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Fish Type: Cod (AYCE)     Price: $10.00

Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: I recently heard some good things about Hawthorn’s in Oregon and was really looking forward to trying their Fish Fry even though I hadn’t heard good things about it specifically. Hawthorn’s is fairly new and it can be hard for newer places to get the Fish Fry routine down to a science. Places like the Stamm House can have a group of eight in and out in an hour flat, with top quality food and service because they know the drill. Hawthorn’s still seems to be in its infancy when it comes to the flavor and the readiness of the Friday special.

We arrived at the restaurant at 7pm and met a group of friends who were already there. We were seated outside of the dining area in the “lounge” which was not bad except for the fact this area was being looked after by a newbie waitress who was here for her first day. Seriously, who starts their new waitress on Friday night, in Wisconsin? Hello? She did what she could, but when you have a full table of people eating nothing but Fish Fry things should run like clockwork. Our clock was a little behind and our food was a little cold as a result.

Hawthorn’s had two fish options this particular Friday, cod and bluegill. The cod was All You Can Eat for $10 while the bluegill was $12 for six nice sized fillets. The Bluegill was the better of the two and had a unique batter that almost looked like buffalo sauce. It was slightly spicy but actually good with the classic bluegill underneath. The cod was less expressive. The long, thin fillets were covered in a thick, crispy batter which took over the taste of the fish. Both were not “Fish Fry hot” when served, which may have been partially responsible for their lackluster performance. Although, the AYCErs did get hotter cod on the second and third rounds and they were still nothing special.

Much like the bluegill the French fries were very good and could have easily been great if served at the peak of their deep fried freshness. The tartar sauce (which our waitress forgot on the first time through) had a tiny bit of dill which didn’t ruin it but certainly didn’t help it. Overall it was just kind of so-so, as was the slaw which was edible but not memorable. The two pieces of rye bread on the plate tasted fine but looked horrible with (fake?) grill marks across their limp, soggy bodies.

Can “bad” services really ruin a Fish Fry? Well, MadisonFishFry recently got a nasty letter from someone who had a bad experience at the Esquire Club similar to what we had at Hawthorn’s and it makes you think. Having a rookie waitress is always a tough proposition because you know she is doing her best but when the food suffers you know why. Regardless of how she did I don’t think the AYCE cod really cuts the mustard, it was decent but I don’t think I will be back for it. The bluegill was a different story; I would certainly be willing to give it another chance under better circumstances. Overall this Fish Fry just left me wanting more. Maybe my expectations were too high, or maybe it was bad timing.
1150 Park Street
Oregon, WI 53575

(608) 291-2256