Fish Type: Cod Price: $16.00
Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Fair|
Potato Score: Excellent
Tartar Score: Good
Bread Score: Excellent
Miscellaneous Score: Good
Comment: A lot of people apparently don't like Brocach's remodeled. It's no longer a "traditional Irish pub," it "feels cold," and on and on. While I can agree it doesn't have the typical Irish pub aesthetic, I can't say it bothers me all that much. I actually like modern lines, the clean feel, and most importantly, I like that they're not trying to pawn off fish-n-chips as a traditional Wisconsin Fish Fry. Too many Irish pubs do that...
While it's no longer f-n-c's the Fry at Brocach is still from from traditional. Rather than your choice of cod, walleye, lake perch, or smelt, The Whiskey Den makes you take ALL FOUR...and no, I'm not even kidding. For $16 four different kinds of fish share one plate and there is no option to get them individually. This is a true all or nothing affair. While it's an interesting concept for sure, it's one that falls flat in the end. Each variety of fish typically has its own allure, but something was lost when they shared a plate. Since there were so many to pick through, it was impossible to focus on any one fish making them all blend together in a menagerie of blandness. The same breading was applied to the lot which only furthered the lack of separation. Of the quartet the walleye was the most substantial, but much mushier than we're accustomed to; the cod was probably the best of the bunch as it at least had a firm and flaky texture; the smelt had the expected fishy flavor but little else (there were about six of them in total); and the perch was literally one butterfly (two fillets) that could have just flown away as far as we're concerned (ok, that's harsh, but it really wasn't very good). There was zero flavor to be found here, and essentially no winners in the bunch which is something I would not have thought possible.
While the fish(es) failed to impress, the house-cut fries were were the exact opposite. The portion was plentiful and they were perfectly fried making for pure eating enjoyment. These are the kind of fries that always make us think "why can't every place should just do it like this." Apparently is must no be all that easy.
Uninspired fish needs a good tartar to make it something more and the homemade sauce a the 'cach actually delivered. While it looked dilly it actually made the fish better. It was neither thick nor thin, mayo-y nor sour creamy, it was just amorphous mix that gave the fish some much needed flavor.
A nice slab of rye with a bounty of whipped butter came on the side and helped complete things along with it's amigo a house slaw (that actually wasn't very good). Oh well, win some, lose some.
I think people are struggling with the new Brocach because it lacks an identity. The old Brocach was an Irish pub through and through - dark wood, traditional grub, lots of whiskey, and Guiness up the butt. While the new incarnation maintained some of those traits (specifically the 'skey) it lost a lot of the character (and charm) that people glum on to. While I was never a real proponent of the Friday Fish of yesterday, at least the haddock felt like it belonged...this mishmash is anyones guess. And maybe that's just what the new Brocach is? An androgynous mix of styles that doesn't have a niche so it just tries to find a safe spot in the middle. Unfortunately, this mantra usually doesn't work out in life more or less when it comes to Fish Fry. Overall, we don't recommend this Fish Fry, but that's strictly based on the food. The bar itself is decent, and while I like Irish pubs, I like modern too.
7 West Main
Madison, WI 53703