It had been a few years since I stopped in at Kegel’s Inn – and my partner, who is not from these parts, had never been there – so we decided to stop in for the famous fish fry. On the way in I told him, and later posted this on Facebook, "If you don’t order the potato pancakes, we’re over."
Potato pancakes can range from thin and greasy to thick and dry, but Kegel’s version is none of that. They are medium in thickness, crispy and slightly salty.
Before we sat down to dinner, we sat at the bar, ordered an Old Fashioned, and chatted with bartender Julian Kegel. The Kegel family has owned the bar and restaurant – located at 5901 W. National Ave. – since 1924, when it opened as a "soft drink parlor." Hence the windows were frosted to cover up the fact whiskey and beer were sold – for 20 and 15 cents respectively – and came with a free meal.
Today, the bar is owned by Ron and Jim Kegel, and it still looks and feels like an Old World German pub featuring dark wood, leaded and stained glass, an impressive beer stein collection and painted slogans and pictures on the walls, many of which include monkeys drinking beer or playing cards.
Fish fry options include a four or six-piece cod dinner ($11.50 or $12.95); lake perch, ($15.50); walleye ($13.50); blue gill ($13.50); baked cod loin ($13.50); jumbo shrimp ($13.50) or a seafood platter ($15.50). All come with choice of potato (as if there’s a choice!), cole slaw and rye bread.
We went in for the lake perch and the baked cod loin. Ordering a baked instead of fried fish plate can often be a dry, tasteless buzzkill, but this was the best baked fish we’d ever had with moist yet flaky pieces of fish lightly coated with a tangy seasoning. The lake perch was also very good and well breaded – not soggy or too fishy.
If you haven’t been to Kegel’s, or haven’t been there in a while, go. And not just for the potato pancakes.
To further tempt you, here are seven reasons a Kegel's trip should be in your future:
1. The attentive staff comprised of Kegels and non-Kegels
2. The potato pancakes!!!
3. The naughty monkey murals
4. The lively scene
5. The baked fish (if that's your thing)
6. The Old Fashioned – sour or sweet
7. The chance to say hi to Julian Kegel. (Hi, Julian!)
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.