Fish Type: Bluegill Price: $11.00
Overall, I would highly recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Excellent|
French Fry Score: Good
Tartar Score: Excellent
Bread Score: Good
Miscellaneous Score: Good
Comment: Toby’s Supper Club has been a favorite of ours for a while now. Not only is it one of the only true supper clubs in Madison, but its Fish Fry has historically been one of the best values around. All of the fish options hover around the $10 mark and come with the standard trimmings in addition to a few little extras. When we recently heard rumors that the Fish Fry institution was slipping we scoffed at the thought and vowed to disprove them as soon as possible. Unfortunately, we couldn’t.
We showed up for lunch with a huge group (at least huge for tiny Toby’s). We were eight adults (and a few kids) deep which took up a good chunk of one of the dining rooms, but since it was lunch there was no one else in it anyway so it wasn’t really a problem. Eventually we got enough tables and chairs cobbled together and the waitress made her way over to get us some drinks and relay the lunch specials.
She eventually came back with the beverages and took our orders. There was a lot of freshwater fish on her notepad when all was said and done, with bluegill and hash browns comprising our line item. Like the drinks, the fish took a while to fry which was a bit surprising considering Toby’s usually pumps it out like none other. When it came our way it was still hot, but not steaming like it has been literally every other time we’ve been there.
The bluegill in the basket looked wimpy compared to what we’re used to as there were only 6 or so fillets. We’ve become accustomed to 9 or more of the diminutive divers dotting the checkerboard and to see so few was a bit of a shock. What’s more, a couple of them looked and tasted more like perch than bluegill which definitely got out Spidey Senses tingling. As for the fish, it was good, but the breading lacked the signature seasoning we hold so dear.
Since multiple people ordered hash browns with cheese and onion they came on shared plates, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing except that they seemed rushed. The edges weren’t crispy, and the slices of American cheese on top weren’t close to melted which left the flavors eerily separated instead of happily married.
Thankfully, the tartar was the good stuff and perked up the under-seasoned fish. The coleslaw was a mixed bag as one cup lacked the signature sweetness of Toby’s homemade mix, while a different one delivered the goods. We suspect one scoop came from the top while the more flavorful one was from the bottom where is had a chance to soak in the goods
Finishing thing off was a piece of French bread that was more boring the benevolent. It would have ended the Fry with a real thud if not for the personal servings of Schoep’s ice cream which everyone agreed helped Toby’s save some face.
We’re not really sure what’s going on, but everything seems to have taken a little step back. While Toby’s is still better than most of the other Fish Frys out there what we had this time around wasn’t as great as we’ve come to expect. It’s really a shame as this marks our first less-than-amazing experience at Toby’s, and takes a little bit of the polish off the apple. Overall, we still highly recommend this Fish Fry, but can’t just default to it when asked: “What is the best Fish Fry in Madison” anymore.
3717 S Dutch Mill Road
Madison, WI 53718