#1 Fish Fry in Burnett County for 2020
I had the pleasure last Friday night to go to the Best Fish Fry in Burnett County, WI, according to the Top Ten Must Do’s for 2020 on the Burnett County Fun website www.burnettcountyfun.com. Burnett County, in the Northwestern part of the state, has dozens of great restaurants with very good fish frys, so winning the top spot in the top ten is a privilege!
The Fish Bowl Bar & Grill is located 2 miles north of Danbury on Hwy 35. It has been there as long as I can remember. When I was a kid back in the ‘80s my family would visit the location several times each summer because there was a small zoo in the back yard displaying live wildlife including deer, bear, and other critters native to Wisconsin. The zoo is long gone, but the restaurant and bar are still there and doing well. I had not been there in a while, and had not tried the fish fry so I was excited to go last weekend when I was in the area.
My friend and I arrived at the restaurant around 7:30 pm and the parking lot was full, which was a good sign. Inside, we found that despite the number of patrons at the bar and in the dining room, there were still plenty of available tables to sit at. We chose a table in the dining room and were promptly greeted by a server who took our drink order and gave us a menu.
The Fish Bowl has a nice sized menu with a wide selection of food, including the traditional bar and grill fare as well as some interesting items such as fried raviolis, jumbo tater tots and honey glazed chicken breast. We could see at the tables around us that the diners were eating a wide variety of food. Many had fish on their plate, which was a good sign that the fish fry was going to be a good choice for dinner.
The fish served at this fish fry is tilapia, which is generally not my favorite fish. I have ordered it before at other restaurants, but was never impressed. Tilapia is a mild fish, with small flakes of meat in their filet (unlike the large flakes found in codfish for example). It is farmed, and is somewhat inexpensive compared to other popular commercial fish because it has a vegetarian diet and grows quickly. They produce nice-sized filets. However, a too-heavy breading or spicy seasoning can overpower the fish’s delicate flavor.
The tilapia at the fish bowl is prepared two different ways, lightly breaded and deep fried, and blackened (seasoned) and cooked on the grill-top. We ordered one plate of each preparation so we could share and try both ways. The meal comes with French fries or fried baby red potatoes and a trip to the salad bar or the Fish Bowl’s Duck and Wild Rice soup. We both chose the salad bar, although the soup sounds like something I will need to go back for to try some day.
The salad bar was expansive, with lettuce and the usual veggies and dressings, but also real bacon bits, ham, cottage cheese, boiled eggs, bread and butter pickles, and a few prepared salads such as coleslaw and macaroni salad. I like a good salad bar, so I was pleased. A person could eat just the salad bar at the Fish Bowl and walk away satisfied.
Although I was not expecting to love the fish, I have to say that I really did like it quite a lot. The fried fish was lightly dredged in a not-too-highly-seasoned flour coating which allowed for the delicate flavor of the fish to come through. It was not over-cooked, tender, and really quite good. The blackened version was good too, although I was not a big fan of the blackening spice, noting that the cumin in the spice mix was a little too prominent for both me and my dinner partner’s taste. But it was also not overly spicy, and the tilapia’s mild flavor was still allowed to come through. When I return, and I plan to, I will definitely get the fried tilapia again. I felt that the meal, with the salad bar included, was delicious and definitely worth the price.
If you go: The Fish Bowl Bar and Grill is located at 30799 State Road 35 77, 2 miles north of Danbury. They are open 7 days a week, but their hours vary. Check out their website at http://fishbowlbarwi.com/, or like them on Facebook for updates about their specials and events.
-Kim Wheeler | February 2020