Restaurants | Rankings | Reviews | How We Rank | Links

Fish Type: Cod     Price: $12.00

Overall, I would barely recommend this Fish Fry.

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

Share |

Comment: Cajun Fish Fry, you ask? Well, not really. More like a classic Wisconsin Fish Fry with a few subtle twists. The twists, you ask? Acceptable.

We’d never been to the Bayou (at least I hadn’t, I’m not so sure about Gabe), but when we showed up it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. It really does look kind of like Bourbon Street (although I’ve never been there either, so again, can’t be sure), featuring a big balcony overlooking a street-like dining room floor. Strangely, there were only a few tables on the street level, with what appeared to be a handful more on the *CLOSED* balcony. Oddly, only one other table was occupied at 7pm on a Friday, so we essentially had our pick of the litter, and took one of the high-tops near the fruit machines. The lone bartender came over soon after and grabbed us a beer, of which they only have the New Orleans brewed Abita beer (needless to say, this is not the bar for the beer aficionado among us).

Prior to the fish Gabe and I treated ourselves to an order of Bayou curds which were quite tasty and highlighted by a spicy Cajun-style batter. I’d heard they were impressive (possibly the best in Madison, even), and while I’d agree they were appetizing, I’m not sure I’d call them the best.

The fish was ready about 15 minutes after our orders went in and was hot, but not scalding upon its arrival. The four pieces of cod featured a similar breading to the curds which was above average, a little spicy and not too thick. The extra hint of spice was nice since the fish appeared to not be the highest quality. Regardless, the overall taste combination was borderline excellent and not a crumb remained when we were through. The ‘You also has Tilapia available on Friday, but I’ll be damned if I’m wasting my time on that - I’ve had fried Tilapia before, and it felt like I was eating someone’s goldfish. I’ll pass.

While the individual pieces of cod were not huge, it added up to a fair amount of fish. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the fries, as I could count their numbers just as easily. I kid you not, there were maybe 10 of the house-cut ‘taters total. It was a miniscule portion, and what’s more, they were under-fried and limp. It was too bad really since the few I did get were very enjoyable, and had they come in a larger quantity and been fried longer, could have flirted with excellence.

Also letting us down was the Bayou’s take on tartar sauce. The presumably homemade blend tasted suspiciously Kraft-y, but boasted more dill that the commercial king. It overpowered the fish, which is really saying something since the fish had quite a presence on its own.

You might expect a Cajun place to take a stab at a unique coleslaw (I mean, if there is any lee-way to experiment with Fish Fry it is the slaw, right?), but surprisingly the slaw on Butler didn’t have any sort of zip. It was inoffensive, but I guess, I was just expecting something different. In addition, there was an odd salad-like thing on the side of the plate. What made it odd? Well, it was too big to be a garnish, but too small to be a salad, and there was no dressing to boot. Odd.

As you might expect, the Bayou’s bread of choice was a slice off a French loaf which while tiny, was nicely toasted and tasted very good.

Things tend to be a little wacky down in Cajun country and I’d have to say the trend has made its way north. While this Fish Fry was a bit of a departure from the norm, the tweaks they made were acceptable. We always enjoy a little spice in our batter, and to this end, the Bayou obliges. While they didn’t take opportunity to Cajun-up everything , what they did do was unique and tasty. Overall, we barely recommend this Fish Fry and will probably come back if we’re downtown and don’t feel like waiting for a table forever at somewhere like The Coopers Tavern or The Old Fashioned.
117 S. Butler Street
Madison, WI 53703

(608) 294-9404