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Fish Type: Cod     Price: $8.00

Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: A couple weeks ago the Gabster and I hit up The Bayou and afterwards we figured we’d head to The Square for a few additional libations. As we passed The Argus we happened upon the all new Rigby Pub & Grill and something drew us inside. Immediately we were back in the U.S.S.R., entrenched in The Rigby’s classic rock theme, centered on what may be the greatest group of them all, The Beatles. Since it was pretty busy we felt fortunate to get a couple stools at the bar, or so we thought.

The bartender’s minds were somewhere across the universe, and they seemed to look right through us. We wound up sitting there for a good five minutes with no reply from either of them. Eventually we just got up and left, and drove our car down to more hospitable surroundings. It made for a strange day in our lives and we left perturbed at the lack of help, but all was not lost since I knew we’d be back for the $8 Fish Fry special (advertised on the board out front) soon enough.

My girl and I had a ticket to fry this Friday and arrived at The Rigby around 7pm. We headed upstairs since that is where I figured the main dining area was based on our previous visit (and their sign indicating such). While the main floor is mostly filled by the large bar, the upstairs is more wide open and has a pool table, a dart board and about 6-8 dining tables. It looked fairly neat and tidy, but since it was so far removed from the main bar it became a strange free-for-all, as groups of people started moving tables nearer the TV to watch the impending Brewers game, creating disarray in the absence of an omnipresent wait staff. It was kind of weird, but eventually the lone waitress made her way upstairs, assumed some control, found our table (placed where it was when we got there), and took our orders. As soon as she left, mob rule once again took hold, and the volume on the TV went up and up - the sound of cracked bats and Tim McCarver filling the room.

The 2-piece cod came about 20 minutes after she put in our orders and seemed to be of good quality, but clearly sat for a bit before being delivered. Sitting is never good for fried food and I could almost hear my Fish Fry gently weeping. While the fish had a good flavor, the beer batter was soggy on the underside as it took the brunt of the grease during it delay. The actual fish was still somewhat flaky despite the saturation, but since the batter could not be handled I resigned myself to using the dreaded fork. While I worked it out, it was not a warm gun by any means.

The fish let me down by not being scalding hot, but the hash browns with cheese and onion were so hot I had to get back. The portion was surprisingly large and the cheesy spuds were delicious so I’ll likely return for them when I’m 64, if not sooner.

The hash browns were great and I have to admit that even though the fish wasn’t perfect the meal was getting better. Unfortunately, our waitress forgot the tartar sauce which added to this hard day’s night. By the time she made it back upstairs with it, one of my two pieces was long, long, long gone so I only got the full fish/tartar experience with the remaining piece. I assume the sauce was homemade as it appeared to have a McCormick mayo base (very rare to see), and some dill. While it was decent and made the greasier parts of the cod edible, this the bird can’t sing.

As your mother should know a Fish Fry just isn’t a Fish Fry without some sort of bread, and The Rigby doesn’t pass it by. The stand-alone white roll was sliced in half and accompanied by a pat of room temperature butter. It was nice and soft, and fairly fresh, like a little side of warm honey pie.

Last but not least, came the slaw, and I said: It’s alright. The homemade brew came in a large cup, and was as creamy as a savoy truffle, but not really zesty. However, it carried that weight adequately, and did what it needed to do.

While the food was good, and probably recommendable on its own, the service was a huge let down, and our waitress definitely could have used a little help from her friends. The Rigby is seriously lacking organization, and even though the kitchen seems to be doing a great job, the front of the house is not here, there, and everywhere. In fact, when it came time to pay, our waitress never came to get her money so we just took it down, and dropped it at the bar on our way out the door. In the end the speed of the service was a problem as the freshness of the fish suffered due to the slowness. It seems that all they need to do is hire more wait staff, one for the main floor and one for the upper floor, and things would go much more smoothly. Maybe I’m wrong on that one, but I’ve got a feeling that is the smoking gun.

After Gabe and I’s experience I really should have known better, but MFF is a bit of a glutton for punishment, and just can’t let it be. The Rigby is a cool place and we really do dig it, but until the whole service thing gets squared away we likely won’t be back. It is too bad though, since the Fish Fry has a lot of potential. Overall, we can’t recommend this Fish Fry based on this visit as the service and general lack of organization ruined the meal and caused the fish to suffer. It is a bit of a magical mystery, but a hole that Eleanor should be able to fix. And if she can’t… Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, life does go on…
119 E. Main Street
Madison, WI 53703

(608) 442-1112