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Fish Type: Cod     Price: $10.00

Overall, I would recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: So, we realize this is Madison Fish Fry and all, but once in a while we aren’t in Madison on Friday, and we’ll be damned if that’ll stop us from getting our fish. And we figure, since we’re eating the fish anyway we might as well do a proper review – you know, just to see how things stack up across the state… We happened to be in the La Crosse area and since we’ve had Houghtons’ Fine Food-Cocktails on our list for what seems like forever we figured we should finally check them off.

To be fair, we arrived at Houghtons’ kinda late (8:30 to be exact). What’s more, we were a little rundown from a rousing game of hockey over in La Crescent, but still in the mood for fish (too bad no one else seemed to be). The place was practically empty save for a smattering a stragglers in the bar and dining room. Needless to say, we had no trouble acquiring a table and ordering up the Friday special.

The $10 2-piece cod comes fully loaded, and we got after it immediately. Houghtons’ salad bar was a little depleted by this point in the evening, but was still fairly fresh. It featured the supper club standard iceberg lettuce, basic dressings, a few bound salads, dinner rolls, a couple soups, and (luckily) some pickled herring. While we didn’t try the soup, we perused the rest of the selection, with the coleslaw being creamy, but runny, the potato salad being what you’d expect, and the dinner roll hovering around the mean. Reinhart? Sysco? I wouldn’t be surprised at all…

Our freshly fried fish showed up about 15 minutes after it was ordered and was nice and hot. While there were only two pieces present, what they lacked in quantity they more than made up for in girth. These were not your average cuts of cod. Each of the pristine white and flaky fillets had to be pushing 6oz., very little of which was batter. The coating, in his case, was a light beer batter with a pleasant flavor that complemented the fish rather than overwhelming it. While a little grease was in the neighborhood it didn’t soak the batter, or ruin the high quality fish.

With limited potato options (baked, twice-baked or French fries) we settled on the fries which were very blah. Sure, there were plenty of them, but the Julienne-cut Janes were nothing to write home about. We also got a glimpse of the twice-baked which was more like some sort of whipped/mashed dealie than the traditional twice-baked potato you’d expect. No one at the table was impressed.

If anything about the meal was memorable it was Houghtons’ take on the tartar, but while the sauce stuck in our minds, it also stuck in our craw. This stuff was unique, to say the least. Simply put, it had lots of weird little speckles and an unknown flavor or two that were interesting but not traditional by any stretch. It tasted fine, and had an acceptable consistency so we’ll let the oddities slide, but we’re still a bit put off by the whole thing.

The more Fish Frys we eat outside the Madison area the more we realize how good we actually have it around these parts. While Houghtons’ wasn’t bad, it was a bit of a letdown considering we’d heard it was one of the best in the La Crosse area. Overall, we still feel fine about recommending this Fish Fry, the cod was great, and it was a complete meal, but it didn’t quite live up to the expectations we’d placed on it. Maybe that’s our fault? Or maybe, just maybe, we’re actually spoiled Madison? We’d tend to lean towards the latter.

1002 Jackson St
La Crosse, WI 54601

(608) 784-9770