Fish Type: Lake Perch Price: $12.00
Overall, I would barely recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Good
Potato Score: Good
Tartar Score: Good
Bread Score: Excellent
Miscellaneous Score: Good
Comment: Whether you like it or not Madison has a vibrant "foodie" scene. While I wouldn't consider myself a foodie per se, many people assume that because I write these reviews I must be part of that culture. I'm really not, and when I got a message asking if I'd like to attend a foodie meet up I was like, no thanks...that was until I realized they were doing a Fish Fry at the Sconnie Bar. I'd wanted to revisit Sconnie despite have a crummy Fish Fry there previously, and figured this was as good of an opportunity as any give them their second chance.
Sconnie has cod and lake perch on Fridays and despite having reservations about ordering the (cheap) $13 perch, I pulled the trigger when the waiter told me it was indeed five pieces (I feared a 2-piece zander for that price). It was a gamble, but it essentially paid off when the cards were down. The perch looked like the real deal, although the fillets were as itty bitty as any I've ever seen. What's more, they didn't have the signature lake perch flavor I've come to expect, but did have a light breading, although it too was also a bit drab. It was at least grease-free and easy to eat so I'll chalk it up as a win. As far as the yellow perch/zander debate goes I've heard that places are dolling up smaller zander fillets to more closely mimic the real lake perch and while I can't say whether or not Sconnie is using those tricks might explain the size and flavor of these ones...TBC
The standard side served with the FF is chips (which is weird), so we upgraded to the fries and it was totally worth it. The thick julienne cuts were pretty plain, but there was still plenty to like about them. I mean, they are French fries, even bad ones are still good compared to most things.
Being that the perch was pretty bland it needed a punch from a tough tartar and that's just what the Sconnie sauce delivered. It was thick and brought the bang that gave the perch that little bit of extra pizazz it was lacking. An interesting looking slaw came along for the ride and had a taste to match its appearance. It was a strange creamy/vinegar hybrid with horseradish and what appeared to be paprika on it. It was alluring and definitely added a new dimension to the meal.
This Fish Fry was teetering on the borderline (and may have come up short), but a slice of real rye assured that it made the grade. More and more places are phasing out the bread altogether it's relieving to see a bar not just keeping it, but going with the most traditional starch of all.
I have to say were it not for the foodie meet and greet I might not have given Sconnie another chance, but it turns out I'm glad I did. They have definitely stepped their game up, and given us a new outlook on an old Fish Fry. In addition, we got to meet some nice folks, have some interesting discussions with a real chef in town, and do what we love to do. Overall, we recommend this Fish Fry and think it would meet most peoples expectations...including the foodies among us.
1421 Regent Street
Madison, WI 53711