Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Big Ten Pub - Madison, WI

The deal: The first thing to do when you step inside the Jordan's Big Ten Pub is check out the chalkboard behind the bar. That's where you'll see the huge variety of available fish as well as the catch of the day. On my visit, the options included lemon pepper grilled walleye, lightly breaded bluegill or perch, a variety of fish sandwiches as well as good old-fashioned beer battered cod. The catch of the day was intriguing: jerk swordfish over pineapple rice. The cod was $9.95, while most of the other choices were $11.50 or so. All of that includes soup or a salad, roll and choice of potato. What's exciting about the Big Ten Pub is that it's to my knowledge the only place in Madison that offers potato pancakes with applesauce. Why hasn't that caught on around here?

The food: Although I was curious about the swordfish, for authenticity's sake, I went with the cod. I got two big pieces of fish. They were a little of the greasy side, but they were still pretty crispy. The flavor was good, but not great. My dining companions had the bluegill and perch. Both plates were full of lightly breaded fish. I thought the bluegill was a little flavorless. The perch was more successful and a little crispier, but not as good as the cod. What was incredibly good were the potato pancakes. These were no flimsy sides! The pancakes were dense and complex with a crust fried to dark golden brown perfection. Add a little applesauce and you've got a meal.

No one at my table opted for soup, but we all agreed that the salads were better than you'd expect in a bar - not a piece of iceberg lettuce in the bunch (although, to be honest, I really like iceberg lettuce).

If you dine after 8, you can also take advantage of some good drink specials, like 2 for 1 Long Island Ice Teas. Oh sure, it's not an Old Fashioned, but it'll sure do the trick.

The flavor: During football season, the Big Ten hosts one of Madison's liveliest beer garden scenes. Let's be honest, the fish fry isn't that exciting. No one's gonna take her top off (although those pancakes are damn good...). But, it's still a sports bar and on many a winter Friday night the place is packed with fans getting in some fish and a beer before a Badger hockey game. It's loud and crowded, but the staff is fast and friendly enough to make it an enjoyable experience.

Second opinions

Badger Herald
Fish Fry Madison
Eating in Madison A to Z
Beer Advocate
Madison Fish Fry


nichole said...

Those potato pancakes sound great! Not sure if it counts (being a breakfast chain and all) but Original Pancake House serves theirs with applesauce, sour cream or both. I do love me some Food Fight potato-zucchini pancakes with (I think?) cranberry-apple sauce...

Kris said...

Oh heck yeah it counts! All week I've been thinking about going to the Big Ten again and seeing if I can just get the pancakes. There's just nothing like a good potato pancake. Mmmm...

Marge said...

I don't like fish. However, I love going to the Big 10 on Friday to get the potato pancakes. They also have a good selection of beer. The rest of the food is nothing special as far as I am concerned.

siri said...

The BIG 10 is a great place for all ages! Yes the potato pancakes are the best, but so is everything on their menu.The fish fry is FAB-U-LOUS!!!!! So many choices and you can't go wrong with any of them...delicous each and every one. The menu is plentifull with something for everyone! I have never had a bad meal, ever!!! Great drink selection...beers, wines.....You can't go wrong with the BIG 10!!! Staff is super friendly, and they give you excellent service no matter how busy they are!!! YOU JUST CAN'T GO WRONG with eating at the BIG 10 PUB!!!! TRY IT, believe me you will love it! Be sure to come with an appetite!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments! We are always looking to improve and now I know what to focus on. I hope you enjoy the changes and improvements that coming.

Gavril said...

I love Jordan's Big Ten Pub fried fish. I never get it without the beer though. Have to have a good beer with fried fish.