Fish Type: Cod Price: $9.75
Overall, I would highly recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Excellent|
Potato Score: Good
Tartar Score: Excellent
Bread Score: Good
Miscellaneous Score: Good
Comment: The truly special Fish Frys stand out. While it isn’t always apparent exactly how they do it, the best just do, and when you eat one you just kind of know it. It’s really as simple as that.
Nothing more than a county crossroads, the tiny village of Utica boasts one of these truly special little Fish Frys. Mitch’s Utica bar is basically out in the middle of nowhere, and although it is close to the interstate, it isn’t close to any on-ramps. This insulated location helps keep the out-of-towners at bay, and ensure a strong following from the locals. For those of us not from the outer limits of Stoughton or Cambridge the tiny tavern is out of the way, and somewhere you probably wouldn’t go without a good reason. Luckily, for us there’s a great one.
For a mere $9.75 Mitch pitches out 4-piece cod dinners, complete with all the trimmings. Dinner in Utica is a pretty straight-forward affair, and it all starts with a stiff Old Fashioned or a cheap beer at the big old bar. As you enjoy your drink the seemingly omnipotent waitress will come out of nowhere to grab your order - only seating you in the “dining room” when it’s ready. Ours took a good 45 minutes to an hour, but that just gave us more time to have a couple drinks, inquire about the eggs in the beer cooler, and play the jukebox.
Once summoned, it took my eyes a second to adjust from the dimly-lit bar to the even more dimly-lit dining room, but when they did what they saw was awe inspiring. A full-stocked table awaited us, complete with steaming hot plates of fish, a huge bottle of tartar sauce, and a basket of warm rolls. We drank it in, and got to business.
I’m not sure the right term even exists to describe Mitch’s beer battered cod, so I’ll just go with scrumtrulescent. The fish was unbelievably light and flaky, and incredibly delicate. I plowed through the four small pieces with no problem and thought the 2-piece option they offer must have been a joke - I easily could have eaten two, if not ten more. The main reason the fish is so good is the beer batter, which has to be the thinnest beer batter out there. It is seasoned perfectly, and plays with the elegant cod rather than overpowering it. While every bite of fish was 100% pristine, it wasn’t 100% delicious thanks to the amazing batter. My god… scrumtrulescent.
Mitch’s cod can easily be eaten with or without tartar, but do yourself a favor and use it. The Utica tartar is superb and pairs perfectly with the fish. It has lotsa mayo, and just the right amount of relish, with no other BS to cloud the mix. It might sound boring and basic, but this is about as good as it gets when you’re talking tartar.
Continuing the gooey greatness is Mitch’s coleslaw. It’s rich and creamy, with just the zest you want in a slaw. The elongated white bread buns, offset the cool brew nicely, and are easily perked up by plenty of room temp butter.
If anything is lacking at the UB it’s the potato options. While there are a ton of spuds to choose from, they are all processed, and uninteresting. Since there were three of us we got to try a few varieties, of which, the French fries were by far the best. They were the thick-cut Julienne variety, and were well-fried and hearty. The “potato pancakes” our friend Sean got were just little pre-formed hash brown rounds (basically Potato Olés from Taco John’s), and come with packaged syrup, or apple sauce for $0.50 ea. (which probably isn’t worth the up-charge). The actual hash browns were also of the pre-formed variety, and were just like the rectangular patties that come in the big log from the grocery store. Like the rest, the hash browns were fine, but mostly thanks to the $0.50 cheese and onion upgrade.
The only detractor to our dining experience in Utica (other than the so-so spuds) was the dude at the table behind ours. While the last time we came we got to sit next to the funny dad who was celebrating his birthday with the family, this time we got Joe Asshole. This jerk was literally berating his wife about “eating like a cow” in front of the whole dining room. It was totally out of line and while it didn’t ruin our dinner altogether, it is something we won’t soon forget. What a dink.
Despite the dink, this was another great trip to Utica. If you’re willing to make the trek to the southeast you’ll be rewarded with one of area’s truly special little Fish Frys. Overall, we highly recommend this Fish Fry, and will have to make it a point to get to Utica more often – it’s more than worth the drive. And to answer their self-imposed question: “Where the hell is Utica Bar?” Fish Fry heaven, that’s where.
2167 County Road W
Cambridge, WI 53523