Fish Type: Cod Price: $16.00
Overall, I would recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Good|
Potato Score: Excellent
Tartar Score: Good
Bread Score: Excellent
Miscellaneous Score: Good
Comment: Most places you go on a Friday night in Madison (or Wisconsin at large) are going to be busy, and those few places that have a reputation as being "the best of the best" are going to be REEEEEEEALLY REEEEEEEALLY busy - that's just the nature of the beast. If a place isn't packed by 5:30/6 it's a surefire sign that their Fish Fry isn't all that good and is probably being avoided for a reason. There are very few "sleepers" in the mix, but one place we've been couple times now and been pleasantly surprised is Smitty's Study Pub on the UW campus.
SSP is located on the top floor or the Fluno center and despite it's university location is 100% open to the public, save for special UW alumni events. The only limiting factors here are desire and parking, but if you have the will you'll find a way. Smitty's Fry is on the everyday menu, so it's not a special per se, but that doesn't mean their trotting out pre-battered garbage. The hand-dipped 3-piece cod runs a stiff $16, but considering the portion size and the proximity to major sporting events and such that's not totally unheard of. The pieces in the penthouse are fat and more than enough for a standard, or even a slightly hearty appetite - on both visits I've taken a piece home to be enjoyed the next day. The fish itself it flaky, and the batter light and grease-free, making for pure cod crunching pleasure.
A paper boat of house-cut fries come with the fish and believe me when I say they are some of the best out there right now. With their skin in tact and fried just right, they check all the main boxes and then some. A ramekin of thick and creamy tartar also does its duty and appears to be made in-house as well. A so-so slaw doesn't live up to the lofty standards set by the Big 3, but it really doesn't need to as a soft piece of real marble rye is there to pick up its slack. Being that we were at Dexter's for lunch we had real rye twice in one day! I could only think - Is this Madison!? Am I dreaming!? What year is this!? And so forth...
While I'm not fully prepared to call the Study Pub a "sleeper" after only two visits I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to a friend, or even a stranger who happened to be on or around campus on a Friday night. Overall, we recommend this and think it's a great change of pace if you don't feel like waiting at a crowded bar, or just want a nice Fish Fry in a clean, modern atmosphere..oh yeah, the killer view doesn't hurt either.
601 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53715