Fish Type: Smelt Price: $13.00
Overall, I would recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Excellent|
Potato Score: Good
Tartar Score: Good
Bread Score: Poor
Miscellaneous Score: Good
Comment: The Tin Fox has been something of a foodie darling in Madison since they opened during the height of the Monroe Street construction in 2018. It had to be a daunting few months, but they somehow made it through and I figured that after weathering that storm the place would be packed ever after. We showed up early this Friday for their Fish Fry expecting the place to fill up within minutes...
Oddly, that expectation was never met. There were literally the same amount of people there when we left around 6:00 as when we arrived around 4:30 - 0. It was very strange to see since the Fox looks like the kind of place and has the kind of menu that should be drawing diners in like bees to honey. We showed up for the traditional cod or haddock (they have both on Fridays), but were pleasantly surprised to see smelt in place of the latter. Apparently the haddock boat didn't come in so a $13 smelt plate was substituted...and I jumped on it.
Since our son was with, and also since I flat out like them, we got a round of the curbs as an app. These have to be some of the most unique curds we've ever come across. They are pancake battered, and while that sounds daunting, and the maple syrup drizzle just sounds weird, these had to be some of the tastiest curds we've ever had. For $10 they are up there price-wise, but by God, they might actually have been worth it. They were rich and decadent, and the sticky syrup worked surprisingly well with the mild cheese. While I was surprised at how much I actually liked them, MFF Junior said that he thought they were the best he's ever had and the kid doesn't even like pancakes!!! And here I thought he'd take one bite and spit them back out...
The beer battered smelt came just as we polished off the gooey curds and looked great. While I'd normally shy away from beer battering smelt, this bubbly batter was as light as can be and allowed any grease to leak away from the fish before being served. As expected, the smelt were super fishy, and actually offset nicely by the batter. Like the crazy curds, it was almost miraculous in a way and had me happily munching away at the 14 or so pieces on the plate.
Lots and lots of thin house-cut fries sat shotgun and felt like they'd never run out. These superb spuds were pure munching pleasure and I gleefully took them down without hesitation. A caper-loaded tartar should have been a turnoff, but like the beer battered smelt, and syrup smeared curds before it, it'll surprise ya. It was thick, rich, and balanced, and offset the fishiness of the smelt fantastically.
So many places are phasing out the bread (I'll never understand why) and the Tinner is one of them. Luckily, a house slaw totally overshadowed that fact with its crazy Dijon base and crisp cabbage texture. I mean, who makes slaw like this? And more so, how is it delicious? The Tin Fox is crazy!
There was so much going on at with the Tin Fox Fish Fry that it should have been a huge disaster. The place was dead...like D.E.A.D. dead at 4:30 on a Friday. The curds were crazy, the smelt was beer battered, the slaw was bizarre, and on it goes... None of this should have worked, but by some miracle, or maybe just awesome chef-fing, it all came together better than we ever could have imagined. Overall, we actually highly recommend this Fish Fry and think they need to keep it up. Madison doesn't know what they're missing...
2616 Monroe St
Madison, WI 53711