Blog : Delavan

South Shore Bar Fish Fry Review

South Shore Bar Fish Fry Review

I was born in Elkhorn. Raised in Williams Bay. Then I lived in Linn Township, Geneva Township, Delavan Township, Fontana, and now Walworth Township. I am the embodiment of local. The word was made for me. If I’m not a local here, no one is a local anywhere. I was in France last week, being a non-local. If not for my strapping American frame and my obvious American nature, I might, after some lengthy period of time, be considered, at least by some, as a local.  This business of localness typically requires significant effort and significant time.  Last Friday night I walked in to the South Shore Bar and Grill on Delavan’s southern shore, feeling very much not like a local.

I’ve been to this bar before, or I should say, at least once before. I went with a friend for pizza on a night when our wives weren’t looking. On that night, I generally enjoyed the pizza, which is tavern style. But on this night, I was there for the fish fry, and the parking lot sign proclaimed that I was indeed at the right place. I should say that I didn’t intend to visit the South Shore Bar that night. I first went to the Rushing Waters Trout House restaurant in Delavan. The restaurant there is very large, and when we walked in we were delighted to see open tables and no one waiting. The hostess told us there would be a 20-30 minute wait. But there were open tables, I replied, incredulous in my tone. She said there weren’t enough servers. And so we left. This is embarrassing for the Trout House, and if I were in any position of authority there I’d quickly right my ship before all of this excess water sinks it.

The South Shore Bar and Grill is a bar. There’s a large bar in the main room, with a small dining room off to the West side. When we arrived the parking lot was full and so was the restaurant. We were told the wait would be maybe 10 minutes, so we stood by the door, sticking out like very sore thumbs. Eyes glanced our direction. At least one man at the bar whispered something to another man at the bar. It might have been about my powder blue shorts, but I couldn’t be certain. A man on the other side of the bar drank from a tall can of Busch Light. His wife nursed a cocktail.  Everyone knew each other, no one knew us. If it weren’t for the Wisconsin law, I’m guessing 40% of the bar would have been pulling on a heater.

A polite but somewhat harried hostess led us to our booth. The booth cushion on the one side was torn open in many spots, so I opted for the other side. But the other side had very little breathing room, and the table was affixed to the wall, a condition I only realized after pushing and tugging at it for a while. I switched with my son and sat on the torn side. I reviewed my fishy options.

All you can eat fried cod, $11.50. Baked cod dinner, $11.50. Pan Fried Walleye, $15.95. Fried Walleye, $15.95. Fried Perch Dinner, $15.95. These are fine options. Impressive really, for a small bar on the way to no-where, just around the corner from Nothing. The menu reflected a general understanding of the Wisconsin Fish Fry. All items were served with a  side of potato and access to the small salad bar that resided in between the bar and the dining room. I asked the waitress what she recommended. The fried walleye was a bit bland for her taste. She loved the perch. I opted for the fried cod, with a piece of baked cod for good measure.

The salad bar was modest. A few bowls of mayonnaise based salad of some variety, along with some lettuce, chopped onion and tomato, and shredded cheese. I could have used a few more accoutrements, but seeing as how I was at a bar for fish fry, I didn’t mind. If you wanted a salad bar, you should have gone to a salad restaurant. This was a fried food restaurant with a side of pizza, and I was content to nibble a bit of salad and wait for my fish. After a week  of French food,  my stomach was hankering for some classic Wisconsin fish fry.

And the South Shore Bar didn’t disappoint. The fried cod came out, two pieces with my initial order, and it was delightful. The batter was well seasoned, and the fish was moist, sweet, and salty. I really loved it. The baked was a bit dry, but it was served with a small plastic tub of drawn butter, and that made everything better. There was a single slice of rye bread on my plate, which was awful as expected but it was buttered so how terrible could it really be? Give me liberty or give me death, but if you’re going to give me rye bread you should at least butter it for me.

The two potato pancakes were nicely fried to a golden brown, and while they were a touch dry, they met the expectation of an average pancake.  I quickly ate all of my food and asked for a few more pieces of fried cod, not because I was hungry but because I refuse to walk away from an all-you-can-eat dinner offering without ordering seconds. The cod was again delightful, even if my second piece was thicker and ended up being slightly undercooked.  My wife said the tartar sauce was okay, and I found the applesauce to be delicious. It was served ice cold, and had immense flavor. It was, perhaps, my favorite applesauce to date.

