JJ Fish and Chicken
Update 12/27/12: JJ Fish and Chicken is closed.
In a word: All things considered, it's probably better than Popeye's... but only just.
Latest JJ Fish and Chicken news and reviews
JM ate the chicken nugget meal and hush puppies with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the wings and catfish combo and okra with a diet 7-Up (seemed to be in the spirit).
The bill was $23, or $11.50/person.
JM gave JJ Fish and Chicken a B+; Nichole gave JJ Fish and Chicken a C+ (see our grading rubric).
We couldn't find much official online evidence of JJ Fish and Chicken other than a slightly disparaging thread on TDPF (and, of course, the recent article at Isthmus that scooped us - *grin*). Twenty-nine entries in the public library's RefUSA national business database (seven of which are in the Chicago area), a Chowhound thread that mentions an East Oakland location and refers to JJ being "originally from Chicago," plus the hometown pride in this YouTube tribute to the JJ on Cicero, seem to point to JJ being a Chicago-based chain, though it's hard to tell; Linda says they come from New Orleans, but we can't find one there. Our friends in the neighborhood simply call JJ's - frankly, and with a little chagrin - a "ghetto chain." This seems a little harsh to us. We'd prefer to call it a sign of the increasing and much-needed diversity of Madison.
JJ Fish and Chicken definitely has a big city feel to it, as part of a strip mall on busy E Wash. Bass-bumping Fergie mixes and album cuts boomed over the system during our visit. We were the only people staying to eat in; a slow but steady trickle of customers picked up food to go.
The menu at JJ is absolutely huge. We settled on our choices (chicken nuggets, wings, catfish, hush puppies, and okra) and the two patient guys behind the counter set to deep-frying everything up for us. There may be non-fried options on the menu but we didn't find them. Our mountain of food was ready in about 10 minutes. We hadn't realized the meals came with fries, and may still be eating JJ's leftovers as this post goes to press.
The best items, we agreed, were the hush puppies. No bland New England cornballs here. These had some kick to them, a bit of jalapeño pepper, that you could further heat up with a dip in the side of hot sauce. The thick-cut and lightly battered fries, as well as the crunchy, tangy slaw, were also quite good.
The rest of the meal was just average. The outside of the nuggets, wings, and okra, which were already salty to begin with, were inexplicably dusted with more fine movie-theatre-popcorn style salt. (Salt in the batter + salt on the top = hypertension?) The nuggets were little more than a vehicle for barbecue sauce. We each discovered two slices of toasted-on-one-side white bread underneath our piles of protein and half expected to turn and see Murphy and Marini working in back. (This is a reference to a film called The Blues Brothers that you should probably see.)
The catfish was the true bottom-feeder of this meal. A strange cleaning-solvent flavor permeated the taste and led Nichole to sadly ditch the fish after two bites.
The desserts on display included classics like banana pudding brought in from a place on Cottage Grove Rd. They came in generous portions and looked promising, but, at half a meal each, we were too full to try them.
Though this meal was average, swimming (or clucking, we guess) somewhere in the huge menu at JJ may be a gem; we just didn't fish it out this time.