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American Serb Hall Fish Fry - Milwaukee


Sweet Willie
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Buddy of mine and I met last night at the American Serb Hall fish fry, a legend of a fish fry place in Milwaukee or so I’ve been told by some clients of mine.

I had wanted to try the cod but my buddy’s all you can eat mentality screwed up my judgment and I too went along with his choice of the all you can eat Alaskan Pollack. Bad choice, just a so-so fish fry. I don’t know what I was thinking as I don’t enjoy all you can eat anyways.

I will give the fish fry at American Serb Hall another try but steer clear of the all you can eat, go for the quality. Everyone knows the best fish fry is cooking up fish that you have just caught.

http://www.serbhall.com/fishfry.asp

"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"
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As a former Milwaukee resident, I've had the fish fry at 'Serb Hall' a number of times (in addition to going to a couple of wedding receptions and bowling a few games). Quite and event on a Friday night during lent.

I do think that they do well for the number of patrons they serve on any given night but for the quality of the food, it is certainly not the best in town.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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As a former Milwaukee resident, I've had the fish fry at 'Serb Hall' a number of times (in addition to going to a couple of wedding receptions and bowling a few games).  Quite and event on a Friday night during lent.

I do think that they do well for the number of patrons they serve on any given night but for the quality of the food, it is certainly not the best in town.

Just don't say "the Turks do it better".

SB (Serbs have looooooooooong memories) :laugh:

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A short history of Wisconsin 'Fish Fries'!

Up until the last 20 years or so, Fish Fry in Wisconsin meant Lake Perch, mostly caught in Lake Michgan. Served with buttered rye bread and cole slaw and sometimes french fires, it was invariably delicious across the state. In Neenah Wisconsin it mostly came from one place and if you happened to be at someones elses house on a Friday evening, there was a good probabalilty that the fish came from that place. As the Lake Perch died out and eventually almost disappeared, Cod began to be used with good results. With the price of cod rising and the stocks dwindling, Pollock, the major constituent of Surimi is being used. Most fish fries are now not worth sampling. A sad sign of the times. -Dick

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A short history of Wisconsin 'Fish Fries'!

Up until the last 20 years or so, Fish Fry in Wisconsin meant Lake Perch, mostly caught in Lake Michgan. Served with buttered rye bread and cole slaw and sometimes french fires, it was invariably delicious across the state. In Neenah Wisconsin it mostly came from one place and if you happened to be at someones elses house on a Friday evening, there was a good probabalilty that the fish came from that place. As the Lake Perch died out and eventually almost disappeared, Cod began to be used with good results. With the price of cod rising and the stocks dwindling, Pollock, the major constituent of Surimi is being used. Most fish fries are now not worth sampling. A sad sign of the times. -Dick

While I agree that many a Friday Night Fish Fry in the Milwaukee (or Madison) area might not be worth eating, there are some that still offer Lake Perch and Cod. It is worth checking before you go to see what sort of fish they use. I've even seen seen bluegill at Palm Garden (not great at all).

Also, we haven't even touched on the coleslaw 'issues' with the fish fry. Tangy vinegar and oil based slaw? Creamy slaw?

Of course, that brings me to a question, where are these restaurants getting Lake Perch? Is there any commercial fishing in the Great Lakes? Or, is it similar to Walleye where it is coming from Canada?

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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I assume the lake perch is coming from Canada but the stuff in the restaurants could be coming from anywhere and be anything. Much that is for sale in grocery stores has been adulterated with preservatives. The only place I purchase lake perch from is Grash's in Brookfield.-Dick

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What about smelt?  Are they no longer on the fish fry menus?

Simple answer is: rarely.

In the eyes of the current-day Milwaukee restaurant, smelt (sometimes, smelts) and fish fry seem to be two different animals. Smelt can still be seen on some Milwaukee menus in the spring but as a sort of specialty item unrelated to the regular fish fry. Sightings of good fried smelt seems to be getting rarer. Sad.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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Smelt needs to be absolutely fresh and is best when it is cooked as soon as possible after being caught. That is the reason for the smelt cooking on the lake shore after netting. I don't know what causes it but it changes in taste. We only eat smelt when we can catch them ourselves and serve the same day. -Dick

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