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JM ate the perch fry with fries and a lemonade.
Nichole ate the Stamm tips moutarde with a baked potato, seafood chowder, key lime pie, and an old fashioned.
The bill was $44, or $22/person, plus tip.
JM gave Stamm House a B; Nichole gave Stamm House a B+ (see our grading rubric).
In late October 2010, Madison was abuzz with the newest restaurants downtown, including Underground Kitchen, Nostrano and 43 North. By contrast we headed west for a Friday night dinner at Stamm House, Dane County's oldest tavern, with a colorful history (according to a framed copy of a story by Maureen Miller) as a likely stop on the Underground Railroad, a community center/library, and stagecoach stop before coordinates were commonplace. Stamm House stands as proof that Middleton was here first.
We'd been there BAZ (before A to Z) - in fact, Stamm House is often cited to us as the best fish fry around. Relatives of a library mentor run the place, so that also warmed us to it. However, it had been a long time and a lot of fish under the broiler, so we were concerned that our memories were fuzzy with fondness, or that our tastes had changed, and weren't sure what to expect. What we found was still a solid choice for fish fry and straightforward old-school supper club choices in a cozy, if slightly grimy and dim, setting.
Dinner started with warm crusty rolls, pumpernickel or white. For him, there was a very fresh and lightly dressed coleslaw that was almost certainly not scooped from a plastic tub. For her, a tomato and seafood chowder was outstanding, with salmon and zucchini and a good bit of dill. Sadly our second server (they'd changed midstream) whisked it away with a good bit left in the cup; Nichole almost reached behind her to grab it off the wobbly bus tub but by then the entrees had arrived.
The Stamm tips moutarde were bites of beef flambeed in brandy and served in a dijon sour cream sauce. We wouldn't necessarily recommend the dish to anyone other than fans of retro recipes. The sauce was excellent, but the beef was pretty chewy, contributing to the prolonged monotony of the dish (another reason to opt for salad or at least hang on to your soup).
The all-you-can-eat fish fry is served family style. Since JM was the only orderer at the table, he was worried he'd have to eat enough for a family. The first order was comprised of five very large pieces of perch in a simple cornbread batter. The perch were quite piscine-flavored, which made him sort of wish he'd gotten the cod, which'd likely have been tartar-sauce flavored. YMMV. The fries were very hot and salty and light yellow that hints at fresh fry medium and less acrylamide, everyone's favorite cooking byproduct.
The key lime pie was worth getting. The filling was smooth, not chalky, and the crust was thick, dense graham cracker, though the whipped topping was faux.
The wait can be long but the bartender had a friendly greeting for us coming and going, and his old fashioned was good. We'd go back for some history and family-style fish fry.