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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.

JJ Fish and ChickenThe specs: #0310
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; review at Isthmus, F the Following, news via Fearful Symmetries; J J Fish & Chicken on Urbanspoon

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.

Chicken nuggets, okra

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.)

Dry white toast

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.

Catfish, wings

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.


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You just made my day with that Blues Brothers reference -- and with your understated recommendation. It's one of my favorite movies, ever.

And hushpuppies...! Hushpuppies are one of my favorite foods ever, due in large part to the fact that I love cornmeal a whole lot. Sad to hear that the meal was mostly a bust, though.

There's a JJ Fish & Chicken -- maybe two -- in Rockford, but I've never been there. Now that I think about it, it may be closed.

I agree with the flavor of the catfish as well. I did take out from there on Christmas Day. JJ's seemed to be the only place open on the entire E. Wash corridor. I thought it was a fluke on the strange flavor, but your post just confirmed it was not. It's too bad. I lived in Chicago and enjoyed the cheap good eats from places such as JJ's. I was hoping this JJ's would give me a sense of some similar places in Chicago. Not the case though.

That looks a just like a take-out dinner I had in the Mississippi Delta. Everything was breaded and deep-fried; just by looking it wasn't easy to tell which kind of food was which unless you knew hush puppies were round. The cook looked a bit like Jerry Lee Lewis, there was a huge Confederate flag covering one entire wall - a bit unnerving - I felt I had "Yankee" written all over me - but the staff was friendly.

Yup, everything on the menu is fried. I was just in the neighborhood and stopped for hush puppies and peach cobbler, and asked the guy - nary a broiled or baked item, so don't anybody get your hopes up. :)

BTW the peach cobbler doesn't do well sitting in a deli tub. Think sodden bits of cornstarchy crust in a suspension of canned peach pie filling (admittedly dolled up with cinnamon and spice). On the other hand, I bet this treatment of banana pudding topped with Nilla wafers would get the approval of any SCOTS fan.

funny i came across this blog. JJ fish is originally from chicago. i just moved up to rockford about 2 years ago. I ate JJ fish growing up. for some reason the fish up here taste quite different from the fish in chicago. there is a JJ fish on auburn st.
3701 Auburn St
Rockford, IL 61101
(815) 962-6202

check em out for your daily fix

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