Fish Type: Cod Price: $10.00
Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Fair|
Potato Score: Excellent
Tartar Score: Fair
Bread Score: Fair
Miscellaneous Score: Excellent
Comment: There are those of us who fear change, and nowhere is this more evident than at the Friday Fish Fry. What's that, you say? FFF? That's nuts... But it's true. Changes in ownership, changes in cooks, changes in distributors, changes in philosophy, and even changes in wait staff can have dramatic impacts on the quality and consistency of a Fish Fry. Of course, change can be a good thing too (see our most recent review of the Whippoorwill Tavern), but a recent change in ownership has altered the Fish Fry at Utica Bar, and not for the better I'm afraid to say. When it was Mitch's Utica Bar the Fish Fry was quietly on of the best Satellite Frys out there. It was well worth leaving mother Madison and venturing into orbit for, but sadly with Mitch's blasting off his recipe and his fish frying technique went with him. What's left is decent, but just not the same.
The fish out in Utica is still cheap ($10 for a 3-piece with extras for $1.50 each), but a shell of its former self. There are also shrimp and clams available on the menu so if you're feeling frisky there is some diversity there. It was pretty busy this Friday and took the lone waitress a bit to find us milling around the bar and grab our order (they do it Toby's style here - you hit the bar first, the waitress finds you there, you place your order with her, then you're seated when there's a spot open and food is ready). It took all of 90 minutes to get to our table which left plenty of time for cheap Old Styles and Rum Chata shots with said waitress, Elisa (it was her birthday - she was lovely). As soon as we sat down I could tell things were different. The plate looked pretty boring. The pieces of cod were relatively small (maybe a couple ounces each), and not of the highest quality. They were home to a leathery batter that had no seasoning to speak of. While I was hungry enough to eat all four pieces it wasn't because they we great, but more because I'm used to eating much earlier these days.
Several spud choices populate the concise menu, but all three in our party went for the "funeral potatoes" based on Elisa's recommendation. Of the four options (fries, baked, and potato pancakes among them), these hash browns are the only truly homemade one and reside in a fryer-side Nesco roaster. They are clearly made by hand, with plenty of cheese mixed in. The gooey goodness saturated our souls and made up for the middling fish to some extent. Being finger-fed bites of them by the Elisa's mother beforehand is another story...
Solo cups of tartar sat to the side and I got two of the skunky sauces with my 4-piece. The mix was thick, but the relish contingent was prominent, and stuck out a little too much in my opinion. The cup 'o slaw was the next size up and fine, but little else. Strangely, there was only one roll in the basket for our table making it feel misplaced, or more than likely, Elisa just grabbed the wrong basket from the kitchen. Either way it was just a plain roll, and I'm sure we could have had more if we'd wanted.
While this may all sound negative plenty of positive changes have come with the new ownership at UB as well - the wait staff and bartenders seem more friendly and outgoing, and they have a nice new outdoor patio area. The Fish Fry has taken a serious downturn however. Overall, we don't recommend this Fish Fry, and are holding out hope they can turn it back around. Maybe they need to pick Mitch's brain, or bring him back as a guest chef of Fridays? It's also worth noting that Utica Bar is still cash only, but they do have and ATM if you're forgetful.
2167 County Road W
Cambridge, WI 53523