Fish Fryday #1: Portside Inn, Marquette

Today we introduce a new feature, Fish Frydays. On a not-quite-weekly but more-than-monthly schedule, we will patronize a new fish fry location in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Naturally, these outings will take place on Friday evening, with a review posted the following Monday. The goal is simple, try as many fish fry locations across the Upper Peninsula as possible in the presence of good. Have a suggestion? Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

Fish: Fried cod
Beverage: Vanilla Java Porter, Atwater Brewery
Time commitment: 1-2+ hours
Total: 12/15 stars
Price: $$$

The Portside Inn has been a staple of Marquette since 1983. They are located on Washington Ave in the heart of Downtown Marquette. They serve lunch and dinner with a menu that is certain to please just about everyone. If we may, we suggest the southwestern steak chili. They don’t take reservations, and their intimate atmosphere fills up quickly on a Friday. Be prepared to wait on a busy night, but a worthwhile wait. If you’re in a hurry, you may find an open seat at the bar.

Fish 5/5

Yes, five stars on the first outing, that sounds a little outlandish. But, it’s no exaggeration. The fried cod was delivered in a timely matter with five large pieces of fish. The sole option of fried cod on the menu does not disappoint, because if you’re going to do one thing you best do that thing really well. The fish was cooked to perfection, not too dry, not too moist. The light breading was delightfully crispy. My taste buds rejoiced. Though the fish in itself was perfection, the tarter sauce was a little off. Generally I apply the tarter sauce quite liberally, but thankfully this fish needed none. Appropriately, my first bite was promptly at 9:06pm.

Portside Inn Fish Fry
Portside Inn Fish Fry

Sides 3/5

When dining at Portside Inn one thing is a must, the breadsticks. These breadsticks and their magically addicting cheese spread are of legendary status around Marquette. Just know that one plate is plenty to share for a party of four. My cod was paired with a Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery, an excellent selection. Alongside was a small cup of coleslaw which was tasty, but would leave a coleslaw lover wanting more. Steak fries were my choice between the baked potato and onion rings. A healthy portion of fries was served, but the very light seasoning on the thick cut fries was a bit too much potato.

Portside Breadsticks

Atmosphere 4/5

From the moment you reach to open the door, you are greeted with a nautical theme through the entire establishment. The walls are lined with a mix of historical and present day photos of life on Lake Superior. The dim lighting sets the tone for excellent dinner conversation, and there is outdoor seating during the summer months. If you have claustrophobic tendencies you’ll want to proceed with caution. And if you have a large group, you may want to look elsewhere on a busy night. As for us, it was the perfection location. Nestled inside by the fireplace, while the snow continue to fall outside.

It was an enjoyable evening that lasted three hours. Not because of the service, but the conversation rolled smoothly into the night. I (Baraga native) was joined by Angie (Marquette native), John (Iron Mountain native), and Maureen (Ishpeming native). It was a strong Yooper showing with conversation focusing on food, restauant ideas, and a discussion of Serial and Making a Murderer. Round one was amazing, already counting down the days until next Friday, but like we say, it may or may not be weekly.