Restaurants | Rankings | Reviews | How We Rank | Links

Fish Type: Cod     Price: $15.00

Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.

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

Share |

Comment: The last time we visited the Coliseum Bar the Alliant Energy Center was but a twinkle in some developers eye. In those days it was just the Dane County Coliseum and a big parking lot surrounded by marshland. There wasn’t much going on out there besides that which gave the Coliseum Bar a stranglehold on thirsty hockey fans and parched concert goers alike.

On our last visit lo those many years ago the food and atmosphere were atrocious which is why it took us so long to go back despite the fact we know they have a Friday Fish Fry that we needed to review. Since then much has changed at the isolated bar, mostly for the better. The interior has been totally remodeled, and the bar is actually quite inviting. It looks clean and modern, and much less dingy than it did back in the 90s.

The CB runs their Fish Fry all day long on Friday, but doesn’t give any cheaper options for lunch. All of their Friday specials go for $15 or more and come fully loaded so there’s really no way to have a light lunch (unless maybe you want to get a sandwich or something like that, but that’s no Fish Fry). Cod, haddock, and walleye and the main players, each of which comes with choice of potato, coleslaw, rye bread, soup or salad, and a cookie for dessert.

There are three soups to choose from and the clam chowder we sampled was creamy and hearty, but boasted much more potato than clam. The fish arrived on the chowder’s heels ensuring that both would need to be eaten simultaneously. The cod is served in four thin pieces each of which has a light breading that looks flavorful, but lacks follow-through. This fish is supposedly soaked in beer before being breaded and fried, but it tasted more like it was soaked in whisky. The alcohol gave the cod a skunky flavor which was problematic since the fish wasn’t of the highest quality to begin with.

The tartar sauce didn’t help matters either. While it was unique, it was probably too unique for its own good. It included a bunch of dill, bountiful capers, and some other stuff we didn’t even attempt to discern. Rarely do we say that a tartar actually made the fish worse, but this one definitely did.

Salvaging the sinking ship to some degree were a boatload of skin-on, julienne-cut fries with plenty of salt (probably too much salt for a lot of people). The spuds were well-fried and tasty, and offered a nice palate cleanser.

Some homemade slaw came next and like the tartar was very diverse, but in the worst way. It was unappetizing to say the least and had a strange salty flavor. In addition, there were some hard twig-like pieces of cabbage that could barely be chewed and necessitated spitting out. Blech.

The highlight of the meal was most certainly the whole slice of thick-cut rye although the cookie was pretty good too. The rye was soft and chewy and would have paired perfectly with a better slaw had it been available.

Over time there have been a lot of improvements near the Coliseum including: the Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center, The Goodman Pool, and of course, the Coliseum Bar. While the revamped bar has nicely been brought into the modern age the Fish Fry could still use a little work. Overall, we don’t recommend this Fish Fry and likely won’t return for it any time soon.
232 E Olin Avenue
Madison, WI 53713

(608) 251-2434