Caleb Westphal hasn’t missed a Friday fish fry since 2013. Follow his never-ending adventures—sponsored by Miller High LifeHERE. This week, fish fry #547: The Fox & Hounds Restaurant & Tavern in Hubertus, Wisconsin.

Much can be said about their buy-one-entree-get-one-free deal, or the bucolic drive to get there (including a view of Holy Hill), or even the intriguing building itself, but let’s get real: the only reason I traveled to The Fox & Hounds Restaurant & Tavern last Friday (1298 Friess Lake Rd., Hubertus; 262-628-1111) was because I saw that they have all-you-can-eat perch. How often have I had all-you-can-eat perch in my adult life? There was the place that gave me two small pieces of perch at a time in 2019, and, well, that might be it.

Allgauer’s Bistro & Pub In The Park, 2019

The Fox & Hounds has been a restaurant since 1933. In 1929, Ray Wolf and his wife Alta acquired a small log cabin that had been built by the first clerk of Washington County in 1845. The cabin was torn down and transported to its current site, where Ray restored it and added a basement bar. Equestrians frequented it, and it became a hub for those going on fox hunts, so much so that it was named Fox & Hounds when it became a restaurant. In its early years it was known for serving chicken, steak, and duck dinners, which remain some of its specialties today.

More rooms were added to the restaurant over the years. A lot more. When Ray passed on in 1963, Alta sold the restaurant to Karl A. Ratzsch, Jr. (yes, that Karl Ratzsch), and when he retired, his son Josef and daughter-in-law Jane bought it and kept it going. The restaurant was in the family for over 40 years. The current owners are Thomas Masters and his brother Will Masters, who also own the Mineshaft in Hartford (checks website…yes, they also have all-you-can-eat perch). A third partner, Jim Constantinea, passed away this April.

The website for the Fox & Hounds says “reservations highly recommended” and also that the restaurant opens at 4 p.m. on Fridays. I didn’t make a reservation, and instead decided to get there right when they opened. My wife and I arrived in the near-empty parking lot at 4:05. I suppose it may have just looked empty because of how large it is, but it was clear that the wait wouldn’t be long.

“Are stairs okay?” we were asked, before being led up to the Upper Hunt Room. After close to 550 weeks of Friday fish frys in a row, it’s reassuring that some apparently believe me to still appear young and spry. There were no other diners in the room, just us along with various taxidermied animals, antlers, hides, and farm implements.

We looked over the menus and I ordered an Old Fashioned. Every—that’s right, every—Friday seafood option is all-you-can-eat, but unfortunately (and understandably), the buy-one-entree-get-one-free deal that is part of much of the restaurant’s menu doesn’t apply here. Still, the prices for all-you-can-eat are in line with the prices of single-plate meals at many other restaurants. Beer battered haddock ($17.99), beer battered perch ($21.99), poor man’s lobster ($21.99), breaded fantail shrimp ($18.99), haddock and shrimp ($23.99), perch and shrimp ($24.99), and poor man’s lobster and shrimp ($24.99) fill out the Friday section of the menu. Each comes with french fries, but an upgrade to a baked potato or garlic mashed potatoes can be made for an extra dollar. I ordered the perch with garlic mashed potatoes. While I was able to restrain myself from adding shrimp to my perch, I couldn’t do the same for clam chowder, and added a cup ($4.99) to my order.

With no fruit at its bottom, nor any at its top, the Old Fashioned ($9) was a brown-tinted and bitters-blessed cocktail. Heavy on ice, it still hit rather evenly, with a sweet edge. The chowder arrived a few minutes into the drink. Its flavor was moderate and not particularly memorable, but it was loaded with vegetables, such as carrots and humongous skin-off potato chunks, with plenty of green seasonings and a reasonable amount of clams.

It was just shy of 4:30 when the opening volley of the fish fry arrived. A half slice of soft, marbled rye, about what is expected or desired, made its appearance—I ate it and quickly dove past it. I was drawn in a bit more by the slaw, with its balanced, inviting flavor, but it was the rest—the potatoes, perch, and tartar—that brought the most distinction.

A hearty flavor was whipped into the garlic mashed potatoes, along with red skin remnants, which gave the texture added character. This was heightened even more by the sliced green onions atop the potatoes, which offered a minor crunch that raised the potatoes up an extra notch.

This first plate had three pieces of perch. They were covered with a crisp and intensely crunchy batter, which had a buttery sweetness, but scarcely the flavor of beer. There was a pinch of toughness, which came from the perch itself, although it was hard to tell its source because of the crunchiness of the batter. The first three pieces were rather similar in this regard, and as I ate them it dawned on me that they might have been the first pieces of perch being served at the restaurant all evening.

Each time I ordered more fish—which I did twice, first with another three pieces, then with two—it came out with exceptional promptness. Some of the later pieces seemed meatier and less tough than the first round, closer to the mark, while the batter remained consistent for all eight pieces. The sweetness of the perch poked through, but was overshadowed by the batter. The tartar added another layer figuratively and literally. Thin and filled with relish, it, too, was imbued with a sweetness, which along with its yellowish tint almost convinced me there was a dash of honey mustard in the recipe, although that likely wasn’t the case. There was plenty of tartar to go around, because each time I ordered more fish I was given another cup of it.

As we ate, rain slammed on the wooden shingles above us. Four of the other tables in the Upper Hunt Room filled up, tables were set for a party with many guests across the room, and I wondered how full the rooms had gotten below us. Upon our exit we meandered through them, between diners, until we found ourselves in the basement bar, and then in the Music Room adjacent to it. The architecture of the building is rooted in tradition, but is also sometimes a bit fantastical, being reminiscent of a place like House on the Rock. This fantastical nature was accentuated when we walked outside and found the rain had cleared: a statue near the building appeared to be crying, and steam was lifting off the parking lot just as it had off each fresh order of promptly delivered perch.

But again, it was the all-you-can-eat perch that had brought me to the Fox & Hounds Restaurant & Tavern, not the country drive, the multi-room building, the buy-one-entree-get-one-free deal, the crying statue, or the steaming parking lot. Although the perch did not succeed on all fronts—the batter was perhaps overly crunchy and not all the fillets were very supple—there was enough redemption to go around: the batter became strangely endearing, the fillets held inherent flavor, and the tartar was memorable. And beyond that, perch is still perch, and when there is all of it you can eat at a reasonable price, Friday night will always be a success.

Takeaways: All-you-can-eat everything; long-standing restaurant with character and multiple dining rooms; fruit-free Old Fashioned; garlic mashed potatoes that make up for lack of pancakes; extra crunchy batter with a buttery sweetness; dependable tartar.

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About The Author

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Originally hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin—home of Walleye Weekend, the self-professed "World's Largest Walleye Fish Fry"—Caleb Westphal has not missed a Friday night fish fry since sometime in 2013. He plays saxophone with the surf-punk-garage outfit Devils Teeth. He also spins classic 45s and would love to do so at your roller skating party, car show, or 50th high school reunion.