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Fish Type: Cod (AYCE)     Price: $12.00

Overall, I would recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: Fish Fry a Go Go the flyer said. What on god’s green earth could all this be about, we wondered. Like any good Wisconsinite, the Fish Fry part made perfect sense to us, what was peculiar was the “a Go Go” ending. What could this possibly have to do with the majesty that is the Fish Fry? Sure, we have heard of dinner and dancing, but a Fish Fry and a band? Now that is an intriguing concept. Needless to say, we a Went Went to The East Side Club to see what this a Go Go was all about.

Upon pulling into the lot at the former East Side Businessmen’s Association it was instantly apparent that Jer, Grahm, and I would be looking elsewhere for parking on this most hectic of Friday nights. Luckily for our hungry trio, we found a spot directly across the street, put the car in park, and wasted no time leapfrogging a bustling Monona Drive bound for the buffet beyond. We procured a spot in the line, put our name on the list, paid our dues, and proceeded to the bar to enjoy libations and await our party’s placement in the parlor. We briefly discussed the Packer’s prospects for the upcoming weekend and within 10 minutes our table was prepared. We set our beers down and made our way to the buffet to conjure up some cod and pounce on the provided perch.

As we made our way through the line I tried to stay focused and not veer too much form the Fish Fry staples, although I was tempted by the broasted chicken, numerous casseroles, and side dishes. I eventually gave in to the spaghetti, taking a tiny portion along with my bounty of French fries, but somehow mustered up the will power to resist the soup and salad bar. Eventually we found ourselves at the end of the line and noticed the cod had run dry. Fear not, more was soon delivered, and all the better for us since it was fresh from the kitchen and as hot as can be. We loaded up and scurried back to the table to see what was what.

The cod at the ESC comes in miniscule pieces, but if you take enough of them they add up. I grabbed a good 6-7 of the small segments and was glad I did. They were simply scrumptious, sporting a splendid breading with a sensuous amount of spice. I quickly polished off all of my nuggets with the help of my own personal massive cup of tartar. In actuality, the tartar was not tremendous, and didn’t improve the cod, but was enough to do the job. It was a little heavy on the relish which dominated the mayo underlayment as well as the dollop of dill present. The overall taste sensation of cod and tartar was still above average, but the cod pulled most of that weight.

After polishing off plateful #1 we proceeded to the buffet yet again, this time in search of perch. My second plateful was adorned with just as many of the battered crinkle cut fries and nearly as much perch as cod came along on the first trip. The perch was actually pretty decent, but could not hold a candle to the cod. It was a little fishier (as one would expect) but whatever the breading was, it was nowhere near as well done as the cod was. In fact, Grahmer didn’t like it one bit and made this fact known.

With a plateful of each in me, I decided that my third and final portion had to be cod. While I didn’t go full-bore, I did manage to wrangle up another four or so chunks and another handful of the crispy, and surprisingly tasty, fries. Due to the fact that I gorged myself on fried goods I totally overlooked the basket of rolls and the coleslaw on the salad bar, somewhat purposefully, but also somewhat regretfully. Jer did manage to dip into the slaw and found it to be really good, so we will take his word for it - he has been there and done that.

When all was said and done we grabbed some cookies and rice crispy bars off the dessert cart and made our way to the tiki bar to see what the a Go Go was all about. It turned out that it was a basically a lounge act, fronted by a wig wearing, glitzed-out geriatric and her band of misfits. It was somewhat interesting to see, although the music left a little something to be desired. We grabbed a beverage, tried to avoid a couple of belligerent drunk dudes, and listened to their last few tunes. They wrapped up at 8:30 and with that we bid the East Side Club adieu. It was a bit of a weird end to what was actually a pretty tasty Fish Fry.

I would say we had a good time at the East Side Club and all left in high spirits. The buffet was certainly plentiful and well worth the $12, especially if you are packin’ a big appetite. While the food was not outstanding, it was certainly good enough and there are plenty of options to choose from, even if you don’t like fish (gasp). Overall, I would definitely recommend the Friday Fish Fry buffet at the East Side Club, although I could certainly have gone without the a Go Go part. In the end it worked for them though, it piqued our interest and got us in the door, and I have to assume we weren’t the only ones.

If you are in the mood for Fish Fry and want to make sure you get filled up, try the East Side Club. If you are in the mood for cheesy lounge acts, they have you covered there as well. I guess you could say The East Side Club covers their bases, whatever those bases happen to be.
3735 Monona Drive
Madison, WI 53714

(608) 222-9131