"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee is brought to you by Miller Brewing Company, calling Milwaukee home since 1855. For the entire month of March, we're serving up fun articles on bars, clubs and beverages – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews, the results of our Best of Bars poll and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
In this series, we're trying out some of the city's most popular fish fries. You'll find commentary, pro tips and ratings of the three staples of a classic Wisconsin fry: namely the fish, the potato pancakes and the classic Wisconsin-style brandy old fashioned. View all fish fry reviews here.
68th Street Pub
6800 W. Layton Ave.
I'm not sure how long the 68th Street Pub has been a fixture on Layton Avenue, but I’m going to guess a very long time. At heart, it’s a classic corner tavern, complete with carpeted walls that mimic the look of parquet flooring, a digital jukebox, a number of gambling machines and plenty of the expected beer paraphernalia hanging on the walls. Micro rope lights offer a festive glow.
It’s a quaint spot with space for about 20 people. When we arrived on a Wednesday evening, there were locals drinking beer at the bar and a table of two enjoying a fish fry in the dining room. They bill themselves as the "home of the best fish fry and tenderloin steak sandwich," so my expectations were set fairly high.
Fish fry is served on both Wednesday and Friday evenings. Options include beer battered cod ($11.50), beer battered walleye ($15.95), breaded shrimp ($13.95), breaded coconut shrimp ($14.50), cod and shrimp ($13.95), walleye and shrimp ($14.95), cod, walleye and shrimp ($15.95) baked cod ($12.50), baked cod and shrimp ($15.95), breaded catfish ($13.50), or breaded crab cakes ($13.25). Each plate comes with buttered marble rye bread, a choice of potato (French fries, potato salad or potato pancakes) and coleslaw.
The walleye plate contained two large walleye fillets. They were covered with a light crisp beer batter that was about as classic as it comes. Meanwhile, the flesh of the fish was firm, but tender with a nice flavor.
My dining companion ordered the cod and shrimp combo, which included three small to mid-sized butterflied shrimp with a crisp breadcrumb coating and three pieces of cod. The fish was tender and the batter was crisp and light, very much like the walleye.
I wouldn't say it was "the best" I’ve ever had, but it passed muster. It actually reminded me of the fish I recall eating in my youth when my family went out for the occasional Friday night fish fry. So, it got a good half-point extra for the nostalgia factor.
The potato pancakes
On the other hand, the potato pancakes did not remind me of the fish fries of yore. Alas, they were not housemade; rather, they were the crisp almost-flower-shaped hashbrown-style cakes typical of those found at a variety of restaurants around town. Nothing horrible, but nothing special either.
The old fashioned
Meanwhile, the old fashioned was solid. It was moderately sweet with a good brandy presence and a touch of bitters. There was no visible muddled fruit, but there was a double maraschino cherry garnish.
Got suggestions for our next fish fry? Email email@example.com with your suggestions. Suggested fish fry menus must include lake fish (walleye, perch), potato pancakes and a stellar old fashioned.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.