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Fish Type: Lake Perch     Price: $16.00

Overall, I would highly recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: Every once in a while a new Fish Fry bursts on to the scene and forces Madison to stand up and take notice. LJ's is that Fish Fry.

It should come as no surprise the LJ's has a great Fish Fry since they basically just cloned the legendary Esquire and moved it a dozen blocks or so closer to the Capitol. Like the 'squire the most popular option among the specials is the AYCE Ocean Perch, and while I have to agree it is great, this time I just had to get my gums on the $16 lake perch. For starters, the bar was surprisingly accessible despite the Madison East football game at Breese Stevens next door. There were plenty of Purgolders coming and going but that didn't prevent us getting a table right away even at the peak of the frying hour. It was a small miracle, but also spoke to how fluidly the establishment was running.

We were hungry so we started things off with a shrimp cocktail and the prawns were potent. These suckers put the "jumbo" in jumbo shrimp and tasted fresh and fantastic. It was a surprising win and a really nice way to kick things off. The plateful of perch followed shortly after and were definitely the real deal. Seven fat fillets filled the plate with genuine flair and a crispy crust. The same breading that makes the OP so pleasurable seemingly graces the freshwater fish, and appeared to cling even better on the lake lovers. The flavors were simply fantastic, and highlighted to the utmost by the textural dichotomy drawn between the flaky fish and crunchy coating.

If there is a shortcoming at LJ's it's the crinkle-cut fries, but luckily there is an alternative. The cottage fries are a step up, and the pillowy puffs of potato perfection were preferred by both dad and son alike. The typical big bold supper club tartar is also borrowed from the Esquire, and puts the perfect finishing touch on any perch it's put on.

A nice basket of rye slices were doughy and hearty and a smart move by the establishment to limit the AYCErs to some degree. While the goopy, zesty, creamy coleslaw is also just what the doctor ordered.

It's tough to find a flaw with this Fish Fry, and you'd expect it to be equally tough to find a table on Friday nights. We seemingly lucked out this week, but if you don't feel like taking the chance like we did, LJ's offers their superb fish EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK! It's pretty remarkable and something we'll likely take advantage of in the future. Overall, we recommend this Fish Fry and can't really blame Little John for taking his cues from Big John.
8 N Paterson Street
Madison, WI 53703