Fish Type: Lake Perch Price: $19.00
Overall, I would highly recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Excellent|
Potato Score: Good
Tartar Score: Excellent
Bread Score: Excellent
Miscellaneous Score: Excellent
Comment: In 2012 we came to the Sister Bay Bowl for their "legendary" Fish Fry. We were younger, wilder, pre-child, and showed up late thinking the crowd would be thin and the fish would be hot. Well, 8:00 is pretty late, but apparently not late enough to thin this crowd. We still waited a good 30 minutes for a table and when we finally got a spot our waitress was clearly ready to be done. She was curt and fully expected to throw in couple more orders of fish and call it a night. When my then-vegetarian wife pinged her with various questions about substitutions and the like she was met with a very "it is what it is" attitude. It soured the whole meal, and when my fish came lukewarm it was easy for me to write the whole thing off. Best of Door County my eye...
Time heals all wounds as they say, and for our 2019 trip to DoCo I vowed to try the Bowl again and see if that one bad experience was the exception or the rule. It turns out 2012 was an EXTREME exception... 7 years, one child, about 500 Fish Frys, and many lessons learned later we got to experience the SBB in all its glory. This time we showed up to an overflowing parking lot at 4:45 and got our names on the waiting list pronto. We killed an hour or so milling around the lanes, playing bar games, sipping stiff Old Fashioneds, and enjoying the company of our friends from Manitowoc. When we got our spot in the dining room overlooking the Sister Bay hill our party of six was met by a kind and patient waitress. All the cards were falling into place this time.
The Fish Fry of record at the Bowl is lake perch (as it should be) and they aren't exactly giving it away (as they shouldn't be). The plate is composed of four fat butterflies (that's 8 fillets for any novices in the room) and these babies are silky smooth with the absolute lightest breading imaginable. This is what lake perch is supposed to taste like - just enough breading to add some depth, but light enough that the perch is what you taste first and last. It's so smooth and so balanced one could easily cram 'em in without tartar, but the sauce definitely makes them something more.
The tartar in this case was thick as molasses and about ten times as tasty. It gives the perch just what it wants - a little kick without overshadowing its inherent delicate sweetness. A bevy of fat crinkle-cut fries support the star as well, and while they aren't going to win any awards they don't need to. They're here to do a job and to that end their mission is achieved. Some house slaw also does it's job without trying to co-star, and the creamy concoction rounds things out admirably.
All fish, fries, slaw, and sauce aside (and that's a big aside) the Sister Bay Bowl goes straight-up supper club with a real loaf of slice-it-yourself bread on a mini-cutting board. What's more, this loaf isn't just straight up white or rye - it's a half and half! Never before have I seen such a feat and I almost didn't know how to handle myself once I saw it. I swear gazing upon its majesty I saw the eyes of God and he smiled back saying this is the gift I give for you. Praise be.
Bad service can sour even the heartiest Fish Fry fan and I have no problem admitting that it happened to me. It took me a while to come around, but I'm glad I finally gave the legendary Bowl a second chance. I have no problem saying that it lived up to the hype and then some. It really is everything a Fish Fry should be and it's no wonder people consider it the Best of Door County. Overall, we highly recommend this Fish Fry. The ambiance and the waitress were fantastic and the perch is easily worthy of Top 25 status. It is the stuff of legend.
10640 North Bay Shore Drive
Sister Bay, WI 54234