I enjoyed my dinner at the South Shore Bar and Grill.  The waitress was sweet and attentive, the food above average for this tour. The fried cod was a real treat, as the seasoned batter elevated otherwise bland cod to a higher level. I’d add the South Shore Bar to your Fish Fry rotation, especially if your preferred joint is slammed this summer.  I left feeling satisfied in my dinner, and had it not been for those powder blue shorts and my wife’s white jeans, we might have fit right in.

 

South Shore Bar and Grill 7/10

W6763 South Shore Drive, Delavan, WI

$11.50 All You Can Eat Fried Cod

 

The Village Supper Club Fish Fry Review

The Village Supper Club Fish Fry Review

From Friday to Friday, one side of Delavan Lake to the other, I turned into the parking lot at the Village Supper Club at 5 pm sharp. Early, you say. Necessary, I reply. The prior week I tried to eat here at 6 pm but was faced with a 30 minute wait, so I made a concerted effort to arrive early. Such a popular place for Friday fish must be worth that minor sacrifice.

This is a supper club, much in the same vein as Anthony’s or the Big Foot Inn. The foyer is dark, a requirement of supper club design. If you invite me to your supper club and the foyer is brightly lit I’m going to suggest what you’ve actually got there is a restaurant, not a supper club. The hostess was pleasant and walked us past the bar, around a salad bar, and to our table in the front room, facing the lake. There are a series of dining rooms here, but only two face the water. That’s where we were seated, with a nice view of Delavan Lake, if such a thing exists.

The waitress quickly brought our waters and I inquired about the fish fry. She was a pleasant woman, and excitedly told us about the fish. She knew what we wanted. $13.75 for all you can eat fried cod, served family style. Broiled is single serve. Choice of potato pancakes or french fries, along with the usual sides. The kids fish fry was only $9.25.  I ordered the fried cod, with a side of broiled, and that, was that.

There’s nothing much to consider when seated at the Village Supper Club awaiting your fish. So we spent a few blank minutes and were quickly presented with our dinner. It almost felt like we received our food too quickly. Without any delay there is no anticipation, without anticipation there are no pangs of developing hunger, without hunger there is no relief.  A heaping plate of fried cod, a side of broiled cod,  a plate of potato pancakes, some fries for the kids,  applesauce, tartar sauce, coleslaw, along with a sliced loaf of bread. At first blush the fish looked good, the potato pancakes looked odd, and the bread sported the tell-tale blistering that results from some time spent in the microwave.

I was immediately drawn to the unique potato pancake. It was pillow shaped, fried to a quite dark brown, and softer than a typical pancake. The texture of the potato was not shredded, but rather riced, creating a mouthfeel not at all like a potato pancake.  It was oddly sweet, and I couldn’t quite tell if I was eating a potato pancake or some sort of hush puppy with some potato bits thrown in.  That distinction shouldn’t ever be blurred.  Excepting Pier 290’s dried out saw-dust pancake, this was my least favorite pancake I’ve eaten this year. Perhaps it’s an acquired taste, but I have little time to spend suffering through that acquisition.

The fried cod was good. The batter crunchy, the filet appropriately shaped. I didn’t mind the fried fish. The broiled piece was a thick rectangle served with a side of drawn butter and a lemon wedge. I will always appreciate a pot of butter on my plate, no matter how tough and bland the cod might be. And the cod was both.  The bread, with those microwaved skin blisters, was chewy, as microwaved bread tends to be.  The flavor was good, but how can you expect me to enjoy this sort of bread served with cold foiled butter? You can’t, and I didn’t.  The applesauce was bland and too smooth. The tartar sauce, my wife said, was fine, but a bit sweet. We didn’t ask for seconds of anything, and within 30 minutes the whole ordeal was over. Two adult fish fries, two kids fish fries, and a side of cod ($1.95): $60.59 with tip.

