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Fish Type: Lake Perch     Price: $15.00

Overall, I would barely recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Great beer does not always equal great Fish Fry. Hard to believe, I know, but it’s true. While it would be nice if that was a 1:1 correlation the fact of the matter is that it’s not. Of course, if that were the case the Ale Asylum would have some of the best Fish Fry known to man, but as it stands they are still learning the ropes.

The AA never even had a FF until a couple months ago and dipped their toe in the water with a ”bluegill” Fish Fry that wasn’t even real bluegill. We reviewed it as such and perhaps based on that, or perhaps not, they’ve changed their ways. They are now doing the standard cod Fish Fry every Friday (smart move) along with a rotating cast of characters weekly. This week the rotator was lake perch and we jumped at the chance to sample it.

Whereas the cod has the same beer batter that came with the “bluegill” the perch is dry battered with dry being the operative word. This batter was as coarse as they come, although excessively seasoned. It was hard to tell exactly what was going on with it, but the crunchy breading definitely crushed the delicate fish (which was the real deal yellow lake perch, btw). While I liked the direction they are taking with it they could probably shake some of the coating off before it takes the plunge. As it stands, it’s okay, but a far cry from the moist flaky bits you can find just across the road. The plate runs $15 and they’ll let you tack on additional fillets for $2 for apiece (which is super handy if you have little ones with you).

If you seek asylum in fried potatoes the AA isn’t the pace for you as you won’t find fries anywhere on the menu. A nice pile from a cheesy hash brown casserole sits in their stead and is large and in charge. This lavish loaf definitely takes precedence over the plate and wows with its creamy innards and crisp crust. For our money it’s the best part of the deal and an above average spud option.

Two variations of Unshadowed tartar come with every Fry and are both appealing in thie ron right. The spicy style definitely brings the heat and the plain offers a welcome respite for those who can’t handle the heat. While they are both on the thin end of the spectrum they are both welcome additions, especially when you consider the drenching necessitated by the breading.

A nice slab of rosemary sourdough bread as well as some homemade slaw round out the plate and got destroyed by yours truly. The bread was different than most any you will find and the homemade slaw is definitely a crowd-pleaser.

It takes years for some places to find their stride where Fish Fry is concerned and it can be a bumpy ride in getting there. For most, incremental improvement is key and that’s exactly what the Ale Asylum has going for it. Sure, this Fish Fry still didn’t blow our socks off, but we liked it more than the one we had previously and think our next visit will be even better (we’ve heard good things about the cod). Overall, we still barely recommend this Fish Fry but can see it taking a huge leap with a few subtle changes. The beer is obviously already highly recommendable.
2002 Pankratz Street
Madison, WI 53704

(608) 663-3926