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Fish Type: Lake Perch     Price: $12.00

Overall, I would barely recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: We’ve never claimed to know it all. In fact, we’d say anyone who’d make such a claim is a dirty, dirty liar. We do know a few things however, especially when it comes to Fish Fry. We know the best batters are light and flaky. We know that coleslaw and tartar are better when they’re homemade. We know that house-cut fries are better than the ones that come from the freezer. And we know that if a place says they have lake perch it damn well better be yellow perch and not some other crazy variety they’re trying to pass off as the real deal. And that’s a fact.

The last time we visited the Baldwin Street Grille they had real yellow perch and it was outstanding. While the portion was small, the quality was excellent and we enjoyed every single morsel. When we returned this time we assumed the perch listed on the menu as lake perch would be the same stuff. Seems logical, right? Sometimes logic escapes us…

The “lake perch” that came this time around was one massive fillet that looked very much like walleye. When the walleye theory was put forth to the waitress she assured us that it was perch, but a different variety than the expected yellow perch – supposedly from New Zealand (a little post-dinner digging led us to the European Perch which is present in New Zealand and most likely what they were passing off as lake perch). We couldn’t help but feel a little duped. Regardless, the “perch” tasted decent although it was pretty plain. There was very little flavor present in the fish or the breading which, unfortunately was made up for with a number of bones we had to pick from our teeth. Overall, it was very average fish and certainly not the yellow perch we were craving.

A side of fries came buried under the large fillet and were barely visible. They were skin-on, julienne cuts with plenty of salt, but since the fillet covered them up we had to peck around the edges to get at them initially. Once they were exposed they went down in bunches as they were well-fried and quite delicious.

A couple tiny, cube-shaped ramekins occupied the center of the plate and were filled with coleslaw and tartar. While the portion of slaw was small, the taste was large and in charge. It was rich and creamy with a pleasant buttermilk-y flavor. On the other hand, the tartar was just okay. It was nontraditional and thin with a ranch-like consistency. There were a few little clumps in it which alluded to something more, but any sort of punch never arrived.

Rounding out the Fry was a fat half-slice of marble rye that was soft and tasty. It was a welcome addition as it added the pop the rest of the items were lacking.

As Wisconsinites and a Fish Fry fans we expect a few things on Friday night. We expect to wait in line if we get to a Fish Fry hotspot at 7pm. We also expect to drink a beer or two while we wait. We fully expect that anywhere that has a Fish Fry will have some form of cod. And (maybe most importantly) we expect anything sold as “lake perch” to be the genuine yellow perch we all love so dearly. Overall, we still recommend this Fish Fry, but are definitely torn be the imposter perch. While it was fine, it certainly wasn’t what we were expecting from the Baldwin Street Grille.
1304 East Washington Avenue
Madison, WI 53704

(608) 442-8400