish – Boom!

On Friday the Maple Tree offers three of the major players in the Fish Fry game: cod, lake perch and walleye. Between the 12 of us we managed to sample all the styles, although the cod was far and away the most popular choice. Before the fish would find its way to us, we were allowed a trip to the salad bar. The bar was freshly loaded and meticulously groomed by several salad re-stockers. While the selection was good it wasn’t necessarily exhaustive and at least one person made their desire for a wider variety of veggies known. What was there was good however, as the slaw was zesty and creamy, the cottage cheese fit the bill, and the cheddar soup filled the chowder-void adequately.

Along with our salads we were also treated to a couple of the small slice-it-yourself bread loafs on a mini-cutting board, which we just love. MFF knows the drill with these little ditties and always “lets the knife do the work” which results in minimum bread-smoosh. If you have ever seen a novice cut into these babies you know exactly what I’m talking about when I tell you it is an art form.

As we polished off the bread and the soup (and one of us a cheese-spread mountain) the fish appeared and our focus shifted. While it took a good 20 minutes to see the fish, it clearly was a function of demand on the kitchen and not slow service as it was still nice and hot when we got it. Wasting no time I dove into the first of my six mildly-meaty perch fillets and enjoyed what it had to offer. The main take home from the perch was adequacy. While it wasn’t the best we have had, it was freshly breaded (although the breading was a little thicker than we like to see on our perch), and it had a good flavor (although not the best). Overall, it was good, and good perch disappears quickly when MFF is around.

Like the perch the cod was tasty, but not mind-blowing. While Ruthie despised it (she likes thick, crispy beer batters apparently) the bulk of group enjoyed its buttery flavor and light breading. I found it to be a little spongy, but that said, the piece I tried was no longer scalding hot when I finally got my hands on it so maybe a fresh piece would have knocked my socks off?

We feel very confident with our synopsis of the cod and the perch, but we feel less secure in our opinion on the bite or two of the walleye we tried. While the walleye seemed to be good, by the time we got to it, it was bordering on cold and not fit for a full review. That said, it clearly would have been satisfactory at least, and had we gotten to it fresh from the fryer may well have been excellent.

Partnering with my perch were a fantastic heap of hash browns with cheese and onions. These homemade shreds were delicious, and slathered with tons of onion and real cheddar cheese. Being a Supper Club you’d expect the Maple Tree to represent the ‘browns well, and I’m proud to say they were more than up to snuff.

While the perch was very good on its own, the tartar sauce really took it up a notch. This homemade blend boasted a pantload of mayo, but also an above average amount of relish. It was real nice and put the crispy coated perch into the totally-tantalizing territory.

The Maple Tree is a classic Supper Club and as such you’d expect them to represent our classic Wisconsin tradition well. Sure, at $15 it isn’t exactly the cheapest Fish Fry you are going to find, but when you take the fresh bread loaves, the trip to the salad bar and generous portions, it all adds up. Overall, we highly recommend the Fish Fry at the Maple Tree and would say it is the best fish McFarland has to offer.
6010 Hwy. 51
McFarland, WI 53558

(608) 838-5888