Fish Type: Walleye Price: $15.00
Overall, I would barely recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Good|
Potato Score: Good
Tartar Score: Good
Bread Score: Poor
Miscellaneous Score: Excellent
Comment: After our first visit to Graze we thought it would be many moons before our shadows would darken the square-adjacent eatery again. Lo and behold, a mere two months later here we were; the reason for our expeditious return being that friends from out of town had infiltrated the city with a strong desire to pay the unfamiliar, but sought-after, downtown dining spot its dues. All told we had a group of nine, and knew a bit of a wait was in store, so a few of us showed up a little early, got our name on the list, and enjoyed a couple cheap High Lifes at the bar. Luckily for our brood, just as everyone in the party showed up, the long table that graces the heart of Graze opened up. We were in like Flynn.
The polite and punctual waitress appeared moments after everyone was seated, and relayed the fish special. She left promptly with orders for more drinks, and some of Grazeís special vodka battered cheese curds. When she reappeared more instructions were issued, this time in the form of $15 walleye, and $20 hamburgers. She buzzed away to make our desires known, returning shortly after with our bounty of thickly battered curds. The creamy goodness of the curds quickly vanished into the hungry bellies situated around the table, and tamed the savage beasts for a brief moment. Curds conquered, we waited for the walleye which wafted tableward within 15 minutes of its initial inquiry, fresh from the deep fryer.
On our previous endeavor at Graze the walleye was stricken with a supremely thick and doughy cornmeal batter which totally sublimated the fish. This time around we were met with a changeup as the walleye was coated in the same vodka based concoction that graced the more than capable curds. We found it to be much more enjoyable, as one could actually taste the fish as it struggled to make its voice heard from under a dense batter sheath. The batter was still the dominant force, but by and large the fish-batter combo worked, even though the fish was definitely the submissive in this relationship. The biggest detractor however was the fact that for your $15 you only get two small, relatively thin pieces of fish which doesnít necessarily complement the Wisconsin appetite, if ya catch my drift.
Pairing well with the abundantly battered fish was a non-traditional, but tasty, tartar with a thin ranch-like base. Usually we are not huge fans of the runnier sauces, but this tartar actually worked well with the rich fish, so we wonít complain too much. We also canít complain about the phenomenal fries (or frites, if you must) that accompanied the girls to the ball. These pleasant potato partitions were clearly made in-house, and slathered with salt, which I enjoyed, but others found to be a bit much. They were easily some of the best you are going to find in our fair city, and are certainly on par with the likes of The Coopers Tavern, Capital Tap Haus, Buck & Honeyís or jacs (we have also heard the frites at Brasserie V are also to die for, but have never had the pleasure of sampling them).
Conversely, I found the homemade slaw to be fairly average, but most everyone else really liked it. It was composed of long thin cabbage and carrot slices with a slightly creamy sauce that had a little zest to it. Unfortunately, the slaw was missing its partner in crime and there wasnít any bread to be found, which is a game changer in our book.
After a second visit to Graze there were certainly some signs of improvement, but we canít quite give them the full-fledged MFF seal of approval. Overall, the food is good, and clearly of the utmost quality, however, the fish was merely acceptable as the batter was improved, but still left a little something to be desired. In addition, the fact that you donít get much bang for your buck doesnít really help matters. The standout fries were a very welcome addition, and the tartar and slaw did what they could, but in the end this is a case of portion versus price, and at $15 you should really get a little more than what Graze is pandering. While I fully expect to pony up the dough for walleye I also expect to be stuffed when leave, and unfortunately for yours truly, this hasnít been the case at Graze.
1 South Pinckney
Madison, WI 53703