This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

Culinary no-no #316

Culinary no-no's



Imagine you’re at a party of 50 guests and each one is asked to divulge his/her favorite...


Friday night fish fry.

Guaranteed you’ll get 50 different responses.

For me, two of the best are…

Karl Ratzch’s in downtown Milwaukee.They used to do a Sprecher beer-battered fish fry. Now they serve a Bavarian breaded haddock. I’m sure it’s just as delightful.



Served Family Style

Our fish is hand breaded and includes all of our bottomless, homemade sides.





Sides included are potato salad, coleslaw, fresh rye bread, French fries, potato pancakes, apple sauce & tartar sauce

Those locations are not that close to our humble Franklin abode so we like to hit Casa Di Giorgio and Mulligan's in Franklin and the Packing House near the airport.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's food critic Carol Deptolla and/or her editor had what they undoubtedly thought was a great idea for this past Friday's paper. Deptolla had solicited readers to submit their favorite fish fry spots and then would print some of their comments in the first Friday of Lent edition of her column.

Of course it got plenty of attention. I mean we're talking fish fries, a la the Green Bay Packers, a Wisconsin religion. I'll admit, I was hooked, and read every word of what had to be one of the most widely-read and popular articles in the paper that day.

But not everyone shared the same glee as Deptolla and/or her editor that this was such a fantastic concept, i.e., turning the column over to the reader/consumer.

One person wrote in on the comments section for the jsonline article:

"This isn't the list of best fish fries. This is the list of every place most people have heard of that happen to have fish fries."

And another offered this thoughtful analysis:

"Definition: The terms food critic, food writer, and restaurant critic can all be used to describe a writer who analyzes food or restaurants and then publishes the results of their findings.

"In the Weekend Cue this Friday under the title 'Hooked on fish fries' Ms. Deptola gives us a list of locations for fish fries in and around Milwaukee County. She does not critique each place and admits 'this was not a ranking or contest'. As indicated in the definition above she is, or should be, a writer who analyzes food or restaurants. In her column this week she does a great disservice to her reading public by taking the word of every Tom, Dick and Harry regarding 'good' places for fish fries. I would bet that many of the comments come from either the owner or chef of each location. Who knows?

"By naming all of these restaurants she is simply putting them out there with no concern for actual taste or even cleanliness (one of the restaurants on E. Layton Ave. was actually bashed a few months ago for Dirty Dining). She can claim that this was not a ranking or contest' yet her reputation as a 'critic' would seem to lend credibility to her list of places.

"I am a 70 year old lifetime resident of Milwaukee County and have dined out for fish fries almost every Friday for most of those years. I find it is a shame that she failed to include such fine dining locations as Maxi’s Southern Comfort, Country Squires on Janesville Rd. and the Weisgerbers Gast Haus. Were she to dine at these places I am sure she would have added them to her list but why bother to go out and dine when you can just solicit recommendations from the general public."

Good points. Very, very good points.

I had the occasion of walking through the kitchen of one of the highly rated fish fries by one of the comments and have never eaten there since and would never recommend it to anyone it was so attrocious.

If I'm not mistaken, a restaurant employee admitted in the past on the jsonline comments section that workers write in to self-promote their workplaces. I'm betting owners and chefs do the same.

Even though I don't dispute that readers soaked up Deptolla's column, there is a risk involved in handing over your column to the anonymous masses and then blindly re-printing their unchallenged endorsements.

I don't claim to understand the thought process of the people who run a failing newspaper that is losing circulation, but why would I want to put in print anyone's support for restaurants that are dirty, filthy, subjects of health violations?

Deptolla wrote in her Friday piece, "Usually as critic I make the rounds for weeks, trying to hit as many new or new-to-me fish fries as I can and recommending the best of the bunch to you on this first Friday of Lent, the kickoff to serious fish-fry season. This year, I decided to step back and let the regulars make the recommendations."

Some critics might call this "lazy" journalism. I know I would.

Look, I get the recognition of the popularity of social media. Hey, send me your favorite fish fry and I might print your comments in my next column! I get the whole concept of engaging the readers. And in Deptolla's defense, you could print five reviews of fish fries every Friday and not even scratch the surface of the abundance of wonderful options all over our great state.

But you are the supposed expert. You are the food critic.

She says she'll have something to say this coming Friday. The time for that was the preceding Friday.

How about next year for the Friday after Ash Wednesday the Journal Sentinel write a column about the 10, 20, 30 best fish fries in our area? Deptolla does it when it comes to the area's best restaurants. Why not fish fries? I would actually be more interested in that than what was printed this past Friday.

For many years, whenever a publication like the Milwaukee Magazine polls readers as to their favorite seafood restaurant, the Olive Garden wins hands down. Most popular? You bet. The best? No way.

That's why I prefer a review written by a critic who was hired to critique as opposed to the ramblings of dozens of anonymous roobs.


Don't trust those food labels.

Diners gone awry.

It's the most stolen food item.

Fashion plates.

Don't forget my wife's Culinary yes-yes blog.

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