Fish Type: Lake Perch Price: $14.50
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: The Friday Night Fish Fry at the Villa Tap has become one of the toughest tickets in town. While the inconspicuous dive bar used to be a well-kept secret their fabulous fish has transformed them into a city-wide phenomenon, making a dinnertime Fish Fry a difficult proposition. For those not wanting to fight the crowds (or take the chance on the perch and walleye being sold out) The Tap does fish for lunch, although at $14.50 it’s not exactly an economical noon hour nibble.
That’s right, you heard that correctly. Due to immense popularity the Villa has bumped the price of their perch up to fourteen dollars and fifty cents. That’s a full $2 more than the previous price, and although I did feel some sticker shock, I went with it because, what am I gonna do? Go somewhere else? Yeah right...
Other than a pint of Spotted Cow the first thing to hit the bar in front of me was some slaw and a dinner roll. The roll was the same-old-same-old (complete with a pat of fridge-fresh butter), but the slaw was something better. The creamy blend was really tasty and very colorful. It had plenty of pop and a pretty diverse flavor for coleslaw.
Not long after I polished off the sassy slaw and basic bun the fish showed its face. As per usual, the plate featured five fat perch, some freezer fries, a cup of tartar, and a fresh chunk of lemon (for those who swing that way). It looked just right, so I wasted no time and popped the lid on the tartar, grabbed a fillet, and went to town.
The meaty perch was, as expected, outstanding. The moist fillets were enrobed in the Villa’s benevolent breading which was perfectly spiced. The coating boasted plenty of seasoning, but was neither too salty, nor too wimpy. It had a nice consistency and a slight crispiness that contrasted well with the succulent fish.
For $14.50 you’d like to see a little more effort put forth in the potato department, but Chico has his feet firmly planted in the baked/French realm. While the fries are good (baked not available at lunch), I didn’t get many of them, and even those were slightly over-fried. In general, they are some of the better freezer fries out there, but with such a hefty price tag they don’t make you feel like you’re getting you monies worth.
The tartar comes in one of the small Solo cups, and while the fish didn’t need it, I still used every last drop. The sultry sauce is creamy and hearty, and has enough zip to stand up to the flavorful fish. It really is an enchanting blend, but like the fries, maybe I could get an extra dollop or two?
You know Madison Fish Fry loves the Villa Tap and we’ve been one of the biggest supporters of their Fish Fry, but things might be getting out of hand here. While we always had a few reservations about dropping $12.50 on a plate of their perch, we have even more at $14.50. Sure, we have paid more for fish, but that’s usually an All You Can Eat, an All You Should Eat, or something else where the portions are huge or the establishment justifies it. Don’t get me wrong, the Villa is a fun little bar and the fish is still great, but we’ll definitely have to think twice before just popping in now that we’ll need to drop a cool $20 for a beer and some grub. Overall, we still highly recommend this Fish Fry, but think it might be getting too big for its britches.
2302 Packers Avenue
Madison, WI 53704