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Fish Type: Walleye     Price: $15.00

Overall, I would barely recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: When the Capital Tap Haus opened on the top of State Street back in 2010 we thought this place was going to be a no-doubt, slam dunk, Fish Fry success story. It had all the makings of a classic: the all-things-Wisconsin inspired menu, a modern yet traditional feeling atmosphere, and beer as far as the eye could see. It seemed they simply couldn’t fail when it came to Fish Fry, but somehow they did.

At least initially, their only offering was beer battered haddock which is served every day of the week with nothing added Friday (besides presumably more orders hitting the kitchen). It was a bland rendition to say the least and in classic “beer place” fashion the batter was way over the top. As time has passed the Tap Haus has evolved and while Haddock is still offered every day it is now joined on Fridays by walleye and lake perch (although this Friday Tilapia was standing in for the perch). Since we were still wary of the haddock, and wanted to see what they could do with walleye we went that route instead.

As per usual, the walleye wasn’t cheap, but even at $15 is pretty much par for the course. It came alarmingly fast (seriously alarmingly, like 3 minutes after we ordered), and was scalding hot which necessitated picking a few fries out from underneath first to let it cool. It was basically one large, triangular-shaped fillet with the substantial batter we expected. While the fish had the classic walleye flavor all that goodness was essentially smothered under the thick beer batter cocoon. The underside (skin side) even had a crunchy dual layer of batter that needed to be pulled off to make it more manageable. While that all sounds very negative it actually wasn’t a total loss, as the fillet was thick enough to balance out the copious coating to some extent. But of course, there is a lot of great walleye to be had in and around Madison and this one is simply not a fine as some of the others out there.

Perhaps the place where the Cap Tap can hang its hat is on their house-cut fries. The skin-on spuds are nearly perfect and had us wishing there were more to be had once we polished them off well in advance of the fish. Props to these potatoes.

The tartar was good too and really helped to make the brawny fillet much more palatable. It was thick and creamy (as it needed to be) with just enough pop to pacify with the fish.

Since no bread comes with the Fish Fry a house-made coleslaw was all that was left to finish things off and it was creamy yet light, but somehow missed the sweet spot.

While we’d say the Capital Tap Haus has improved over the years we think there is still room for growth. The walleye was hearty and it’s nice to see the expanded Friday offerings (even if the perch was absent this Friday), but we’re still far from blown away. Overall, we barely recommend this Fish Fry, but could actually see ourselves ordering it again if we happened to be there on a Friday night for some reason.
107 State Street
Madison, WI 53703

(608) 310-1010