Fish Type: Walleye Price: $7.25
Overall, I would barely recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Good|
Potato Score: Good
Tartar Score: Good
Bread Score: Poor
Miscellaneous Score: Good
Comment: We got into the Fish Fry reviewing game innocently enough about six years ago. Back then there was very little available in the way of reliable Fish Fry information. We got the idea to start capturing as much info as we could since we were eating these Fish Frys anyway. Eventually we figured we should put it on the web since we assumed there were probably a lot of other folks in similar situations to which we once were, hungry for Fish Fry, but not sure where to go. We put in our time and sampled over 100 individual places before we felt comfortable that we “knew what we were doing.” By this point it was 2006 and another local Fish Fry lover bought a similar domain and had started her own reviews. Soon enough the Wisconsin Fish Fry Reviews blog showed up and the information base grew even more. Today there are well over a half dozen sites/blogs dedicated to reviewing Fish Frys in their local regions often times with varying opinions about the same Fish Fry.
It turns out that if you really scour the net you will eventually happen upon Cool Dadio and his Fish Fry review page. I like Cool Dadio for a few reasons. One, he has a different part of the state on lockdown and if I ever go SW for a Fish Fry his page will prove a valuable resource. Two, he has been at this for a while and has a good catalog built up which lends him some credibility. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, the dude reviews Fish Fry and strip clubs. He is not gonna be tied to one specialty area. He is clearly a renaissance man who has his priorities straight and knows what needs to be done. Cool Dadio is cool with Madison Fish Fry.
Recently Cool Dadio visited Bennett’s Meadowood Country Club on Madison’s southwest side and had some favorable words for their walleye special. Since I was looking for a new lunch-time Fish Fry and Bennett’s plays that game, I told Gabe to meet me there. I showed up around 12:45 and grabbed a spot at the bar. Unbeknownst to me, Gabe arrived earlier than his 1pm estimate and was waiting there for me. We both sat separately at the bar for a good 20-30 minutes before I finally looked around the large gentleman to my left to see him sitting there enjoying a book and a beer. As soon as he saw me he moved over and we hailed one of the bartender/waitress types to order some fish.
With the $7.25 lunch special came the choice of soup or salad bar of which we both chose the salad bar. This “salad bar” was like none other I have seen. It was six tubs in a tray full of ice perched atop the highest part of the bar. It was mildly amusing to see Gabe standing on his tiptoes to see what the tubs contained. Each was filled with a different kind of salad and these were real salads my friends, no lettuce here. One housed the cottage cheese and one the snotty looking, but tasty coleslaw. The remaining four were home to: tuna salad with noodles, Cajun chicken salad, potato salad and one other salad that I didn’t try. Those I did try were all pretty tasty even though they looked like they could have been store bought.
We finished our salads and the walleye came about 5 minutes or so later, direct from the fryer. The single fillet was piled onto a generous stack of fries and tartar. It was a bit of a conundrum since you would really like to be able to cut the walleye up, but there was no real estate to do so. I wound up ripping mine in half lengthwise to facilitate its handling and cooling. The walleye had a firm, yet very flavorful batter. It was certainly a unique blend of spices with a clear hint of cinnamon. While the batter tasted good the texture was not really great and was a little too thick and firm overall. The fish itself was rather thin and fairly small for a walleye fillet. It was mildly flaky but also a little firm in spots. In particular, the ends were ultra crispy and really had to be ripped apart.
The straight cut fries were standard pub fare, but were cooked and salted well. The tartar was also good as it had some mustard intermingling with a butt load of relish. It was nice and thick, and at the least it gave the spicy walleye and zesty kick.
We all know Bennett’s as the ingenious purveyors “Smut and Eggs” on weekends. While this wasn’t the Smut and Fish Fry I was thinking it might be it still wasn’t bad. Even though the service leaves a little something to be desired, and there was no bread with the Fish Fry, I would still recommend it, but just barely. Overall, it is a good deal since you are getting walleye for $7.25 with an AYCE style salad bar. If there is one thing I have found about Cool Dadio it is that everything is cool with him, including Bennett’s. If there are places that he wouldn’t recommend he must not list them because I have yet to read one truly negative review. Here at Madison Fish Fry if the Fish Fry stinks we will let you know about it. As it stands, Bennett’s doesn't stink but there is definitely and odor present. They get passing marks from us, but with a B-/C+ average we probably won’t be chomping at the bit to return.
2009 Freeport Road
Madison, WI 53711