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Fish Type: Walleye     Price: $12.50

Overall, I would highly recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: Stop the presses! The Villa Tap has been sold! What will become of their fantastic Fish Fry? Will it change for the worse? Will it go up in price? Or will it simply go the way of the dodo? No no, my friends. Apparently it will not. In fact, if anything, Chico will make it even better.

We arrived at the all new “Chico’s Villa Tap” after getting the cold shoulder at The Willows and it was extremely refreshing to walk in and be greeted with a “How ya doin’” and a smile instead of “IDs!” and a scowl. The two of us sat right and the bar, got a pitcher of beer, and put our orders in for fish as soon as the friendly bartender got done “introducing” the options to us.

We all know that the lake perch at the Villa Tap is some of the best fried fish on the face of God’s green Earth, but Chico recently added walleye to the entourage, and we just had to give it a whirl. Before the freshwater duo would make its way to us, we were treated to the Villa Tap’s standard coleslaw and dinner roll combo, which is the same as it ever was – the slaw creamy, and the roll roll-y. No change from Chico on this front.

Our $12.50 platters arrived shortly thereafter and were piping hot. I wasted no time and tore into my large walleye fillet with both hands. Like the perch we’ve come to know and love the walleye was simply superb. Not only was the fish itself thick and meaty, but it sported the same ultra-flavorful breading as its aquatic brethren. The resulting flavor combo was out of this world, with moist, flaky fish, pairing flawlessly with the KFC-like coating. It was so good that it practically flew off my plate, leaving me (and the bartender) wondering exactly what happened. It was glorious.

Jer offered up a piece of the perch, which I of course pounced on. While the walleye was nothing less than spectacular I would have to say the perch was still a little better (which is really saying something). It was exactly what we have come to expect from The Tap and we were pleased to see that Chico hasn’t tried to up the ante. I mean, what could he even do? The fish is damn-near perfect as is.

While the fish conformed to standard set by the previous owner the Julienne-cut fries were a departure from what we have come to expect – but in a good way. These new skin-on spuds were better than the crinkles of old, but while the taste was improved the portion was downsized to an adequate number rather than an alarming amount. In this case, Chico chose quality over quantity, which is six of one, half dozen of the other in our book.

Apparently this book of Fish Fry has gotten around and the updates at the VT reflect that fact. The Tap sauce of old was a pungent blend, with a much larger than average portion of relish. Chico has scaled the relish quotient back some and placed a new, thicker, mayo-heavy tartar in its place. This new breed was just about perfect, fully complementing the fine fish and making it something more than just fired slab. Simply superb.

What can we say? This was another amazing experience at the Villa Tap, made all the more enjoyable when compared to the shoddy treatment we received prior to it. The fish is above reproach; whether you pick the perch, or are in want of some walleye, you can’t go wrong. One thing we did notice is that the bar seemed unusually empty for 7:30 on a Friday, but we assume it has to do with the ownership change and the fact that some of the old regulars probably moved on. Oh well, it’s no skin off our nose as long as they stay the course on Friday and keep serving that fantastic fish. Overall, we cannot recommend this Fish Fry highly enough, and who knows? If the old regulars have moved out maybe it’s time for MFF to move in? We’d at least have one of the best Fish Frys in Madison each and every Friday and some friendly folks to serve it up, we know that much.

iViva la Chico!

Chico’s Villa Tap
2302 Packers Avenue
Madison, WI 53704

(608) 244-9627