Fish Type: Lake Perch Price: $14.00
Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Fair|
Potato Score: Good
Tartar Score: Good
Bread Score: Good
Miscellaneous Score: Good
Comment: I like to get around. Sure, Madison has its share of great fish, but there are tons of small towns within a 30 minute-ish drive and each of them have their own claims to Fish Fry fame. Stoughton is roughly a half hour cruise from our place and we'd exhausted most all their Fish Fry options until the Viking Brew Pub opened up and gave us another reason to take a drive.
They say you should never judge a book by its cover and nowhere is that more true than at the VBP. The building that houses the pub is something straight out of the 60s, which is to say it's none too pretty. Luckily, the bar inside is immaculate and has the coolest fire-breathing dragon one three year old has ever seen. But enough about the Nordic ambiance, we came to eat the fish and eat we did. The Viking has cod and "lake perch" available on Friday, but this perch is definitely not your traditional yellow perch.
"How can you tell it's not traditional?" you might ask. Well for starters these fillets are far too big to be yellow perch (think 6-7 inches instead of 3-5 inches). They also have a distinctively different (slicker) texture compared to the real yellow perch. More than likely they are using European Zander or Pike-Perch which many distributors sell as lake perch these days. These fillets also had a bit of a shrimpy flavor which wasn't over-the-top, but was definitely noticeable. In addition, they were a little tough to gnaw through as the batter ultra-crunchy. In fact, it was so firm it could be held in a plank-like fashion with little fear of wilting...which I guess is a plus if you're into hard core dipping. We also sampled the cod which was far superior to the perch and didn't have unwelcome aftertastes. Cod is usually more susceptible to stray flavors so I'd guess they keep one fryer bay just for the cod while the perch likely gets mixed with other seafoods. The cod had a relatively thick beer batter with a nice creamy flavor, and like i say, no shrimpiness.
A small portion of well-seasoned fries sat north of the fish and held their own as best they could. A 2 oz. cup of tartar also did it's job and made the fish much better. It was thick and creamy and covered the flaws in the perch just like it needed to do.
A nice little ciabatta roll improved things further, but unfortunately the same can't be said of the slaw which had a bit of a chalky taste and worst of all...craisins! Dried fruit in coleslaw. I'll never understand.
Being of Norwegian decent I can fully appreciate all that Stoughton has to offer, and really liked the look and feel of the Viking and their BIG beers (a 7+ ABV works for me). The Fish Fry on the other hand was a bit of a mixed bag. While the cod did they job, the perch didn't stack up and left me longing for the genuine article. Overall, we recommend the cod, but not the perch at the Viking and might well come back again for saltwater surprise someday soon.
211 E Main Street
Stoughton, WI 53589