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Fish Type: Walleye     Price: $15.00

Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: Sometimes people’s reputation precedes them. The same goes for notable establishments and their Fish Frys. There are a few places like the Owl’s Nest and the Dorf House that you just knew had a great Fry before you ever set foot in the door. Then there are other places that you just aren’t sure what to you are going to get. Case and point: the all-new Graze Pub. Graze has been getting a lot of mixed reviews and when I heard they were offing a Fish Fry on Friday nights I knew I needed to verify the inconsistency for myself. We saddled up the same crew we had last Friday night, and hit the L’etoile spinoff around 7:30 bound and determined to see what was what.

We arrived to find a bustling crowd and an hour-plus wait, but being the committed connoisseurs we are, we grabbed some drinks at the crowded bar and stood our ground. A couple $2.50 High Lifes, and 45 minutes later, our steadfastness paid off and we were shown to a corner table with a spectacular view of the Capitol. Things were looking up, at least for the time being.

Our waitress came over shortly thereafter and since we had ample time to wait, we were ready for her. We gave her our orders, and she sped off to drop them by the kitchen as she grabbed us another round of drinks on her way through. The Friday Fish Fry at Graze is unique every week, and this time around they were serving a “Lake Erie Walleye” with a price tag of $15 (actually not too bad for an upscale, downtown establishment, I thought). We enjoyed the view, and each other’s company for a few more minutes and before too long the food made its grand entrance. As soon as I saw the darkly battered fish I knew I was in for a unique experience, and it most certainly was.

I of course, wasted no time and went for one of my two tiny the walleye pieces first. I was immediately struck by the hefty batter, which was incredibly thick and actually reminded me of the coating you find on a corndog. While it wasn’t bad per se, it really masked the delicate, flaky fish that housed it, rendering the walleye powerless. I quickly polished off the petite portion regardless of the funkiness of the batter, but mostly because there wasn’t much there to polish off.

Like the less than copious walleye, the Graze fries were also hard to come by. However, they were clearly homemade and very well fried so all was not lost. A scant amount of tartar flowed in the same vein as fish and fries, and the thin ranch-like mix barely made it through two small pieces of fish.

If there is any element of a Fish Fry that I would rather not have in abundance it would have to be coleslaw. Unfortunately for yours truly, a disproportionate amount of their homemade orangey goo found its way onto the plate. Much like the other items in this Fish Fry the slaw really didn’t stand out as it lacked any zest, and just didn’t keep me coming back for more.

To top it all off there was no bread served which seems like it should be a no-brainer, but apparently is not in this day and age. Blech. C’mon Graze…

If there is one thing Graze has going for it, it is their great service. I guess you kind of come to expect better service at finer dining establishments, but our waitress was on top if it from the get go. She was at our table numerous times and made sure we had everything we needed throughout the entire meal. I chalk it up to the fact that the dining room was well organized and they seem to know how many tables a waitress can actually handle, and still keep customers satisfied. Truly top notch.

Overall, this is just not a recommendable Fish Fry as far as Fish Frys go. Granted, Graze is not the kind of place you think of when you think of a great Fish Fry, and it is nice that they are trying to make the Wisconsin tradition a priority, but the walleye just didn’t quite cut it. While the batter was unique, it was just a little too much and unfortunately the tartar was not there to lend any support. Good, fries and a mass of slaw are good, but not game changers, and when you take into account the total lack of bread there just isn’t enough there to add up. Graze, all I can say is, thanks for trying, unfortunately we just can’t give your walleye the MFF seal of approval.
1 South Pinckney
Madison, WI 53703

(608) 251-2700