Fish Fry Review: The Draft House

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Date of review: Friday, January 27, 2012

When one of my co-workers suggested that I join him and his brother for a fish fry, I resisted. I had been rock-solid with my 100-day commitment to not cheat on my diet - hadn't missed a beat. I was afraid that a fish fry might push me into the land of temptation... the thought of crispy, beer-battered, deep fried cod (or perch or walleye or blue gill) sent my tastebuds-a-watering...

When I learned they were heading to Verona to visit the Draft House, I checked online to see what type of fish options were available; I saw the usual suspects - cod, perch, walleye, and baked fish. Hmmm... this sounded like it might have potential. I could sample the fried varietals while using the baked as my mainstay. And so, I decided to join them.

10 minutes after the Friday quittin' time whistle sounded, I found myself in Verona, searching for a parking spot at the packed Draft House. Once inside, I was a bit shocked by the Draft House - it was quite large, featuring two floors and a separate dining area. It was crowded, busy, and loud, but we put in our name for a table. After a quick stop at the bar for a round of beverages, we settled-in at a high-top table and waited.

Our wait was short-lived; a table in the dining area opened-up and we were promptly seated. The waitress was expedient and extremely friendly - she shared the fish specials, the sides, and the soup options. One of the soups caught my attention: the vegetable beef barley. I placed an order for a cup; she sped-off to grab an appetizer (spinach artichoke dip) and the soup.

Within minutes she returned, appetizer, soup and a soda-refill in hand (she was good!). The soup was fantastic - it featured large chunks of tender beef, and rough-cut, root-style vegetables, with just a hint of barley. I sampled some of the artichoke dip and it was absolutely superb - very delicious. The dip was warm and creamy, and came in a large, whole-wheat bread bowl with a generous side of veggies.

We placed our fish orders; baked fish with baby-red potatoes for me, lake perch with hashbrowns for Chris and his brother. We chatted a bit; I waited for my soup to cool while they enjoyed the spinach dip.

Time must have flown-by, because before we knew it, our fish orders were presented, and I still had 3/4 of my soup left. I cast the soup aside and took a quick picture of the baked fish:

DH_baked.JPG

As you can see from the photo, the baked cod was accompanied by the obligatory dinner roll, coleslaw, and drawn butter. The baby-reds are lurking just beneath the roll.

The baked fish was excellent - very delicate and fresh tasting; not a hint of fishiness or wateriness. The fish was firm and flaky; you could break it into perfect bite-sized pieces with only the side of your fork. The baby-reds were decent; a tad buttery and a tad overcooked, but passable without complaint. I didn't sample the roll or the slaw.

Everyone else's deep-fried perch looked like this plate:

DH_perch.JPG

I was fortunate enough to snag an entire piece of the freshwater perch to sample, and boy am I glad that I did. The batter was expertly applied - it clung to the fish with amazing strength, and offered just a hint of chewiness with an excellent crunch. The batter itself was tasty - perhaps its because I had gone 30-days without a beer, but the beer flavor was obvious, as was a touch of salt and pepper. The perch was excellent; just a slight hint of fish-flavor (enough to remind you this was fish you were enjoying), and a nice, firm texture.

I didn't sample the hashbrowns, but am told they were excellent.

I could've easily polished off all of the lake perch on the table, along with my baked cod.

The waitress stopped-by a few times to make sure we were doing ok; she offered dessert, but we passed. I had another refill of my diet soda before settling-up my tab, which came to just under $15. Well worth it, in my book.

The Draft House = WIN

Food = 3.75 stars
Service = 4 stars
Value = 3.5 stars
MISC = 3.0 stars (sports-bar; loud; large; "cold" feeling)

In summary, this visit to the Draft House was quite excellent. It's getting hard to say exactly where fish frys should "land" in the rankings; based on this visit, I would say it may have been a top-10 visit... but there are so many stellar fish frys... I'm going to struggle with the overall placement. Suffice it to say, you could do much worse than the Draft House for your next Friday night venture.

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This page contains a single entry by Steve published on February 11, 2012 8:38 PM.

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