Fish Type: Cod (AYCE) Price: $13.00
Overall, I would recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Good|
Potato Score: Good
Tartar Score: Good
Bread Score: Good
Miscellaneous Score: Excellent
Comment: In this day and age All You Can Eat Fish Frys are getting harder and harder to find. Most places have done away with them altogether, and the places that haven’t have been forced to raise their prices or lower their quality to keep up. Rarely do you see a newcomer to the Fish Fry scene offering the endless option, but 5100 in McFarland has taken on the challenge.
The AYCE dinner at 5100 is a well thought out affair. It features cod (fried and baked), smelt, and perch – all of which can be mixed-n-matched. What’s more, you can actually start with a single order of any of them for $10, and jump up to the $13 AYCE if you don’t get your fill on round one. It is a great policy, and a perk you don’t often find anymore – hey, it got me in the door. Since I knew I wanted to mix ‘em up, I just went for the AYCE from the get-go, and started with the smelt.
Even though the place is brand new, 5100 is already on top of their frying game. Our food came in no time and was piping hot all around. The large plate was loaded with upwards of 15 smelt and several scrumptious sides. The smelt was a little fishy tasting (as you’d expect), but any strong flavors were muted by a light, golden breading. The “books” were beheaded, betailed(?), split down the belly, and flipped open along the spine making for perfect little tartar canoes. They were fried firm and had a nice taste, although a little more seasoning in the almost-too-thick breading would have made them even more delectable.
The French fries were thick-cut, julienne style, and tasted good, but not great. Like everything else with this Fish Fry, they are AYCE which is necessary when you’re talking two more pieces of cod on Round 2. Truth be told, I only wanted one piece of cod and a couple shrimp, but the waitress said they were pre-portioned so it had to be two cod, three shrimp, or BOTH. Since I wasn’t up for packing all that in I settled on the cod. It came even faster than the first round of fish and was smooth, creamy, and light. It had a very flavorful beer batter that was just the right thickness. Cod > Smelt (in this case).
Highlighting both styles of fish was 5100’s tartar which was thick and creamy, but was laced with dill and capers. While the blend was still zesty, and didn’t totally turn me off totally, I could do with less of both of those things. That said, the punch it provided actually helped the smelt along somewhat, so take that for what it’s worth.
Also AYCE, and also delicious, was the homemade coleslaw. The sweet and zippy slaw was downright delightful, and had just the right consistency. A little round roll with a brilliant crust tagged along with the fish and was far better than your average bun.
While AYCE Fish Frys are going the way of the Dodo, 5100 is doing what they can to save the species. So far they are doing it right, and it shows in the number of customers funneling through the doors every Friday. Overall, I recommend both the smelt and the cod, and will be back any time I’m in the mood to mix things up.
5100 Erling Avenue
McFarland, WI 53558