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“watch your money”

Kavanaugh's Esquire Club
Ranked #385 of 1,023 Restaurants in Madison
Cuisines: American
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Reviewed November 5, 2012

Went to the Esquire Club for the Fri. night fish fry. At the bar we ordered several drinks and when paying with a hundred dollar bill, I was surprised to see change for a twenty. In other words the bartender shorted me $80.00. I'm old enough to have had this happen before and there is always a way to tell if it was intentional. First, if the bartender makes himself unavailable by leaving the bar or going to the opposite end for an extended period of time, this is a clue. Then when you manage to get to the offending bartender, if he doesn't have to check the till and almost without hesitation agrees that he owes you $80, you know that he knows. This was just how it happened. The two male bartenders were chuckling and acting very smart and I am sure that they were both in on the scam and probably both doing it. The owner was not present so there was little chance taken in ripping off the patrons.
We did have dinner. The fish batter was hard. Not really very good. I probably will not return anytime soon. I just hate to be ripped off by some smart bartender.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
5  Thank frank b
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 18, 2012

We live in Maple Bluff near Kavanaugh's, and every Friday night we see the cars lined up for the Friday night fish fry. Intrigued, we tried a couple of times to get in, but there was always over an hour wait, and our young daughter just isn't that patient. We thought fortune was shining on us when a blizzard had dwindled the Friday night parking lot down to only a handful of cars. Finally our turn!
First, we were surprised to see bowls of tartar sauce sitting on the tables when we arrived. Since it's usually made with mayonnaise, we were a little concerned about how long they had been sitting out at room temperature, particularly when the empty tables around us kept their bowls of bacteria brew throughout our entire meal.
We decided to try their cheese curds (one our favorite Wisconsin dish) but theirs were hard, unappetizing buds of flavorless cheese, so we were pretty disappointed. I didn't know that you could completely ruin cheese curds.
Then the famed fish arrived! Another disappointment! The batter was similar to the crusty cheese nuggets and the cod was dry inside. My husband's actually had two very large bones left, one of which he had to pull out of his mouth. When he pointed out the oversight to the waitress, she became very defensive and questioned whether it was really a bone. He pointed to the jagged pick on his plate, and she scrutinized him like he was on the stand. We weren't asking for a discount or a free meal. She announced, "Our fish never has bones!" and stormed away, as though we had insulted her mother.
Maybe that's why our drinks weren't refilled. The whole experience was just disappointing. So now we've resumed our prior tactics - just drive by Kavanaugh's and ignore it.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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    • Food
3  Thank PrincessInArmor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 27, 2012

I used to visit the Esquire Club almost weekly for Lunch (it was close to my job) and for Dinner as a Date destination: I was single, it was good food at good prices with a pretty decent atmosphere, so it made a good impression on a young lady for a reasonable outlay - pretty important on a limited budget!
For the last 15 years or so, I've been introducing my wife (now of 35 years) to some of my favorite spots in the Madison area; Friday night, 2/24/12, we finally made it to Kavanaugh's.
Our Waitress was DOROTHY, a 20 year veteran, and as an overall experience, her EXCELLENT service and professionalism mostly made up for some of the "less than excellent" menu items. We tipped her almost lavishly, since our visit would have been a negative without her! She never let our drinks get empty, anticipated our rate of comfortable dining speed and delivered our food at the appropriate times. She kept eye contact with us throughout the meal, and made it easy for us to express our needs.
Now, the food.......First, the table was set Family Style, with the Cole Slaw in a common dish, and plenty of Butter, Tartar Sauce, Sour Cream, and Creamers chilled, and available on the table: a basket of fresh Caraway Rye bread was delivered almost immediately. The COLE SLAW was Very Good - tasted like I remembered it . The bread was also quite good, although not warm.
We ordered an appetizer of Onion Rings: they came quite quickly; a large basket FULL of Hand Breaded fresh Onion Rings. The onions tasted great, BUT the breading was VERY FLAT & TASTELESS - we ended up stripping off the coating, and just eating the onions with a touch of salt & Pepper.
My wife ordered the Lake Perch: the fish was fresh and flaky, BUT, again, had almost NO FLAVOR! Thank goodness for the Tartar Sauce, which was Very Good.
I ordered the Rib-eye Steak, medium rare. It came in a HOT Sizzler Tray with my Baked Potato. They both looked Great! My Potato was; baked to perfection and HOT.....Now the Rib-eye: It was a nice cut of meat, with a great grilled look; the problem came when I began to eat it! It was somewhat over done - more like Medium, and although the texture was great, it was almost totally tasteless! I seldom use a sauce with a good steak, but I had to anoint this one with Butter, Salt & Pepper to enjoy it. I know that KAVANAUGH'S uses good ANGUS BEEF and age their steaks - I Believe this one was OVER-AGED to the point of losing its flavor!!
I have spent most of my adult life in the Food Service Industry, and don't mind paying and tipping well for good food and service. In this case the food was disappointing, but not really bad, and the evening was rescued by the perfection of the service.
We will likely be back, but will be a bit more selective in our menu choices, and ask some questions before we order.
One thing for CERTAIN: we will ask for a table in DOROTHY'S section!

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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