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Fish Type: Haddock     Price: $8.00

Overall, I would recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: A couple years ago we swung through Portage with one goal in mind. It wasn’t to see the river, or (as hard as it might be to believe) to partake in their Civil War reenactment. Our goal was much more focused; it was to visit a tiny bar near the train tracks and eat what we were told was an amazing Fish Fry. We tried it, it was delicious, and our goal was accomplished.

On that day two year ago the fish was cod (or at least we presumed it was) but today it happened to be haddock. Since it’s not Madison, and it’s not a supper club, the fish at the Friendly Tavern is cheap. The 3-piece runs around eight bucks and with a beer barely reaches double digits. Since we were on the backend of lunch the fish fried alarmingly quickly and was hot, hot, hot!

Being the overzealous sort, I jumped on the pile and damn near burned my mouth in the process. The fish was good, but not as alluring as the rendition we enjoyed so much previously. The fish was light and flaky, but had a little grease on its belly which makes me think the fryer wasn’t at full blast so long after lunch. When haddock or cod is the canvass of choice the batter needs to be brilliant and last time it was. This go round is was on the dark side and while it wasn’t burnt it wasn’t far off.

While the fish wasn’t as great as that of our memory the fries were every bit as amazing. The thick, house-cut spuds were well-seasoned and perfectly fried. Most fries can’t compare to those from the county fair of our youth, but these are not far behind. Simple starchy perfection.

Warm tartar sauce can be a death sentence for a Fish Fry, but somehow the big squeeze bottle at they leave on the table at the Friendly remains tasty. It’s zesty and thick enough to drown the grease on the fish completely.

The slaw was creamy, but not really noteworthy, while the slice of marble rye was very meritorious. It came slathered with melted butter and really gave the meal an edge that is sorely needed.

Portage isn’t exactly Madison-adjacent, but when you’re heading north a Fish Fry at the Friendly isn’t too far out of the way. While I’d have a hard time convincing myself to take the trek otherwise it is certainly a worthwhile pit stop when you’re heading that way. Overall, we recommend this Fish Fry and think it still has a lot going for it even if the fish itself is a little up and down.
223 W Oneida Street
Portage, WI 53901

(608) 745-3355