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May 16, 2011 09:09 PM

Red Fish, Blue fish, not the fish I ordered.

What do you all think is the appropriate way to address an attempt to pass off one fish for another at a restaurant?
I had one of the worst meals in a while tonight (Lola's Lake House in Waconia, FWIW) --not the least due to having ordered "panfried Canadian walleye" and getting something I'm 99% certain was NOT walleye.
Walleye: a thin, fish shaped fillet or portion thereof, right? What was on my plate were large square/rectangular 3/4" to 1" thick cut slabs of fish. Not like any walleye I've ever met in the water or on a plate. My best guess is that it was the cod they have on the menu as fish and chips dressed up in a different package and sold for $20 instead of $13.

S.O.'s entree was disappointing and bordering on inedible as well, but at least it was the tuna he ordered.

Anyway, I was hungry and needed to get on with my evening, but in any other situation I would have sent this "walleye" back. OTOH, not carrying a testing laboratory in my purse, I really had no way to prove it wasn't walleye other than based on my not insignificant experiences with both. And if the kitchen is shady enough to pull this crap in the first place then really, what is the point?

If they didn't have walleye, blatant deception is a better option than coming and asking me to change my order? I feel taken advantage of.

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  1. It's worth a lot to mention the name of the restaurant.

    If you have a problem, it is always worth it to bring it to the managers attention. They need to know.

    My take on walleye is that it isn't that great of a fish, and that Lord Fletcher's does a tasty version of it for $20, which you can eat while watching the bizarre spectacle of that place unfold. Why settle for less? If it's Minnesota you want, it's Minnesota you'll get.

    That said, send the dishes back. I mean, was the entree description mention anything about chunks? Did you order the chunk plate?

    You don't have to order new entrees, or pay for anything. Just leave. Then head back to your favorite restaurant, explain your situation, and tell them to bring you booze as quickly as possible.

    Lord Fletcher's
    3746 Sunset Dr, Spring Park, MN 55384

    7 Replies
    1. re: kevin47

      Yes indeedy, the thread title led me to wonder about any updates on the seafood restaurant in St. Paul (now closed) that used the same Dr. Suess allusion as its name.

      Also not in the habit of carrying the DNA materials to dinner, so although I haven't seen walleye as you described I can't say what was on your plate. The restaurant staff could have straightened it out and should have been given the chance to rectify the mistake before being publicly accused of running a shady kitchen.

      1. re: KTFoley

        I agree that the walleye at Fletchers is good, or as good as a boring tasting fish gets.

        I guess part of my point is that I don't see how this could possibly have been a "mistake" and am evidently not socially equipped enough to play the game of pretending it was.

        As we have all read here, in the real world, a diner just doesn't always have the time or patience to deal with sending something back. And if it wouldn't have screwed my dining companion, I would have liked to have taken Kevin's advice and just left.

        FWIW, I don't take public calling out lightly and if you would have seen the rest of what was on our plates I think you'd agree that shady is me being fairly kind.

      2. re: kevin47

        I'm pretty sure I'm correct--if you order walleye in MN, it's Canada you get, not Minnesota.

        1. re: Haricotsv2

          Not at the multitude of places that advertise Minnesota walleye

          1. re: GutGrease

            Which places would those be? Fishing for walleye is a MN pastime but commercial sources are from Canadian waters, yes?

            What comes to mind for me is that even places like Tavern On Grand trumpet a Minnesotan tradition but not a Minnesotan fish. That's what I think kevin47 was getting at when he said Minnesota -- the Lord Fletcher's experience rather than the provenance of its entree.

            Lord Fletcher's
            3746 Sunset Dr, Spring Park, MN 55384

            1. re: KTFoley

              Seems like not ALL commercial walleye is from outside the state (except insofar as tribal fisheries are sovereign):


              its out of date but looks like there may actually be some minnesota walleye on plates

            2. re: GutGrease

              I'd like to know how many commercial walleye fisheries there are here. Red Lake was the biggest for a while, but I think they shut that down indefinitely.

        2. It wouldn't surprise me at all. I remembered an article I'd read in the past about restaurants switching out the walleye. I'm surprised that it was from that long ago, but here it is: Then just google walleye and zander.....

          2 Replies
          1. re: johnnybgargoyle

            Specific to the OP's point, I've seen Canadian walleye as some fairly thick (3/4" to almost 1") "chunks". I am positive these were walleye because they came direct from family that fished them from Canadian lakes. They can get pretty big, and some of the "fillets" can be pretty thick. I'm nost saying what you got was walleye, I'm just saying that just because it's thick doesn't mean it's not walleye.

            All that said, I'd be surprised that a place is passing off something else as walleye. Canadian walleye isn't that expensive. I'm not sure it's worth it passing off cod as walleye - would there really be significant savings, especially given that most folks in MN know what walleye tastes like (bland)?

            As for a fish being passed off as another, I've commonly seen this done with snapper - there are many places that pass off lesser fishes as snapper, as real snapper does tend to be expensive. I've recently seen it argued that "Red Snapper" is really a catch all for several different species. Huh. Is "venison" a catch all for several species of mammal?

            Lastly, about walleye in MN - I've read several reputable sources that state that there are extremely few Minnesota walleye served in MN. The Red Lake commercial fishery is exceedingly small as compared to the demand in MN. The vast majority of walleye served in restaurants, if not all, is of Canadian origin.

            1. re: foreverhungry

              Actually, venison can refer to deer, elk, antelope, and possibly other similar species. The only difference between farmed and "wild" venison at a grocery store is method of harvest, i.e. abattoir vs. rifle.

              Red snapper is, in fact, a catch all because it is the most recognizable and marketable. There is only one true "American Red Snapper" though being that there are hundreds of kinds of snapper and the fact that they taste roughly the same it is not that big of a deal to sub one for the other. On the other hand, calling swai or basa or some other cheap imported fish snapper or grouper is a much bigger deal.

              The Red Lake walleye is mostly sold on the reservation as a coop and to various tribal enterprises.