Fish Type: Smelt Price: $12.00
Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Fair|
Potato Score: Good
Tartar Score: Good
Bread Score: Good
Miscellaneous Score: Good
Comment: Once in a while I get a hankerin'. Usually it's for the lake perch at the Villa Tap or the bluegill at Dexter's but this week I was on the search for smelt. I think it probably had something to do with getting shutout at the NBSC's last Smelt Fry of 2018, but whatever the case was I was on a mission. I knew 5100 had smelt every Friday and since I couldn't remember exactly what it was like, and we hadn't been in what seemed like forever, it felt like fate wanted us to take the trip to McFarland...and so we did.
Now, smelt are small which is why when you see them out there it's often at an AYCE affair. 5100's weekly special only runs $12, and as you might have guessed, isn't AYCE for that price. The plate comes dotted with 12 or so of the teeny fish and each is encased in a thick and crunchy batter (at least it was thick for melt). They were really more like smelt fries (think French fry style) and I assume pre-battered (it just had that look and feel). Conversely, the cod (which my son got) had a light, flaky, peppery breading that was very appealing. Had the smelt come with that same coating it could have been superb, but as it was is was just so-so. A modicum of the smelty flavor did permeate the dense batter, but all in all they were simply overwhelmed.
Whereas the smelt suffered the hash browns with cheese and onion ($1.00 up-charge for the C&O) were superb. These spuds were slick and gooey, and lavishly loaded with cheese. The stringy cheddar leaked into every crack and crevice of the crisped shreds and made for a satisfying experience. Some thick tartar also did the deed and actually blended pretty well with the beefy batter on the smelt...of course it also crushed on the cod, so take that for what it's worth.
A nice little sphere of white bread with a crisp bottom was a step about the norm, while some super sloppy looking slaw had a fine flavor but was pretty middle of the road and certainly not much to look at.
5100 has been in the game for a while now and while we've never had a bad meal there, we've never been blown away either. That said, I don't remember the cod being nearly this tasty and I'm going to make it a point to come back soon to give it a real shot. The smelt on the other hand...we'll skip. Overall, we don't recommend this Fish Fry, but have high hopes for future visits.
5100 Erling Avenue
McFarland, WI 53558