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Fish Type: Cod     Price: $11.75

Overall, I would recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: To say I was wary of Beck’s Bar on Highway 51 between McFarland and Stoughton would be an understatement. Not only was the bar incredibly tiny, but it looked skeezy, and had a bad reputation. I skipped their Fish Fry for years until the place finally closed down in mid-2013. Not long after it reopened as Patrick’s Grill with a new owner and a new menu.

Patrick’s claim to fame is BBQ, but when they recently won a local Fish Fry poll I sat up and took notice. A place this fresh, winning best Fish Fry in Madison? Balderdash! I said, and knew I needed to eat it to believe it. I waited a few weeks for any buzz to die down and finally paid them a visit on March, 21st. I didn’t show up until 8pm only to find the place incredibly dead. I was a little surprised.

Since it was quiet there were plenty of stools to choose from and I had an $11.75 3-piece in front of me about 10 minutes later (there is also a $10.00 2-piece on special). The Fish Fry comes in two baskets: one with the fish, fries, and tartar, and another with beans, corn bread and slaw – not exactly a balance of power but a thoughtful split nonetheless.

As I so often do I started in with the fish, and liked what it had to offer. The flaky cod featured a very light, crumbly breading, that had a nice texture, but lacked seasoning and didn’t hold the meat together. Thus, rather than dip the averaged-sized pieces as a whole I had to pull them apart in chunks and go at it that way. The fish itself was of good quality, but a couple parts were bordering on translucence although it didn’t seem to affect taste. Overall, it was a good, solid, inoffensive cod, but even with three pieces the portion was on the small side.

Some shoestring style fries shared the fish’s basket and were kinda like McDonald’s fries. They were golden and crispy, and came in good numbers although there were a few odd balls among the ranks.

The last piece in basket #1’s puzzle was a standard Solo cup of tartar. It was a thick and zesty mix, and its heart was in the right spot, but even it couldn’t fully push the fish over the top.

Basket #2 was full of sides, all of which allude to Patrick’s affinity for BBQ. I started with the creamy coleslaw which was a basic blend, didn’t appear to be homemade, and was nothing unique. The cornbread came next and while it probably goes great with some brisket the petite cube missed the mark here as it was a little dry and flavorless. On the other hand, the baked beans were superb and easily the highlight of the meal. They had a marvelous smoky flavor and even some pieces of real brisket mixed in. While beans don’t come standard with most Fish Frys I was certainly glad Patrick’s threw them in and I definitely would have eaten a bunch more of those babies.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Patrick’s is a huge step up from its predecessor even though I never actually visited Beck’s back in the day. While I wouldn’t say this Fish Fry is the best in the Madison area (I’d put it in the same tier as places like Wilson’s – a strong B/B+) it does have a lot going for it. Overall, we recommend this Fish Fry, and definitely want to come back for the brisket and some more of those baked beans someday.
2515 Highway 51
McFarland, WI 53558

(608) 838-7190