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Wisconsin ‘west coast’ eatery puts healthy Door  County spin on Friday night favorite

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The Oasis Eatery at Nesbitt’s Nursery & Orchard staff ready a boiled fish dinner. (RE photos by Stacy Bengs)2 / 3
The Oasis Eatery at Nesbitt’s Nursery & Orchard in Prescott offers a genuine Friday night fish boil — the only of its kind held regularly on the “west coast” of Wisconsin. Once the timing is perfect, vegetable oil is thrown on — flashing the heat up around the cauldron and boiling fish impurities out over the water. (Republican Eagle photo by Stacy Bengs)3 / 3

PRESCOTT — Friday night fish fries are a staple meal on many a Midwesterners menu.

But one local eatery decided it was time to try something both new, entertaining and most importantly – healthy.

The Oasis Eatery at Nesbitt’s Nursery & Orchard, located on the Great River Road between Prescott and Diamond Bluff, is now in its second year of offering a Friday night fish boil — possibly the only boil of its kind of the west coast of Wisconsin.

“I’m so happy,” executive chef and marketing manager Leah Nesbitt-Miller said. “It has gone over incredibly – I don’t know why I’m so shocked about that.”

In fact, she went on to say she doesn’t know why the idea never came sooner. Nesbitt-Miller grew up in Wisconsin’s Door County.

“It’s cool because I grew up in the place right where it started,” she adds, noting she used to spend her summers working between Ellison Bay and Gilles Rock.

Over 100 years ago, Scandinavians settled on the peninsula and cooked their food over open flames. With an abundance of whitefish from Lake Michigan, the fish boil was born.

Today, Door County’s Viking Grill in Ellison Bay runs as the longest operating fish boil since its first batch in 1961.

How it works The fish boil is a must-see, must-taste experience for any fish-eating patron – and it quite arguably is the healthiest way of consuming the meat.

Boil master Sam Miller, who is also the nursery’s orchard manager, explained the process.

A large cauldron is filled with water and heated up over an outdoor fire. Locally grown baby red potatoes are thrown in for 20 minutes, followed by onions, which go for about 11 to 12 minutes.

Then come the fish – thrown in the boiling cauldron for just six minutes. The eatery opts for a fresh Alaskan cod over the traditional whitefish of the Great Lakes.

“It’s not rocket science, but timing is critical,” Miller said of the boil, adding that keeping the fire going at the right temperature and controlling the flame as is flips around from wind is crucial.

Just as the potatoes, onions and fish are about done, Miller throws in vegetable oil – flashing the heat up around the cauldron, boiling fish impurities out over the water.

“You are left with the perfect meat, potatoes and onions,” Nesbitt-Miller said.

“Fish boil doesn’t have a good ring to it,” she said with a laugh. “But it’s gone over so well.”

In addition to the food, the eatery has incorporated a pergola draped in hops and grapevine as an outdoor oasis with live music added, completing the mellow mouthwatering evening.

The details Oasis Eatery’s Friday night fish boil goes through Sept. 19. Nesbitt-Miller added she wishes the boil could go longer into the fall, but the nursery switches gear as the Happ-E-Hill pumpkin, wagon rides and scarecrow season starts.

“We will continue,” she said of a next year’s fish boil. “The whole premise of Oasis Eatery is cooking with local, seasonal and sustainable food. We love to buy locally and cook seasonally.”

Reservations for the Friday night fish boil are preferred. Walk-ins are welcome but must show up by 6:30 p.m.

“We don’t cook more than the people that are here,” Miller said.

“Our fish boil is unique, it’s showy and has these things Door County has but we have all these seasonal foods coming in,” Nesbitt-Miller said.

The food is out and ready to be served at 7 p.m. Cost is $16.95 per person, $8.50 for kids ages 12 and under.

Dinner includes fish, potatoes with onions, homemade herb butter, a zesty rémoulade, fresh garden-to-table salad and a seasonal dessert.

For more information, call 715-792-2676 or visit

Stacy Bengs-Silverberg

Stacy Bengs has been a photojournalist at the Red Wing Republican Eagle since 2010. She holds a bachelors degree in journalism and art from the University of Minnesota.

(651) 301-7880