"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. Since March is Bar Month, we'll be focusing on area watering holes that serve up Wisconsin-style fish fries. View all fish fry reviews here.
Kam’s Thistle & Shamrock
3430 N. 84th St.
Having opened in 2015, Kam's Thistle & Shamrock is a relative newcomer to the West Side bar scene. However, in just a few short years, the Celtic themed pub and eatery has made a name for itself.
In part it’s the bar’s jovial atmosphere – reminiscent of a northwoods tavern – which attracts neighborhood regulars with its reasonably priced pints. But it’s also the bar menu, which boasts scratch-made items including pizza, soups and sandwiches, house-braised corned beef and hand rolled mozzarella sticks.
The fish fry menu has both breadth and depth, showcasing 12 types of fish in various preparations. Options include pollock, catfish, cod, haddock, smelt, northern pike, shrimp, salmon, bluegill, lake perch, rainbow trout and walleye (priced $9.95 to $16.95). Combo plates are also available, featuring two half-orders of fish for $13.95 or $16.95, depending on selections). Each fish fry comes with marble rye, coleslaw and a choice of potato (french fries, baked potato, potato pancakes or Thistle Chips). Loaded baked potatoes are also available for an additional $2.50.
With so many types of fish from which to choose, it only made sense to opt for combination plates so that we could try a number of varieties. Among them, it was difficult to pick a favorite, since every single one was well-portioned, tasty and well executed.
Among the lake fish options, we sampled the perch, walleye and Northern Pike. The perch was lightly dusted with seasoned flour and fried. It was ultra crisp, delightfully seasoned and perfectly cooked, leaving the texture of the fish tender and flavorful.
The walleye came with a slightly thicker, but very similar breading. It was well seasoned, tender and flavorful. In fact, I’d rank it among the best I’ve had.
The northern pike is naturally a more firm, flavorful fish. And it shone in the light, flavorful breading, which showcased its tender, meaty flesh.
Meanwhile the cod, which had a similar breading to the walleye, was also spot-on with its crisp well-seasoned exterior and a tender flaky interior that showcased the best of what cod can be.
The potato pancakes
The pancakes are mid-sized and irregularly shaped, and they taste much like the pancakes I remember my mother making while I was growing up. Our came to the table steaming hot with crisp edges and a slightly dense texture. They’re well-seasoned with a potato-forward flavor that’s balanced with just a hint of green onion. They are served up with either applesauce or maple syrup, and it’s worthwhile to note that the latter is real maple syrup (not the maple-flavored corn syrup so often served in its stead).
The old fashioned
Balanced and warmingly spirited, this was a solid example of a well-constructed Wisconsin old fashioned. The muddled fruit offered up a fair amount of citrus, while a healthy dose Angostura bitters balanced out the sweetness.
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.