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Fish Type: Cod (AYCE)     Price: $15.00

Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times??? I’m not sure exactly what goes in here, but it must be a super-duper shame on me of some sort, and boy… do we deserve it.

Truth be told, I should really have known better, but I have a soft spot for the old Alma Matter. What can I say? I really want the UW to represent Fish Fry the right way, and have given them the benefit of the doubt time and time again, but the fact of the matter is that they just don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to the holiest of Wisconsin traditions.

To be honest, I didn’t expect much from the Rathskellar or the Mendota Grill, but I figured when Alumni weekend was at stake, the U-dub would do what it needed to do to impress its graduates (and donors, mind you); their “Wisconsin Fish Fry” (which was supposed to be a celebration of Wisconsin culture on the UW campus) certainly did not excite anyone. The food was served buffet style with four individual buffet setups (making for 8 possible lines). The event definitely didn’t sell out, and not one tables had anything remotely close to resembling an actual line. It was definite overkill, and caused the fish to sit in their steam tray environs for far too long. As such, the pre-battered cod was limp, mushy, and seemingly the exact same stuff we have come to expect at the student dining halls. The flake-less fish was suffocated by a batter coffin and was edible, but more in a McFish kind of way, rather than an “I’m really enjoying this” kind of way.

Since the fried cod was nothing to write home about I gave the baked a shot as well. The bland, dry cuts were not much better, and basically flavorless when push came to shove. There was none of the customary drawn butter or lemon to go on it, presumably because it was all used on the Parslied Potatoes which were drowned in lemon flavor, and served as the substitute for our beloved French fries. The citrus blast overpowered the baby reds, and no matter how “parslied” they were, the sprig’s charge was futile when put up against it lemony adversary.

Pairing with the uninspired fish was a strange, almost-KFC style, tartar sauce. The sauce appeared to be mass produced, but somehow still made the fish a little tastier. Jer actually claimed to outright enjoy the bizarre blend, but I personally wouldn’t go quite that far as it was just a little too odd (and too processed) for my tastes.

A coleslaw offering lacked zest, but was a creamy, inoffensive blend. While it wasn’t the greatest ever, it kept you coming back for more, kind of like a PBR. Two different kinds of buns rounded out the Fish Fry portion of the buffet and were also just fine. A light rye played the traditional roll’s roll, and was a little better than its white counterpart which was more of a ho-hum offering meant to please the kids should they have attended with mom and dad.

For your $15 the buffet was stocked with more than the standard Fish Fry fare, giving the vegetarians a few options and the fish eaters a respite from the subpar seafood. The mixed spring vegetables, and squash risotto, weren’t much to crow at however, and while they were a bonus, it was like getting a company ham at Christmas.

Overall, there is no way we can recommend this Fish Fry, and we’re inclined more than ever to say that we won’t get fooled by the UW again. Damn you, Bucky! Why can’t you just do Fish Fry right? Your attempts are half-hearted, and seem like nothing more than a ploy to make a few extra bucks for some new football jerseys. The only silver lining (if there was one) was that we supported our Alma Mater and got to check out the new Union South, but when it comes to the Fish Fry, school pride alone isn’t enough to erase the bad taste left in our mouths.
1308 West Dayton Street
Madison, WI 53703

(608) 265.3000