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Fish Type: Walleye     Price: $14.00

Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry is a Madison institution, this cannot be argued. The venerable establishment has been slinging burgers since well before my shadow ever shown on the capitol city and will likely be doing so long after I’m gone. While it still seems like they lost a little something when they were uprooted by the Overture Center way back when, they still draw them in like few others and grill some of the best beef this side of the Mississippi. You’ll never hear me knock their burgers, other than the fact they are on the pricey side, but after having their Fish Fry for a second time I can’t help but be unimpressed.

For starters, I realize it’s technically “Dotty Dumpling’s”, but everyone calls the place “Dotty’s” so I’m just going to go with that from here on out. Dotty’s Friday fish of choice is walleye and the basket runs fourteen big bucks. We were very early this Friday (as we so often are these days) and our fish flew out of the fryer. Unfortunately, it didn’t make its way to our table with the same haste as it clearly sat for a few which allowed it to soften and become slightly limp. The two small fillets (small for walleye) were home to a relatively light beer batter which was good but far from awe-inspiring. I say the batter was relatively light because BBs tend to get thick in a hurry and this stuff still had some flake to it. The fish itself was decent, but in all honesty I can’t be positive that it was actually walleye. The fillets were small, but not baby-pike small, and not big enough to be fully grown adults either. They were tweeners which made me think it might have been pike-perch or some other walleye-like species. Regardless, the overall flavor was good, just not top shelf and not very walleye-y.

As a burger joint you’d expect Dotty’s to know their way around a potato and their fries bear that out. While the skin-on spuds don’t appear to be cut in-house they are fried to perfection and generously portioned.

In my previous review I ragged on Dotty’s tartar for being ultra-dilly which really did the walleye no favors. This incarnation seemed to be less dilly than that in my memory and came in a mammoth cup – there is certainly no fear of running out. The brew had a good zip and complemented the fish well, and while the dill was dialed down in the sauce the quintet of pickles that came on the side more than made up for it. Wait, what’s that you say, a side of pickles? Yep, that’s right – a side of pickles. Weird, I know, but somehow charming.

Of course, there was no bread with the fish, which is all too common in this day and age, so all that was left was the slaw. The mix did its job as it was thick and creamy, and from what I can recall had a hint of horseradish or somethingerother that made it more interesting.

While I don’t want this to sound like a total condemnation of Dotty’s Fish Fry I just left feeling like something was still missing. Overall, we don’t recommend this Fish Fry and think that if you find yourself there on a Friday it’s probably best to just stick with the burgers. You can’t go wrong there.
317 Francis Street
Madison, WI 53703

(608) 259-0000