While we walked out a steady stream of hungry patrons poured in. Do these people not know what good fish fry tastes like? Are they unaware that a much better dinner exists on the other side of that shallow lake?  When it comes to fish fry, often tradition takes first place in deciding where to go. Tradition can outweigh good food any day of the week, especially on a Friday. Thankfully I have no tradition to obstruct my objectivity. The restaurant is blah. It’s a classic supper club, but it isn’t quite dated enough or cheesy enough to win my affection. The fried cod was meh. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. The potato pancake was more a potato hushpuppy, and I cannot abide such an interpretation. The bread was blah, the butter foiled. The applesauce? Blah.

The Village might be one of the most popular places to eat fried fish on a Friday in Wisconsin, but that Friday visit will count as my first and my last.

The Village Supper Club  3/10

$13.75 All You Can Eat Fried Cod

1725 South Shore Drive, Delavan, WI

Walworth County Market Update

Walworth County Market Update

When you’re a Realtor, you’re supposed to want to do everything you can to sell anything you can. You’re supposed to pay attention to every segment within your market, to the goings on in the rental world, to the commercial things, to vacant land and to that cute bungalow in town. The one near the school.  Realtors are told to be experts. In the next breath, they’re told to be always available, always present, always here for whomever it is that requires service. This is all a terrible mistake, and not coincidentally, this desire to do all things is the reason that most agents can’t achieve success.

Now, take this guy on the other hand. I don’t really want to do any business that isn’t the sort of business I want. If you own a wonderful apartment building in Elkhorn, I’m super happy for you. But I don’t know enough about the rental market in Elkhorn and the desired returns of that particular investor community, so I can’t (and won’t) successfully work with you. I’m not a commercial guy. In the same way, I don’t know anything about the single family housing market in Darien. I heard it’s okay. Taxes are high. That’s all I know, and as such, you wouldn’t be doing yourself any favor if you were to wish for my services in Darien.

The benefit of this narrow focus is as obvious as the detriment. I am not all things to all markets. I’m all things to one market. That’s my goal, and that’s my life, and I’ve made a decent little living serving only one master. But today isn’t about me, no matter how well I’ve done so far to leave you with that impression. Today is about the broad Walworth County market. Today isn’t about Lake Geneva, it’s about everywhere else. The markets in these other areas are thriving. Absolutely, positively, thriving.

Want to buy a little cottage on Cherry Street in Williams Bay for less than $200k? So did someone else. The house is pending. Want to buy a vinyl ranch in Lakewood Trails? Yeah, so does everyone else. Feel like a little starter house in Delavan for $69k? Too late. It sold. How’s about a late 80s raised ranch, complete with some sort of brown brick and a mismatched brown roof? Pending.  Delavan is doing well, except on the lakefront, where there appears to be just one home pending sale today. Earlier, I meant to say everywhere is going fantastic, except Delavan Lake.

Want to find a reasonably decent house on 3-5 acres in the country somewhere? Nowhere in particular, just somewhere around here-ish?  Ideally under $400k. Good luck! Those homes are selling at a feverish pace, and inventory is low.  Darien has 14 homes available, five are under contract.  Elkhorn has 34 homes for sale. 18 of those are under contract. Nine others are pending sale.  That’s absolutely remarkable if you think about it. Amazing, really. Well done, sub-$250k buyer. You’re buying, and you’re smart.

Why is the primary market here doing so well?  It’s thriving today because the prices are still modest, still reasonable, still affordable. The interest rates are low but rising, and this market is super sensitive to rates, and to the threat of increased monthly costs. The primary market is performing well, but over $350k that strength dries up. Consider the city of Lake Geneva, where 40 homes are available today. Of those 40, 25 are priced under $350k. Of those 25,  ten are under contract. Another four are pending.  Over $350k? Not a single under contract or pending sale.

And all of that makes solid sense. The primary housing market is driven by those people who work here, and most of the jobs in a resort market are the sorts of jobs that can support home ownership on a modest level. A nice Walworth County job can buy a $275k colonial on a lot that was home to corn not so long ago, but most Walworth County jobs cannot support purchases over $350k.  But this isn’t about jobs and it isn’t about interest rates and it isn’t about me. It’s just about the primary housing market, and today I tip my hat to a vibrant market segment that I have absolutely nothing to do with.

 

Photo courtesy Kristen Westlake.