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Fish Type: Cod (AYCE)     Price: $10.75

Overall, I would barely recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: If there is one thing I wish my neighborhood had, it is a neighborhood bar. I would love to be able to walk up to the corner, grab a quick beer, and shoot the sh*t with my local bartender. There is nothing like the camaraderie of the neighborhood bar, and in Wisconsin, it is a well known fact that these kinds of places often offer the finest in Fish Fry. Alas, our neighborhood is very residential and extremely isolated making any visit to a bar a driving affair. It came to our attention that Paul’s Neighborhood Bar in Middleton was offering a fantastic all you can eat Fish Fry featuring both cod and ocean perch. Since I am always down for a good AYCE, I hopped the trolley with a few friends in tow and headed towards Mr. Paul’s Neighborhood.

We arrived at Paul’s shortly before 8pm and were coaxed into the bar by the aroma of fried fish. I have driven past the bar a number of times, but never really took notice of how large the establishment is. Upon entering I was slightly taken aback to see a spacious horseshoe bar, accompanied by a fairly large dining space. We pulled a couple stools out of the way and grabbed some drinks before hitting the dining room and finding a table. Our waitress came over a minute or two after everyone was seated and took our orders. Pretty much everyone went for the $10.75 AYCE Fish Fry, but varied on how many pieces of cod versus perch. I started with two of each, and chose French fries instead of baked potato or hash browns. She took our order to the kitchen and brought back some pretty tasty coleslaw and six pre-packed rolls. Everyone picked at their slaw and the surprisingly soft potato rolls, and within 20 minutes our fish arrived, hot, but not scalding.

I was plenty hungry so I dove right in and grabbed a piece of the cod. It had a light batter which didn’t have a lot of flavor, but was still good. The fish itself was flaky, but a little greasier than I expected it to be based on the light batter. The ocean perch was similar and also tasted good. As you would expect it was a little fishier tasting than the cod, but not much really. The fish had an exceptionally light texture and a similar, if not the same, batter as the cod. Overall both styles of fish were good, and I was well on my way to eating a good 6-7 pieces. Unfortunately it took a long time to get a refill which gave my food a chance to settle. By the time my final two pieces of cod came I could barely get one down, more or less both of them. I was a bit let down, but chalked it up to the fact that it was probably approaching 9pm and the waitress was ready to be done with it.

At an AYCE Fish Fry I have come to expect my fish to be accompanied by AYCE fries and a big squeeze bottle of tartar. The tartar was present as I expected, but the AYCE French fries were nowhere to be found. When I asked if more was an option I was denied instantly. I found it somewhat puzzling since I assume fish is more expensive than potatoes, and you figure they would want you to fill up on spuds rather than meat. Regardless, the initial portion of lukewarm crinkle cut fries was pretty small and gone well before I had my fill of fish. Thankfully the tartar was abundant and served the fish well allowing me to eat it even without the quickly depleted fries.

After sleeping on it I don’t know what to think about the Fish Fry at Paul’s Neighborhood Bar. I’m not sure if it is because we weren’t “regulars” or what, but they didn’t really seem to care about us being there. The food was certainly decent, but the service was a little lackluster. It took too long to get more fish and she never did change the awful telenovela that was inexplicably on instead of the Olympics. Overall, this was a decent Fish Fry, but certainly not the out of this world all AYCE I was hoping for. Between Mulligan’s earlier in the day and Paul’s for dinner it was kind of a disappointing Friday for Fish Fry. I am longing for classic Fish Fry next week.
2401 Parmenter Street
Middleton, WI 53562

(608) 827-7285