Fish Type: Lake Perch Price: $14.00
Overall, I would recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Good|
Potato Score: Good
Tartar Score: Good
Bread Score: Excellent
Miscellaneous Score: Excellent
Comment: The Oakcrest is an institution in the Fish Fry world. They’ve been at their spot on Old Middleton Road for what seems like forever and have no trouble packing them in each and every Friday (and Wednesday for that matter). The bar knows their clientele as well as any and stick to their tried and true recipe for success. They definitely have it down and run an impressive amount of people through the miniscule bar without batting an eyelash. It’s really a sight to see.
Of course when we showed up this Friday the bar was packed. Fortunately, the ever-diligent bartenders keep a watchful eye on the crowd and we had beer in our hands in no time. Eventually we got some seats at the bar and decided to just order there rather than wait for a table to open up.
The fish of choice at the ‘crest is the lake perch (although cod is available for those leery of the freshwater finsters). The perch isn’t cheap (at $14.00), but the five filets are large and will fill you up. In addition there is a “Hungry Man” portion for a whopping $22 or you can add additional pieces to the regular portion for $2.50 a pop. The perch is certainly high quality and flaky which is always a good place to start. With a base like that all you really need is a light breading with some seasoning and you’re home free. Unfortunately, the homemade batter at the Oakcrest could use some work. While it’s not a total teardown and rebuild situation, it’s relatively rigid and basically just beer and flour. It doesn’t have any discernable seasoning and therefor no real taste to speak of. All you get is the taste of the fish, and while that’s okay, some more salt would surely perk it up.
The crinkle-cut fries that come with the fish are the simplest fries you’ll ever find. They wrote the book on basic, and while they’re plain as can be at least they’re fried to a ‘T’. Like the batter on the fish, the tartar could use a little life. It’s basically straight mayo which makes it seems like they’re not even trying to make a real tartar. It comes in a gigantic cup and while it has plenty of zip, diversity is an afterthought.
A little slice of rye comes on the side and does its part and then some. The slaw also picks up some of the slack and might be the best part of the whole meal. While it looks boring it houses a big horseradish punch that makes it deceptively delicious.
The Fish Fry Oakcrest is no secret and if you are planning to pay them a visit on Friday night be prepared to wait your turn. Luckily for you the turnover is impressive and waits rarely exceed 30 minutes. Overall, we recommend this Fish Fry despite the shortcomings with the batter, and don’t’ see them slowing down any time soon.
5371 Old Middleton Road
Madison, WI 53705