Travel, History & Culture in America's Dairyland



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Fish Frys

Loose Change, Sweet Fish 
Wendt's On The Lake, Van Dyne 

Ask folks in Fond du Lac or Oshkosh about a good fish fry in their respective cities and they'll say you have to leave town. classicwisconsin finds this deeply disturbing. Let others discuss the ramifications of insane deer, of felons in the statehouse, of wear-a-bag-it's-so-bad Brewers baseball. Such are not the concerns of classicwisconsin. Like Bob Dylan said of classicwisconsin when classicwisconsin was just 4 years old: This is not our fate.

Finding The Fish Fry is, and the good fish-eatin' folks of Fond du Lac and Oshkosh, people who reside on the shores of Wisconsin's largest inland lake, are beating a path out of town faster than Winona Ryder at Saks Fifth Avenue.

One classicwisconsin source, a longtime resident of Oshkosh, we'll call him Mike M., because that's his name, Mike M., thought hard about Oshkosh fish frys before reaching back to his earlier days and coming up with the Roxy, a place on Main St. "Years ago," he reminisced, "that was a place to go to pick up some loose change, if you know what I mean."

Given a choice between loose change and fish frys, classicwisconsin believes fish frys don't taste nearly as fishy. No offense to Oshkosh -- classicwisconsin will return when the drunken riots are in season. 

Where the hell is everybody going?
Wendt's on the Lake, that's where, located on Highway 45 between Fondy and Oshkosh in the Van Dyne township. (It's worth noting that leafy, unincorporated hamlet of Van Dyne is home to an outstanding vintage gas station/general store, and the town seems to lack that subtle yet ominous undercurrent of desperation found in many small communities.) Van Dyne is located on Highway 175, a couple miles west of Wendt's.

Wendt's is a non-descript lakeside tavern with big fish nailed to the walls, including a butt-ugly sturgeon (redundancy alert: duh, all sturgeon are butt-ugly). The Wendt family has owned the place for more than 40 years.

Parking is found in back between the lawn and the lake. You'll also find some picnic tables (covered, nice touch) where the aroma of the deep fryers mingles harmoniously with the summertime algae. You can wander around outside with your brandy Old Fashioned or Millers High Life in hand; if the bullhorn is broken, the waitresses step out the back door and call your name when the table is ready. This is what classicwisconsin considers living large, dear subscriber.

Speaking of fish slinging honeys, Wendt's should hold a seminar for the hospitality industry. You'll find no better service around Lake Winnebago. classicwisconsin was treated like an old friend on its maiden visit.

Have we talked about fish? Have we talked about water bottles full of tartar sauce? We have not, and this is where Wendt's knocks it out of the ballpark faster than you can say the Brewers tanked again.

Wendt's is proud of its perch -- more than 50 images of the tasty fish are swimming across the menu. Choose your serving by the ounce: 5, 10, 15, and 30-damn ounce portions. Saturday night offers perch & prime rib combos. Smelt all the time.

Then the waitress brings you your very own squeezable bottle of tartar sauce, like the sports bottles that bikers use on the Tour de France, except you probably won't be biking through the Alps after 30 ounces of perch and three Millers, but you can throw your head back and squeeze tartar sauce into your mouth until revitalized for the next leg of your journey. That'll get you back to Oshkosh. Magnifique!

Wendt's, a good and true fish joint: Friendly service, perch, algae, perch, sports bottles full of tartar sauce, perch, hideous sturgeon on the wall, perch, perch, perch & prime rib.

More fish...



One fish:
What did you expect from a couple of deep fryers and a bag of frozen cod? At least they tried.

Two fish:
For a Friday night it's better than eating fish sticks on your couch.

Three fish:
Typical Wisconsin fish fry at a supper club or tavern. Involves a crowded bar and a Packers schedule on the wall (extra credit if the game scores are filled-in).

Four fish:
Member, classicwisconsin Shanty of Fame. An irresistible combination of atmosphere and fish.




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