Fish Fry Review: Blue Moon, Madison, WI

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The Blue Moon is one of those "local bars" that's developed an almost cult-like following by a very dedicated group of patrons, which can result in a double-edged dilemma: it's great to be popular, but it's challenging to manage "supply and demand."

Trying to score both a parking spot and a seat at the Blue Moon is a major hurdle, especially on Friday nights or on Badger game nights. The Blue Moon is located within a stone's throw of the campus, and as such the building is tiny; the parking lot even tinier. And don't even think about trying to land street parking -there are three additional restaurants within a block, all of which share the parking/space challenges that Blue Moon does.

I had made arrangements to join my friends Jed and Jamie for dinner at the Blue Moon, but I worried about the parking and seating... So when I managed to find a parking spot in Blue Moon's lot and acquire a small "high top" table in the bar area, I knew that everything was likely to be ok. And, with luck clearly on our side, Jed and Jamie arrived within a few minutes and reported that they had also landed a parking spot without drama.

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The Blue Moon was crowded - there were plenty of folks wrapping-up the work week with a beverage or six - the grille was hoppin', and the waitstaff was jumpin'. Our waitress immediately stopped by to grab our drink orders and promptly returned with three fresh brews. She asked if we had any questions about the menu and wondered if we might be ready to order. Jed and Jamie were browsing the burger options (Blue Moon is famous for its burgers); I was considering my fish options. We placed a preliminary order for some cheese curds and waffle fries.

Our friendly waitress delivered our appetizer order to the grille and we continued to consider our menu options. Within ten minutes, our appetizers arrived and looked absolutely scrumptious. The Blue Moon may be famous for its burgers, but they apparently know a thing or two about fryer operation:

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The curds, while not homemade, were stellar. They had a light golden-brown breading that delicately covered a mixture of white and yellow cheeses. They were fried to perfection and free of any excess grease; the cheese was perfectly chewy, the breading crisp, and everything finished with just a hint of salt. The ranch was also spectacular.

The waffle fries were equally excellent - crispy, piping hot, and sprinkled with a hint of season salt. I do enjoy a waffle fry - they hold the perfect amount of ketchup, and the texture is a nice change of pace from the standard fry.

Our waitress stopped by again to take our orders - Jed and Jamie went the burger route; I went with the baked cod. Other fish options included fried cod, fried walleye, or fried perch (which was on special this evening). Having pre-filled my gut with fried goodies, I figured the baked fish was the more responsible route to take.

Within ten minutes, our entrees arrived, which is no small feat considering how busy the place was and how small the grille/kitchen area is. The burgers looked phenomenal - the cod looked "interesting."

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I cut into the huge piece of baked cod and was immediately pleased by the texture, look, and feel. The fish was flaky and light, and there wasn't a hint of grease or excess water anywhere. Fearing that it might be dry, I carefully took a bite and was pleased to discover that it was still quite moist and really delicious. The only problem: it was lukewarm at best.

But, therein lies a hidden "win" - even though the baked cod was cool to the touch, it was still quite excellent, and I had no problem wolfing it down with complete pleasure and enjoyment. The seasoning was perfectly balanced and the light crisp from the flattop grille was a nice touch. Blue Moon definitely uses some quality cod.

The garlic mashed potatoes were chunky and good; they're the only option when you order the baked cod. I was happy that they didn't drench everything in butter as well.

The burgers were reported as "good" - a bit over-cooked, but still tasty. We wrapped-up our meal with a final beverage; our waitress was spot-on the entire time. The bill came, and it was more than reasonable: $10 for the baked cod plate, $6-ish for the burgers. Plastic-users take note: the Blue Moon is a cash only joint. No cards accepted.

Blue Moon = WIN

Service = 4.25 stars (really good - spot on, responsive, friendly)
Food = 3.5 stars (everything was stellar; fish was lukewarm, which "cost" 1 full point)
Value = 3.75 stars (more than reasonable)
MISC = 2.5 stars (limited parking, limited seating)

In summary: I'd definitely recommend trying the Blue Moon fish fry; I've had the burgers in the past and really enjoyed them too, so this is definitely a "safe bet" place for dinner. Be sure to order something from the fryer as well - you'll be glad you did (although your cardiologist may not be as thrilled).

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This page contains a single entry by Steve published on November 1, 2010 10:54 AM.

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