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Fish Type: Cod     Price: $6.00

Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: We poke, we prod, we do just about everything imaginable to get people to spill the beans about Fish Frys that we haven’t been to. Normally we hear crickets, and very few people give us suggestions for new and better Friday specials. Apparently, if we don’t have the scoop, no one does. This quagmire often compels us to seek out the unknown and at times submit to “freestyling” much like a couple of famous TV Pickers.

Unlike the dynamic History Channel duo, we usually can’t drum up new Fish Frys just by driving around. Licari’s Tavern is now an exception to that rule. The tiny bar is situated just behind the Pizza Pit off Fish Hatch near the Beltline, and actually has a sign that says FISH FRY - what more could a fish picker ask for? It was basically an engraved invitation, so Jer, Matt, and I scurried south and met a hungry Reese for a lunchtime liturgy.

Lunch at Licari’s isn’t exactly going to break any banks. The cod comes in at a mere six bucks while the walleye gets a teensy bump to six and a quarter. It turns out the quality of the cod was indicative of these pedestrian prices, but the walleye went above and beyond expectations. Yes, $6.25 for a plate of walleye is cheap regardless, but this was actually very good walleye. Unlike the frozen, pre-battered cod, the local (relatively speaking) fish was freshly breaded, resulting in, two (or one big one split down the middle) moist, and flaky fillets. The breading was light, and had a good flavor that paired well with the fish. While the portion wasn’t huge, it was still a huge deal.

The cod was crap. Three thin, pre-battered, freezer-2-fryer pieces, let’s just move on...

The thick-cut Julienne fries also went straight from the deep freezer to deep fryer, and like the cod, failed to inspire. The portion was fair for six bones, but they weren’t well-fried, with crispy critters and soggy slices playing in the same pile.

A few flecks of relish dotted the mayo-heavy tartar, but did little to change its taste. It actually worked for us as the creamy blend took over for the complacent cod, making it all the more edible.

If you have ever taken our recommendation and gone to the Regent Street Retreat (and from the looks of it not many of you have), you would have a pretty good idea what to expect from the coleslaw at Licari’s. We always thought the RSR slaw was homemade, but Licari’s version has a similar horseradish blast and the exact same consistency. I now believe the two sauces are identical, and can no longer claim either to be homemade, however both are still delightful.

For $6.25 you can’t expect the world, nor can you expect a piece of bread at Licari’s, apparently. While it’s not a deal breaker in this case, it is still a bit of a bummer and certainly a gaping hole in the Fish Fry Five (fish, potato, tartar, coleslaw, bread).

Overall, we can easily recommend the walleye at Licari’s, and have to say it is one of the best deals in town. The cod on the other hand, not so much. But hey, that’s why we try ‘em all.

1405 Emil Street
Madison, WI 53713

(608) 256-3548