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Fish Type: Cod     Price: $10.00

Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: We did it wrong. We tried putting a square peg in a round hole - taming an untamable beast - turning a get-in-get-out kinda place into a sit-down-take-your-time kinda place. In all fairness, we weren't sure what we were getting into, but with a name like the Roast Public House we expected something a little different from what we got. You could call it false advertising, or misplaced expectations, but whatever it was, we missed the mark on this one.

It was a planned-out, coordinated effort on our part (for once). We had friends who wanted to go get fish, and since everyone always wants to go downtown, Roast seemed almost too good to be true – new, downtown, vegetarian options, fish special – Boom! Let’s go. The wife and I arrived early and figured we'd just sit at the bar and have a few drinks since, after all, it’s a public house and that's what you do at the pub, right? Wrong. Well, not totally. Roast's definition of a “public house” is a little loose, and the place actually feels more like a well-lit cafeteria than any sort of pub that I’ve been in. That said, they have a nice bar and a pretty decent drink selection so maybe they’ve just taken a more modern stance on the idea of the pub?

The modus operandi at Roast involves ordering at a special counter, getting a number, and waiting for the someone to bring your food from the kitchen (kinda like Culver’s in a way). This method of dining isn’t exactly favorable for large groups, and no matter what we tried everything went haywire. Some of us wound up at the bar, some of us tried to save seats in the dining area, and some of us just got there and ordered thinking others had already eaten. It wound up being a bit of a shitshow (which is mostly our fault), but if the Fish Fry would have been amazing all would have been forgotten. All was not.

Once we finally put our order in, the $10 Fish Frys came promptly. As you might expect, it wasn’t scalding hot since it presumably had to wait for a server to come retrieve it. Lukewarm fish is a forgivable offense, if the fish is outstanding, but unfortunately this fish was not. While it was really tasty the portion was TINY - probably the smallest we have ever seen in all our years of eating Fish Frys. The three pieces were more like fingers than real pieces - each one barely the size of a mozzarella stick. The fish was flaky, and featured a light, well-seasoned breading, but it was gone so fast I hardly even had time to notice it. The three tiny swimmers were basically the equivalent of one normal piece of fish and left everyone wanting more… A lot more… Like 5 pieces worth... No kidding.

The house made fries that came along made up for the fish somewhat, and were very good, but paled in comparison to the sweet potato fries. At least each style of fry was plentiful, which really had me wondering why the fish came in such a small quantity. Ratios, people. Ratios.

Some remoulade sat in for the traditional tartar and had a unique flavor that complimented the spicy breading on the fish well. While it was a little thin, it was really tasty and made the fish disappear even quicker than it would have on its own.

A semi-stale slice of sourdough necessitated some serious gnawing, as it boasted a tough crust and chewy interior. A home brewed slaw was a nice addition and featured plenty of onion to go with the usual suspects.

There is no doubt in my mind that if the portion size was beefier I’d have no problem recommending Roast, but as it stands I just can’t. Overall, I don’t recommend this Fish Fry even though the food was good, and the place is nice. Sometime size does matter, and when you compare three skimpy fillets at Roast to the full-fledged All You Can Eat Fish Fry you can get elsewhere it’s pretty obvious something is missing at State Street’s new public house.
529 State Street
Madison, WI 53703

(608) 819-6457