Fish Type: Lake Perch Price: $18.00
Overall, I would highly recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Excellent|
Potato Score: Excellent
Tartar Score: Good
Bread Score: Good
Miscellaneous Score: Good
Comment: If you're like me, when you think of the best Fish Frys, supper clubs and taverns spring to mind. Sure, a family restaurant, a brew pub, or even a diner might work their way into the mix, but for the most part it's our locally-owned taverns and clubs that shine. Rarely do fine dining establishments enter the conversation, as it seems like a crowd they could do without for the most part, but once in a while a place like the Tempest sneaks in there. They also have a kick-ass happy hour, so take that for what it's worth...
The Tempest is definitely a fine dining establishment since things like fresh oysters and swanky fish preparations are their specialty, but that doesn't mean they are just paying lip service to the Fish Fry. They does things right with both lake perch ($18) AND bluegill ($16) gracing their Friday menu, and the lake perch perpetration can be described as nothing less than beautiful. It's literally about as pretty as a Fish Fry gets with five fat fillets of real yellow perch gracing the plate with their crumbly breading, and near-perfect flavor. Of course, there is no grease at all on these loins, and our only regret about them was running out before we could get enough.
Few places, even supper club and taverns, do house-cut fries, but the Tempest has no problem with that demand. Theirs come in droves and serve as a type of straw bed for the festooned fish. Unfortunately, this Friday, the spuds were not fryer fresh, but the taste was still there despite some latent crispiness. In all fairness we've gotta dock them a point for the lukewarmness, but in general these things are excellent.
Whereas the perch and (normally) the fries knock it out of the park, the tartar was a bit of a miss. While it was house-made for sure, it was a bit on the dilly side. It certainly didn't really make the fish any better, which is the hallmark of any good sauce. Definitely a strike out for the Oyster Bar...as they say, you can't win 'em all.
Before any of the preceding occurred, a nice basket of crusty sourdough graced our table and made us all happy. In addition, waaaaaaay too much fresh slaw for one person the eat came along with the fish with the bevy of rainbow shreds being far too raw tasting. A bit more creaminess might have boosted the blend but even I sent at least half of the massive scoop back. It was a monster.
The Tempest isn't your average Fish Fry joint, but that shouldn't keep you from thinking about them when Friday rolls around. Taverns are tremendous, and supper clubs make us smile, but fine dining can be just fine as well. Overall, we highly recommend this Fish Fry, and think that as far as fancy Fish Frys go, it's easily among the best Madison has to offer. Get tempted.
120 E Wilson St
Madison, WI 53703