Fish Type: Cod (AYCE) Price: $11.00
Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Fair|
Potato Score: Fair
Tartar Score: Fair
Bread Score: Fair
Miscellaneous Score: Excellent
Comment: If the Good Lord had meant for us to eat at buffets he wouldn’t have invented waitresses. I mean, don’t get me wrong, a Fish Fry buffet is better than no Fish Fry at all, but for our money, the finest in Fryland comes fresh from the kitchen and made to order – that’s just the way it is. In fact, at times, we’ve been known to pass on all you can eat buffets in favor of a finite amount of freshly fried pieces – that should tell you just how strongly we feel about our fresh fried philosophy.
The Fish Fry at St. Michael Catholic Parish in the Village of Dane is a seasonal affair, and before a few weeks ago we hadn’t even heard of it. As you might have guessed from the intro, it is a buffet-style Fish Fry which costs 11 bucks but comes with all the fixins. Our 10 minute wait breezed by thanks to $2 Miller Lites (the beer selection was not great), and the delightful ambiance of the school hallway – kids artwork, motivational slogans galore - the whole nine yards.
Well, we must have looked like a group of ruffians since the seating coordinator decided we needed to be WAAAAY down at the end of the cafeteria-style tables, well away from the next closet group of diners. We didn’t really care and the second she turned away to seat the next group we headed to the buffet. The line started with a bang on some bonus baked beans (BBs aren’t a Fish Fry staple so you gotta be thankful when they come your way). The additional legumes were followed by a warming tray full of fritters, a tray of baked potatoes, the fries, and finally the fish. The coleslaw and regular rolls were already on the table, so as soon as the fish was on the plate we were on our way.
Since the plates were smallish everything kinda ran together, but that’s not really a problem for us here at MFF (although we know that for some people that would be a major issue) – plan accordingly. We sampled our fare in the same order it was on the buffet starting at the beans and going from there. You might assume that since it’s the school cafeteria they’d just serve you the same beans they serve the kids on a day-to-day basis, and you’d be right. They were a nice addition, but certainly not something St. Mike’s went out of their way on. Likewise, the fritters were also a bit on the south side of average. Regardless of how warm the tray seemed to be, the fried dough was lukewarm at best, and clearly not fresh. What’s more, there was nothing sweet (like honey) to perk up the crusty nuggets of dough which sat in my gut more like a rock than a pillow-y lump of sweetness. The hamburger buns that filled in as dinner rolls didn’t do much to pick up the slack either, leaving us with a couple of bread options, but not one good one.
Like the crusty fritters, the crinkle-cut fries were lukewarm at best, and simply not good. When it comes to French fries, warming trays be damned; if it isn’t fresh from the fryer it is not going to be good (you might be catching on to why we aren’t big fans of buffets at this point- when you’re talking fried, if you’re not talking fresh, you’re talking failure).
Unlike the potatoes, which many All You Can Eaters pass right on by, the fish was hot on our first trip, and even hotter on round two. St. Michael’s cod has a light cornmeal (catfish-style) breading which well could have been Shorelunch or some other non-descript mix. The key with the buffet system is to grab the good fat pieces, rather than the few thin ones that get mixed in. The fatties were flaky and moderately light with literally no grease at all while the thin pieces had a tendency to get firm and chewy. The second round fish (which was the hotter of the two) was far superior, again showing the freshness counts! Make sure to find the thick pieces that are steaming if you can.
The tartar at the table came in a big family-style dish and looked to be homemade, but was thin and runny - more like ranch than mayo. It really wasn’t very good, and didn’t help the fish one iota. The coleslaw, which also awaited our arrival, was also possibly homemade, and also not so great. The thin vinegar blend tasted like they had mixed it the minute prior, leaving the marinade no time to soak into the raw tasting cabbage.
The welcome reprieve at these sorts of events is supposed to be the homemade dessert table, but unfortunately for yours truly, some devilish doer spiked my plain looking cupcake with a dose of cinnamon not fit for Lucifer himself. Even a coffee cup full of milk wasn’t enough to sooth the sting of the cinnamon, and after so many letdowns all we wanted to do was get out the basketball hoop in the corner and throw down some 8’ dunks to vent our frustrations… alas, it was no meant to be.
What can we say about our visit to the church in Dane? Well, St. Pete’s it was not – I think we’ve established that. Maybe we have too lofty a standard based on the angelic offering in Aston? Probably, and I hate to knock a Church, but I can honestly say I wouldn’t drive back out to Dane for this Fish Fry and wouldn’t recommend anyone else do it either. It’s really too bad, but it just wasn’t good enough and if you’re in Dane anyway you might as well just go to Peg & Doc’s – they make fish every week and know what they are doing. Believe in that.
109 S. Military Road
Dane, WI 53529
(608) 849- 5610