Fish Fry Review: Water Street Brewery, Milwaukee, WI

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As mentioned in my "House Guest, Part II" entry, I had a chance to sample the fish fry from the Water Street Brewery, in Milwaukee. Quick review: terrible service (complete with horrible, snotty attitudes); decent fish; expensive. Won't be back.

Detailed review:
With an out-of-state guest in tow, a tour of the Miller Brewery under our belts, and an evening of Summerfest lurking just ahead, the only "pure Wisconsin" activity left un-explored was that of the traditional Friday fish fry.

We hopped in the car and made the short drive from Watertown Plank Road to Water Street, where I figured we would find a decent selection of fish frys to choose from. We parked the car and tried a few pubs/restaurants, only to be disappointed by the fish offerings. The first few places we stepped-into offered "fish and chips;" none appeared to have a proper Friday fish fry.

We walked our way down Water Street and stumbled upon the Water Street Brewery. A quick iPhone query of the web about their fish fry indicated the WSB did indeed offer a proper Friday fish fry, complete with cod, perch, and walleye choices. Score!

We asked for a table and after some confusion/hesitation were seated in the back corner of the restaurant, near the bar area. The booth was large and flanked by plenty of dark wood, lending to an almost Irish Pub theme/feel. There were two other couples seated nearby; the rest of the brewery was empty.

A waitress stopped-by to let us know that she'd be "right with us" and then scurried off, leaving us to explore the WSB menu, which is more of a newspaper (ala The Great Dane in Madison). After about 5 minutes or so, our waitress reappeared. Before we even got her name, she complained about people not knowing which door to enter the brewery from, and proclaimed that "today was the day where every idiot in the world has ventured into the brewery."

Nice to meet you, as well.

Neither of us felt like having any beers, so I ordered a Diet Coke and BJ ordered a water. We were ready to order our food, but our waitress left before we could place orders for the fish. She returned after another five minutes or so, and as she sat our drinks down, she said, "You wanted regular Coke, right?"

"Nope, sorry - Diet Coke, if possible," I responded.

She yelled over to the bartender (who was on her cell phone complaining to someone about her new Coach purse and how it wasn't what she wanted), "Do you love me?"

The bartender said (direct quote), "Not if you're going to request a f#&@king beer sampler - I'll kill anyone who orders one of those."

Nice customer service - great attitude and way to help promote the brewery's offerings...

"Remember that Coke? Now they want Diet," said our waitress. Great - blame it on me; I was preparing to filter spit from the replacement...

With a sigh, the waitress looked back at us and said, "What can I getchya'?"

I asked about the fish fry choices and explained that BJ was from out-of-state and was looking for the best fish fry offering. Our lovely waitress responded, "I'm not sure why people up here like their fish fry so much. I mean, it's like fried fish, right? Oh wow, like that's new or something. Where I'm from, we had better fish - bass is so good compared to cod."

Not really the answer we were looking for... BJ tried to be nice and picked-up on the "where I'm from" comment by asking where she was from. She responded that she was from Wichita, Kansas and had been in Wisconsin for about a year.

After a few minutes of really uncomfortable banter about Wisconsin and how it's full of fat people that love cheese, beer, and fried food, we ordered fried food - I went with the lake perch, and BJ went with the battered cod. Our waitress left with our orders. My replacement Diet Coke arrived after a few minutes, sans spit, so things were looking up.

As we were waiting, a group of older folks walked-in to the Brewery through a side door (the same door that BJ and I entered through) and seemed confused by the whole brewery. They were looking to buy some bottled beer to take with them back to their home (out of state); the staff was less than accommodating, to say the least.

Our waitress walked over to the side door and locked it, then walked over to our table and said, "I'd like to shoot anyone that comes through that door -it's not like the main entrance, so why are people so dumb?" We pointed out that we came through the door because it's on the main Water Street sidewalk, and it looked like the only entrance... she rolled her eyes and went back to the kitchen to check on our food.

The fish eventually arrived, and it looked to be good. The perch plate featured four large, butterflied filets of breaded perch, a nice accompaniment of fries, an interesting marble rye, and an Asian-inspired slaw.


The perch was slightly soggy; hints of grease became more evident with each bite. The fish itself was meaty with a perfect perch texture - slightly firm, slightly chewy; substantial if you will. The breading wasn't too heavy, although it was (as mentioned) on the greasy side.

The fries were cold, but not bad. The rye was delicious and featured a salted-crust, which was an unusual surprise. I even sampled the slaw, which was slightly sweet and actually quite good, even for a slaw-hater like myself. :-)

BJ's cod plate featured several thick pieces of cod, a handful of fries, and the same sides as the perch plate.


I was lucky enough to sample the cod, and found the batter to be quite heavy, very crispy, and slightly over-powering. It was good, but it took center stage over the delicate cod, which is a bit of a shame. There was also a substantial amount of grease, which didn't help things. Alas, we were both starving, so the fish was more than acceptable.

As we were about half-way through our meal, our lovely waitress returned and proceeded to talk to us for a solid 15 minutes about the differences between Wichita and Wisconsin. We learned most of her life's story, at the cost of our fish growing cold and more greasy. But, at least she wasn't berating us and the bartender wasn't complaining about having to sell beer...

After she left, I went to the restroom, which was located next to the kitchen, and is where I overheard our waitress complaining to someone (I assume a manager) about all of the idiots that she had to wait on today, including some old people that were "clueless" and two guys that were "dorks" - I'm assuming that was us...

I slinked back to our table and suggested that we leave as soon as the bill arrived, which did promptly did - as if on cue. The total damage: $38. Wow. For two mediocre fish frys and a soda... I left a $2 tip, which is something I'd never, ever do, but the service was truly terrible.

Water Street Brewery = FAIL

Service = -100 stars (perhaps the worst service ever)
Food = 2.75 stars (the fish was decent, but not great; fries were cold)
Value = 1.50 stars (extremely pricey for what we received)
MISC = 2.75 stars (place has potential, but vibe/service kills any hope)

Summary: I'm not sure if we hit them at a bad time, or if we drew a bad straw with the server, but I'd be hard-pressed to return to the Water Street Brewery. There has to be better fish offerings in the area... Thankfully I don't get to Milwaukee very often, so odds are that I won't be looking for a fish fry in that area any time soon.


ha - I was checking out a review of the new restaurant Cheezy's (that replaced O'Charley's) and I somehow ran into a review you did of JJ's lol. I saw Steve L. and said, "It has to be you." And is was.

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This page contains a single entry by Steve published on July 18, 2011 10:15 AM.

Fish Fry Review: Hering's Sand Bar, Lake Mills was the previous entry in this blog.

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird, it's a plane, it's me!!! is the next entry in this blog.

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