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Fish Type: Bluegill     Price: $18.00

Overall, I would barely recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: A great Fish Fry starts with great fish, but that’s not necessarily where it ends. Some places have great fish and do so at a reasonable price, while other places have great fish but charge $17, $18, $19, or even more for it. Clearly the places that offer the good stuff at a good price have a leg up on the competition, and that’s where they separate from places like Oliver’s Public House.

Just so we’re clear, the Fish Fry at Oliver’s is really good, but at $18 is one of the most expensive out there. The fish of record is beer battered bluegill, but make sure to give ‘em a call or check facebook ahead of time because it’s not available every Friday. Oliver’s is in a nice new building, but even that couldn’t keep us away from the spacious patio this gorgeous Friday.

The attentive waitress came over in a jiff and had a plate of home baked focaccia in in front of us not long after. The bread was airy and crusty, and when paired with the salted sweet butter started this Fish Fry off on the right foot. The fish followed about five minutes after the bread was gobbled up and looked kinda fancy.

It was hard to tell exactly how many fillets were on the plate as they were strangely prepared. While they looked like butterflies they were eerily thin and perhaps just single fillets that were sliced down the middle. I really can’t be sure, but either way they tasted quite nice. The beer batter was light and flavorful and didn’t overwhelm the waifish fish. Not a hint of grease was present and the fish was clearly high quality.

Oliver’s is pretty swanky and instead of French fries some American blue potatoes fill the role. They supported the fish admirably with subtle seasoning and while they were supple they didn’t blow me away. In a word they were solid.

While capers have the ability to ruin a tartar sauce, the homemade lemon-caper aioli (A.K.A. fancy tartar) was superb. It was zesty and rich with just a subtle hint of lemon and nominal capers. Its understated sweetness melded well with the delicate fish making it slightly more enjoyable.

The homemade buttermilk slaw was also outstanding. It was fresh and flavorful and while it was light on the cream it was heavy on the flavor. It was easily some of the best I can remember.

When most people think about a Fish Fry they think it will be cod will cost ten bucks or so. Any reasonable person knows that bluegill will be a few bucks more and most are happy to pay it. When any Fish Fry starts pushing $20 most are going to shy away and that is something we have to take into consideration when we rank Oilver’s. While this Fish Fry was really tasty, and clearly prepared with care, we can’t look past the fact that others cost far less and are almost, if not equally tasty. Overall, we still recommend this Fish Fry, but have to dial down the enthusiasm to some extent since it’s so pricey.
2540 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53705

(608) 819-8555