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Fish Type: Cod     Price: $10.00

Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.

Fish Score: Poor
Potato Score: Poor
Tartar Score: Poor
Bread Score: Poor
Miscellaneous Score: Poor

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Comment: This isn’t a Fish Fry review, but an explanation as to why a Fish Fry review wasn’t (and never will be) done at The Willows.

The Willows runs a Fish Fry on the last Friday of each month, so it isn’t exactly the easiest one to get to, but we tried. Believe me, we tried. When we showed up at 6:30 Jer and I figured we’d be in and out in a flash leaving us plenty of time to head downtown for some beers and show afterwards. We were wrong.

We entered the bar, and despite the extreme “swivel-factor” (props to MadisonAtoZ for that one), immediately headed for a couple open stools at the bar next to a pleasant looking older lady. We asked her if they were open, and she said they were. We sat down and waited with money in hand for the bartender to come by.

When she finally did come over several minutes later there was no “Hey, how ya doin’?” or “Welcome to The Willows.” only a stern look and a call for “IDs!” Fair enough, she has to be on the lookout for under-agers, right? We provided our credentials which she scoured though like they were secret FBI documents potentially leading to the capture of Osama Bin Laden. Eventually she gave them back by throwing them on the bar and stomped away to grab us a couple Spotted Cows. Yeesh, real friendly around here, we thought. Jer mentioned her less-than-congenial attitude to our octogenarian friend and she just said there had been a lot of under-age drinking operations going on around these parts and she had to do what she had to do. Understandable, but does she need to be a raging you-know-what while doing it? Apparently, she did.

She returned with our drinks, slammed them down, and immediately turned her back on us even though we clearly were trying to inquire about getting some fish. As we waited (for her to return?) we struck up a conversation with our friend. We talked about the upcoming pre-season Packer game, and got the lowdown on the Fish Fry, which she claimed was very good.

Of course, the Amazonian bartender never came back (we weren’t HER regulars after all) so Jer did his best improv act and tried to hail down the young waitress who was running around the place. “Can we get some fish?” he asked. “Sure, did you guys see the hostess?” she politely responded. “No, we didn’t see her. Is there a hostess?” we asked. “Don’t worry about it” she said, “I’ll tell her you guys want a table.” Excellent, we were in! (Or so we thought).

We watched as she walked away to go wait on her tables, but she never did talk to anyone who even remotely resembled a hostess. We did get to watch her run around the dining area, clear some plates, and even head outside for a smoke though. We waited, waited, and waited some more, our beers ever dwindling. Eventually we sat there for another 20 minutes, waiting like a couple of dolts, a table clearly not in our future.

As the last sips of beer went down, we had a choice to make. Wait, grab another beer (from the other bartender hopefully), or just head out and find our Fish Fry fix elsewhere. We felt unbelievably slighted and our business unwanted. It sucked, so we just cut our losses and got ready to go.

While getting up from our stools our old lady friend says “Were you guys gonna eat?” “Well” we responded, “we wanted to, but never got the chance.” “Oh.” She said, seeming interested, but not all that worried about it. As we got ready to leave, Jer happened to bump into a younger girl who was playing pool and had been sitting near us at the bar. She jokingly says “Way to suck up to the owner.” Wait, what? The owner, you say? That nice old lady we were sitting next to was the OWNER!? Get the f*ck outta here… She sat there the whole time, her bartender being rude as hell, knowing we wanted to eat, but not getting service, and didn’t say anything!? No f*cking way. It just isn’t possible… It simply cannot happen… That isn’t the way things are done… Unfortunately for us, it did just happen, and we felt even more insulted than we did before. We left, as pissed as ever.

Now, Jer and I are both small town boys, we’ve been to literally hundreds of small town bars between us, and neither of us could recall EVER being treated in such a manner. It was bizarre, like something out of the Twilight Zone. It was simply an awful experience and I for one will never give them another chance to prove their Fish Fry prowess. It was total BS, which really sucks because The Willows is literally one of the closest taverns to my house and I could have seen making it a frequent haunt. No way that will ever happen now.

Unfortunately, it looked like the regulars received much better treatment, which only served to alienate us even further. I guess if you aren’t a regular you should probably just stay out of The Willows and head to the much more hospitable Villa Tap instead. That’s what we wound up doing and probably should have just done in the first place.

5485 Willow Road
Waunakee, WI 53597

(608) 244-8458