Fish Type: Lake Perch Price: $14.00
Overall, I would barely recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Good|
Potato Score: Fair
Tartar Score: Good
Bread Score: Good
Miscellaneous Score: Fair
Comment: Madison Fish Fry is the forgiving sort. We usually give people the benefit of the doubt, and always try to see the bright side, especially when we are talking about Fish Frys. That probably stems from the fact that we love our fish, and more often than not feel like most places do it right (way to go Wisco!). However, there are a lot of places that get very busy on Friday nights due to their reputation as Fish Fry hot-spots, and sometimes these crowds have an adverse effect on the wait staff. Unfortunately, that’s the scenario that played out for us at The Sister Bay Bowl.
We arrived pretty late (8:30) and figured we’d be in-n-out in no time. Since we’ve been to the Bowl for beverages a few times before we kinda knew what we needed to do, and had a table within our 15 minute quoted wait time. At this point in the evening it was still busy, but not exactly what you’d call crazy-busy. We had a chance to sit and look over the menu, and eventually figured out which waitress was ours when she walked by and looked down her nose at us crossly - not a good start. Eventually, she painted on a fake smile and came by to take our orders.
While the menu was fairly straight forward, we (mostly my vegetarian wife) had a couple questions which were answered curtly and not to our satisfaction. Fearing further reprisal, she quickly threw an order together as best she could on partial information, while I opted for the standard Door County perch that comes with French fries (do not even try to inquire about hash browns, or risk further scowling). Medusa then left to put the order in leaving us feeling like we’d just been brow-beaten.
In no more than three minutes our food appeared – I kid you not, it was that fast. It was almost alarming to have a full plate in front of me that quickly and I immediately wondered how it was even possible… at first taste I knew… this fish wasn’t fried just for me. The SBB is clearly running an assembly line Fish Fry where they just fry a bunch and fill plates as orders for it appear – never good for fried foods. My four butterflies were lukewarm, but still maintained a delicate texture (a sign of fresh fish). Even at the tepid temps they tasted good, and featured the typical golden Door County breading, but unlike other breading we’ve had in Door, you could taste a little extra hint of spice. Surely, had we gotten a freshly fried batch, this perch would have been superb.
Apparently another DoCo norm is crinkle-cut fries, which, while acceptable if they come in an AYCE, are less than desirable when plated with my perch. These were as basic as it gets, but were at least hot. The tartar was also a bit too basic as it looked to be about 99% mayo and 1% relish. While it was thick, it had an unhealthy gloss that made it look a bit unappetizing and little flavor since it was almost straight mayo.
A fresh cabbage and vinegar coleslaw was also basic, but not in a bad way. The sweet vinegar had a nice zip which really would have gone well with the half rye/half white loaf of bread (had we received it). Truth be told, we did receive it, but only because we went out of our way to ask for it. In her haste to get us out the door she totally spaced it (or more than likely intentionally didn’t bring it). By the time we did get it I was too full to even try the rye (and I live to cut up those little loaves). Sad face.
Off-putting service aside, we still have some issues with this Fish Fry, namely the assembly-line manner in which the food is prepared, and the lack of options for customers willing to pay for an upgrade – the “take it or leave it” philosophy is rarely acceptable when you’re talking Fish Fry (some people just want more than fries or a baked potato). Overall, we still barely recommend this Fish Fry and have to imagine that if we had a more pleasurable experience they might even reach highly recommended territory – the fish seemed worthy.
10640 North Bay Shore Drive
Sister Bay, WI 54234