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In a word: Patchy piscine pleasures.

The specs: #0413
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; profiles at Dane County Buy Local and Madison Originals; reviews at Wisconsin Fish Fry Review, Madison Fish Fry, collected at del.icio.us; official web site, Nau-Ti-Gal on Urbanspoon

JM ate the baby walleye platter with a lemonade.
John ate the stuffed grouper with a Coke.
Nichole ate the Fyfe's grilled chicken salad and a slice of key lime pie.
We split a quesadilla.
The bill was $54, or $18/person, plus tip.
John gave Nau-ti-gal an A-; JM and Nichole gave Nau-ti-gal a B+ (see our grading rubric).

Latest Nau-ti-gal news and reviews

Nau-ti-gal, the sassiest of the Von Rutenberg ventures, is sincere and enthusiastic in their local boosterism, especially evident in their love notes to local farmers in the menu. But they kind of feel like the kid that keeps hanging around after graduation - they've been around longer and are not quite hip, but they try.

QuesadillaWe started off with a serviceable quesadilla that included green peppers, decent salsa and sour cream. Also on offer among the appetizers were the usual deep-fried bar fare plus "shark bites" of real shark, which may be delicious but is wrong on too many levels to contemplate.

JM's fish fry was decent and mostly satisfying. The small, lightly fried pieces of walleye were tender and sweet. The french fries knotted together with too much breading, which was unfortunate as it led to fry medium overload. The cole slaw was on the sweet side, with purple and green cabbage plus carrots in a mayo base.

Fish fry

Fyfe's spinach saladNichole was heartened by the mention of Fyfe's Corner Bistro, which ostensibly contributed a salad recipe to Nau-ti-gal's menu. Something was missing, though. Spinach, average chicken breast, pine nuts, and more salsa added up to less than it could have, and the dressing of fresh ginger and lime was somehow too acidic and too oily, and not quite emulsified.

Stuffed walleyeOn the other hand, the stuffed walleye grouper made John's top 5 A-Z meals ever (and he's been to China Palace, Imperial Garden, Juanita's Tacos, Kabul, and La Concha). At first he thought covering the fish so completely in Hollandaise was an odd move, but the not-too-cloying sweetness of it totally floated his boat (pun intended). The fish was stuffed with shrimp and crab and was just awesome.

One benefit of the salad option was that it left room for dessert of a great key lime pie. The custard was rich, the construction tartlike, with real lime flavor and a nice contrast with raspberry sauce. And while this one was covered in whipped cream as well, there was no reason to suspect it came from the grocer's freezer case.

Key lime pie

The bar for entry here is lower than at Mariner's across the street and that lends the 'Gal to being the place for seafood when you have $20 instead of $40. 


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That key lime pie looks absolutely amazing.

I don't comment on many reviews [though I read them all], but that Key Lime Pie sounds delicious and looks outstanding!!! It appears that something was drizzled over the pie part [in addition to the Raspberry syrup], was that sweetened condensed milk???

It may have been - my notes fail me. :)

I'm curious about your comment on the shark bites..."which may be delicious but is wrong on too many levels to contemplate". Please explain.

I've been to Nautigal a few times, more often than not for their brunch, which is decent (the cookie dough adds to the experience). I was not impressed with their Friday fish fry.

Where to begin with shark... it's top of the food chain, so probably full of toxins; overfished (certainly on the "don't eat" list); and served this way doubtless frozen and breaded, which destroys (for me anyway) any culinary adventure. See also Seafood Watch.

But maybe I'm full of chum.

You rock, Nichole. Those are great resources.

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