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Fish Type: Cod     Price: $13.00

Overall, I would barely recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: When Tony Frank’s finally fizzled a little piece of Madison died with it. The venerable establishment always seemed to have its share of loyal locals, but for whatever reason the few regulars couldn’t keep the ship afloat. It was a slow burn, but eventually the bar was razed (metaphorically speaking) leaving a smoldering sadness in its wake. Like a phoenix, the Badger Tavern has risen from those ashes and with it comes a fresh coat of paint and a fresh outlook on the Friday Fish Fry.

Tony Frank’s hung their hat on their “famous” bar burgers, but their Fish Fry was far from noteworthy. Pre-battered cod and a side of freezer fries certainly didn’t draw much fanfare, and with good reason – it was truly terrible. The Badger is taking things much more seriously than Tony ever did with a legitimate Friday special that runs all day long. It’s a straightforward affair - $11 for a 2-piece cod or $13 for a 3-piece, along with standard sides. Just pulling into the parking lot is enough to get your motor running as the aroma of the deep fryer permeates the atmosphere and draws you inside on a cloud of oil-soaked oxygen.

Once inside the bar it’s clear that some thought went into the remodel. While it may have lost some of the “character” the made Toby Frank’s Tony Frank’s, it’s now a well-lit and a very welcoming modern neighborhood bar. It also seems slightly more spacious, which is a big plus since it was plenty busy this Friday afternoon. Our waitress was super friendly and quite attentive considering how many groups were under her watchful eye. Our baskets of fish came fast and were nice and hot, just how you’d want them to be.

The cod had a golden hue and was just slightly better than average in our opinion. The tender loins were home to a light and flaky batter that paired well with the flaky cuts of fish. While moderate amounts of greased seeped from the bottom corners it didn’t destroy the batter as long as the pieces were turned every so often – so be sure to do that or it could get soppy on you.

A bevy of long, shoestring style fries played Cheech to the fish’s Chong and were just as well-fried. There was nothing unique about them except for their length which pointed to a distributor that acquires elongated spuds. Stretched Sysco? Rangy Reinhart? Who know? Who cares? Looooooong fries were in abundance.

A thick and relish-y tartar marginalized the grease almost entirely and while it could very well have just been Sysco, I wouldn’t like it any less if it was. It did what it needed to do.

Some finely-chopped slaw with a little something unique played its roll with a dry humor. It was just fine but could have used some more creaminess to pull it all together. The Fry could also have used some more bread since none came with the Fish Fry. Ugh.

Tony Frank’s was a great bar, but their Fish Fry was downright pathetic. The Badger Tavern is moving things forward but there are definitely still improvements that could be made. Less grease, and a slice of rye would certainly put the Badger Tavern in the every week discussion. As it stands we’re satisfied knowing what it‘s all about and will probably just come back when we happen to be in the area. Overall, we recommend this Fish Fry and are glad to see new life in old Tony Frank’s

1612 Seminole Highway
Madison, WI 53711

(608) 286-1450