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Fish Type: Cod     Price: $9.00

Overall, I would recommend this Fish Fry.

Fish Score: Good
Potato Score: Fair
Tartar Score: Fair
Bread Score: Good
Miscellaneous Score: Good

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Comment: The love of the Fish Fry is a deep love indeed. It stems from our fathers, and our father’s fathers. Generations of Wisconsinites have observed the special Friday tradition, and here at Madison Fish Fry we are honored to be a small part of it. We have enjoyed the experience of each and every Fish Fry, from the very best to the very worst, and everything in between. We have eaten more fried fish than we once imagined possible, and consumed more calories than is probably advisable. This Fish Fry commemorates the 500th entry in the Madison Fish Fry database. That is 500 individually ranked Fish Fry options from almost 200 different restaurants. From local lake perch to imported Icelandic cod, The Esquire Club to The Club Tavern, I guess you could say that we have been there, and done that.

Since it was kind of a special Fish Fry I figured what better way to commemorate it than paying a visit to one of our local veterans halls. I have known the VFW on Cottage Grove Road has had a Fish Fry for quite some time, but only recently heard that it was worth checking out. The Fish Fry faithful and I pulled into their cramped parking lot around 6:30, and were not the least bit surprised that nearly every stall was full. As we entered we were greeted by a rowdy bar, enveloped by thirsty patrons on this muggy Friday evening. Jer paused to grab us a pitcher of Spotted Cow, while Gabe found the hostess and procured us a table in the mess hall. We were seated, browsed the menu for a bit, and a few geriatric moments later a member of the ladies auxiliary ambled by to take our orders. Gabe and I both went for the cod while Jer opted for the ocean perch.

Our fish came no more than 10 minutes later and was nice and hot, as it should be. I snagged up one of three tiny pieces and instantly and let ‘er rip. The fish was nice and light as was the batter it hosted. The flaky cod blended well with the delicate batter resulting in very tasty fish. A one-for-one swap allowed me a glimpse at the ocean perch as well. It was also very delicate, and enjoyed what appeared to be the same batter as the cod. It was equally good, if not even a little better than its deep-sea companion. Overall, the fish options were both very appetizing, but left me wanting more after I’d exhausted my tiny allotment of three skimpy pieces.

Accompanying the fish was a thick tartar which was insanely heavy on the relish. Now, I normally like a thick, relish laden sauce, but this was a little over the top and took too much attention from the fish with its flamboyance. The amount of attention taken by the tartar was equal to that given away by the plain-Jane crinkle cut fries. They were a straight-outta-the-bag variety and nothing special, much like the hash browns with cheese and onions, tried by both Jer and Gabe. Gabe seemed to think they were decent, but Jer swore up and down that they were rancid or had been befouled in some way. I gave them a whirl, and thought they were definitely not good, but weren’t nauseating or anything like that.

Completing the Fish Fry puzzle was some basic French bread and some very cabbagy coleslaw. The bread was largely forgettable, but the slaw was fairly tasty even though it was cut into near perfect cubes, which was kind of creepy.

While this wasn’t quite the stellar unheralded Fish Fry that I was hoping it would be for our 500th, it was still really good. Overall, I feel very confident recommending it, especially at a mere nine bucks. The fish was delish, while the fries and tartar did just enough to save face. Some bread, some slaw and a no-nonsense atmosphere helped to get the job done. While the service wasn’t exactly crackerjack (the ladies auxiliary ain’t no spring chickens after all), it was familiar and welcoming which made for a great visit when all was said and done.

As arteries clog, and Fish Fry after Fish Fry goes by we think about how what a long strange trip it has been. Never would we have imagined 500 plates of fish would pass these lips. Thanks to those of you who have come along for the ride, and here is to eating our way into the next 500. Anyone know where the Fish Fry is at this Friday? We’ll see you there, wherever it is…
301 Cottage Grove Road
Madison, WI 53716

(608) 221-9326