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Fish Type: Catfish     Price: $7.00

Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.

Fish Score: Good
Potato Score: Excellent
Tartar Score: Poor
Bread Score: Poor
Miscellaneous Score: Excellent

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Comment: I’m not really sure what to think about this experience and don’t really want to write a full review about it (mostly because there was no real Fish Fry to review), but the story goes like this: Jer and I got a couple free “tailgate” passes to the Mallards’ game from his cousin. He’d gotten them from a friend who was part of the Tircor group and thus had some connections with the team. We arrived at the stadium planning to skip the fish, opting instead to just eat the free brats that came with the “tailgate” (they didn’t have a Fish Fry at the main concession stand this Friday anyway, only a fish sandwich). Sounds like a good plan, right? Well, upon hearing that the Amazing Madison Fish Fry was in attendance (Jer’s cousin spilled the beans) our host (the Tricor guy) decided that the fish must be tried come hell or high water. We were left with little recourse.

Now keep in mind, at this point I wasn’t really hungry since I’d just wolfed down a couple fully-loaded brats, but our generous host insisted on getting us the fish. Within 10 minutes he delivered, and Jer and I had four pieces of unrequested, steaming hot cod in our hands. We did the only thing we rally could do, and gave it a shot, I mean, I’m not one to turn away free fish regardless of the situation it’s served in.

It was clear just from looking at the cod that it was a pre-battered frozen fillet. It was just like the fish served at places like The Glass Nickel, which is about as tasty as a frozen fillet can get, but still not in the same ballpark as a real Fish Fry. Yes it did taste fine, but it was not hand-battered, and believe it or not, that does make a difference. I fully realize serving a crowd the size the Mallards do makes a homemade Fish Fry impossible, but I’m just calling balls and strikes here. It is what it is.

The tartar sauce was just a couple Heinz packets jammed alongside the fish – which is also just what it is. We’re not big fans of Heinz, in case you were wondering.

Before we could get through the fish and tartar packets a second paper tray appeared, this one overflowing with French fires. The shoestring style fries were really great, although it’s hard to know if your average Joe would get the same incredibly fresh and abundant portion. I kind of doubt it, but the ones we got were superb, so take that for what it’s worth.

I had one hand full of fish and another full of fries and for the first time was actually happy there was no coleslaw or bread with it. Usually, I’d be upset at the lack of sides, but this was almost merciful in a way.

So, that whole experience was new for us, but if that wasn’t enough as we sat in the bleachers during the 5th inning our host raced up to us again. “Here, you gotta try this!” he said. We looked down to see him holding more fish. Ugh. “It’s catfish!” He said gleefully. And again, more food was thrust upon us. Since we had no option, we each took a piece and decided to see what was what. Remarkably, the catfish was way better than the cod (although to be fair we’d had a few more beers at this point) and I actually enjoyed it thoroughly. It appeared to have been hand-battered with a zesty coating, and fried perfectly. It was a big step up from its frozen friend, although again, I really could have gone without the additional forced feeding.

While this wasn’t what I’d call a Fish Fry for the ages (or even a Fish Fry period), a Mallards game at the Duck Pond is a great experience for all ages. The atmosphere of the park is lively, and the games are sure to entertain. In all honesty, I think I can say that out of all the food I’ve eaten at the Duck Pond, the catfish is probably one of the tastier things. Unfortunately, as far as a full-fledged Fish Fry goes, it just doesn’t add up. Overall, I highly recommend the Mallards, but really can’t say the same for the Fish Fry. But hey, if you’re going to a Mallards game looking for top-notch fish you’re already missing the point - go for the brats, go for the fun, go support your hometown team, and don’t feel bad if the fish isn’t on your list. I wouldn’t.
2920 N. Sherman Avenue
Madison, WI 53704

(608) 246-4277