Fish Type: Cod (AYCE) Price: $10.00
Overall, I would highly recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Excellent|
Potato Score: Excellent
Tartar Score: Excellent
Bread Score: Fair
Miscellaneous Score: Good
Comment: When push comes to shove there really isn’t a whole lot that differentiates a good Fish Fry from a great one. Subtle upgrades like, the perfect tartar, the addition of homemade potato pancakes or, of course, the bump up to All You Can Eat are the intricate nuances that separate the best of the best from the pack. Some places have figured out these differences over the span of many years while others seem to stumble into perfection overnight. The Nite Cap Inn, in quaint Palmyra, falls into the former category. They have been playing the Fish Fry game for a while now, and definitely know what they are doing (in more ways than one).
Now, I fully realize that Palmyra isn’t exactly Madison proper, but I had heard nothing except good things about The Nite Cap, and when some of our wedding guests stuck around the Milwaukee area for an extra week I knew what needed to be done. I proposed the Fish Fry hot spot as a rendezvous point, and as it turns out this group of good ol’ Wisconsin gals were primed for a meet up. We agreed to convene at 6:00, and when my lovely bride and I strode in the door on the hour we were pleasantly surprised to see their smiling faces waiting for us. We grabbed a drink at the bar, told the “hostess” that our whole group was here, and chatted for a spell. About 5 minutes later, said hostess came by and took our orders as we sat at the bar (true supper club style). She then scurried off to drop the orders by the kitchen leaving us to ruminate on the festivities of the prior weekend.
We conversed for a bit as we sipped our drinks and did our best to look past the bartender’s near incessant inquiries on whether or not we were ready for more (The Nite Cap pushes the booze apparently, and has you order at the bar for a reason). About 15 minutes later we were ushered to the main dining room, through a set of doors, and into a smaller, more secluded back room. This room was setup with two long tables, perfect for larger groups (which we actually had). The tables were set with what looked like dishes from your grandma’s cupboard and family style bowls of coleslaw, apple sauce, and tartar. We all quickly dove into the homemade slaw and apple sauce and each put away a servings worth or so. The slaw, while being homemade, wasn’t great, but certainly wasn’t bad either. It was cool and creamy and set the stage for the AYCE fish which was to come.
And boy did it come. The first plates of cod and potato pancakes made their appearance and disappeared almost instantly onto everyone’s individual plates. I started with three pieces each of the fish and the homemade pancakes as well as a generous serving of the tartar. At first bite it was clear, this is good fish. It was incredibly light and very flaky with a breading to match. I really think the breading could have used a bit more spice to it, but I am splitting hairs here – it was flat-out very good stuff.
While I expected greatness from the AYCE fish, what I didn’t expect were the AYCE potato pancakes to be so good. While they didn’t have the oniony zest that Norm’s Hideaway pancakes have, they were no slouch, and the fact that they were AYCE really made me man up. What’s more, the addition of apple sauce and maple syrup only served to make them all the more inviting. When all was said and done I had consumed at least six pieces of fish and six (or more) of the pancakes. I was drunk on the fry and loving every minute of it, that’s for sure.
Speaking of, if it were possible to get intoxicated on tartar sauce, Madison Fish Fry would be the town drunk every Friday. This meal would have been no exception as the Nite Cap tartar was right on the money. The bright white sauce was almost gleaming, and featured a potent mayo zest with just an occasional hint of relish and/or dill. It was delicious, and complimented the cod just right.
With so much deliciousness abounding I hardly even noticed that our huge dish of butter went unused until it was too late. For one reason or another our table didn’t come stocked with any of the caraway-rye bread that I noticed on our fellow diners table at the last minute. It was a bit of a loss, but with so much fried goodness I didn’t feel too bad about it (however, their score will suffer a little since I didn’t even get a taste of it).
Apparently we lucked out a bit and it was the first weekend of high school football so they weren’t as busy that normal, which might explain our expedited service. Reports were that a 1-2 hour wait is the norm (I bet they get a lot of booze out the door that way). Regardless, we did very well and were in and out in just over an hour, even though our waitress was a little hit and miss. Overall, this is clearly a classic Fish Fry and I have no problem highly recommending it. Sure, the place ain’t the Ritz, but it had a nice downhome feeling which really complimented the style of food perfectly. There’s no two ways about it, this Fish Fry isn’t just good, it’s great. Don't sleep on The Nite Cap, no pun intended.
2659 S 3rd Street
Palmyrah, WI 53156