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Upgrade your standard fish fry with the freshest catch at area restaurants 

Photos by Jordan Ashwood

Friday night fish is a time-tested Wisconsin tradition. When you’re looking for a less deep fried take on this weekly ritual, try one of these dishes for something that is sure to make a splash.

Get Hooked 

Take a scroll through Fratellos’s Instagram feed and it’s easy to see that plating is an art at this Appleton restaurant. From perfectly seared scallops topped with microgreens to fresh tuna creatively drizzled with housemade sauces, the seafood options extend beyond the typical. Even true Wisconsin staples like the pan fried walleye are handled with a creative touch. According to Executive Chef Steven Lehman, the pan fried walleye is “approachable to everybody and is the number one selling item.” The fish is breaded and then seared in a pan, giving it a golden brown crust on the outside. Roasted potatoes and garlic green beans round out this dish, which is topped off with a decadent slab of garlic butter.

Reel Fresh 

Fress Restaurant and Bar opened in April in downtown Appleton and has quickly become a dining hotspot. Chef/Owner James Dudley says the kitchen team is “constantly in and out of farmers markets looking for whatever is fresh and in season” to create their menu of shared plates. This focus on freshness extends to their seafood and fish. The P.E.I. mussels are a popular dish and are made with shallot, Pernod, white wine and ramp butter. The scallops are also popular and are made with a parsnip puree, bok choy and a cashew relish. (Both of these dishes can be made gluten free.) Because seasonal ingredients are constantly being sourced, the menu is always changing. “We don’t like to do the same thing twice,” Dudley says. Expect a new surprise each time you visit, as a protein might be prepared differently or feature new ingredients.

Hook, Line and Seasonal 

Field & Fire, a one-year-old restaurant in Greenville, serves up seasonal scratch cuisine in an open kitchen setting. Chef Proprietor Ryan Sherman wanted to add something different to the existing supper club and sports bar scene and give locals a new experience in a growing community. Sherman expressed how his team tries to work as locally as possible and cook seasonally. When it comes to their fish offerings, Sherman says they get it in fresh everyday. For a fresh taste of summer, try the Arctic char with pea risotto. The fish has a delectably crispy skin and is served with risotto scented with tarragon, garlic and shallot.

Most Fish in the Sea

Pisco Mar, a seafood-forward Peruvian restaurant in Appleton, has lots of options for anyone looking to deviate from the typical fish fry. This shouldn’t be surprising given the restaurant’s name – “mar” means sea in Spanish. One of the most popular seafood dishes is the house signature Pisco Mar ceviche. Light and refreshing, ceviche features seafood cured in citrus juices. Diners can choose from fish, shrimp, octopus or scallops marinated in avocado, lime juice, jalapeno, cilantro, red onion, and garnished with sweet potato. General Manager Grisell Soto says this dish is “fresh and traditional Peruvian food.”

Big Fish 

Submitted photo

Big Pot & Grill in Darboy is far from your typical seafood restaurant. They are known for their seafood boils where they boil up seafood, spices and vegetables and present it at the table in a bag to preserve and intensify the spicy flavor and aroma. Perfect for sharing, guests are encouraged to don bibs and gloves while digging in, as things can get a bit messy. Co-owner Yee Lee Vue says, “If you love seafood, it’s a good experience. It’s a really fun way of eating seafood than you normally do.” For anyone who is unfamiliar with seafood boils, the seafood lunch combo is a good place to start. It includes shrimp, mussels, crawfish, potato, corn and a side of rice. Guests can choose how to spice their seafood, whether it’s spicy or mild. One of the popular spicy seasonings is the Thai chili with garlic, butter, lemongrass, and Thai seasoning.

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