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Fish Type: Bluegill     Price: $11.45

Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: This is one of those Fish Frys that I want to like. I want to like the place, I want to like the service, and I want to like the food, but I guess some things just aren’t meant to be. I don’t know what it is about the South Bay, but it just doesn’t seem to work for me no matter how much I’d like it to.

I want to like the place. Truth be told, I actually think it’s a pretty nice place, although the parking lot is always packed and the cars in it never seem to move. The adjacent street serves as overflow, but it can barely handle the volume. The place itself feels more like a diner than a bar, but it’s pretty clean and well-lit so I at least feel like in going to leave unscathed. I also seem to have a habit of arriving at high-tide which perhaps gives the illusion that the place is much busier than it actually is.

I want to like the service. Even though it was busy I got a spot at the bar after being directed to it by the friendly waitress – it would become my cell. It took me a good five minutes but I eventually managed to hail Dave down from my corner roost and put in my order for fish. I know he took the order at that time, but I’ll be damned if I know what he did with it.

I really want to like the service. As I waited for my fish I had a beer (Dave was good about re-filling those), and another, and another. Eventually it had been about 40 minutes, the crowd was thinning out, and the cooks were starting to clean things up since they didn’t have any orders coming in. At this point Dave came back and asked what I had ordered. I was clearly forgotten, and while I saw them scramble to get it ready it took a total of 45 minutes before I had my fish. I was starving.

I want to like the food. Everything on the South Bay’s Friday Fish list is beer battered. Yes, EVRYTHING. While beer batter works well on cod or haddock, it just isn’t the same on the freshwater fin-sters, and the flavor of the thick batters masks the subtleties of the delicate fish. Last trip I had cod, and it worked fine, this time I tried the bluegill, annnnnd… not so much. The batter dominated the mild fish to the point where you couldn’t even taste the flaky meat. The batter also had a smoky taste which led me to believe the fryer grease was none too fresh.

I really want to like the food. Besides the fish, everything else was a little quirky too. The fries (they were battered if you couldn’t guess) were plentiful, but had the same burned taste as the fish. The slaw was tasty, but soupy on the bottom, and there was no bread - which I take issue with. The only item that wasn’t weird was the thick tartar which mercifully masked some of the imperfections in the fish.

In a vacuum this Fish Fry might be recommendable. In reality, this wasn’t a favorable experience. While the food itself was fine, it wasn’t good enough to overshadow everything else and at this point I doubt I’ll be back. In the end, no one cared whether I was there or not, least of all me.
5404 Raywood Road
Madison, WI 53713

(608) 222-6382