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Fish Type: Cod     Price: $13.00

Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: Life is all about enjoying the simple pleasures. Little things, like, listening to your favorite album, or slapping some brats on the grill are tiny moments that should be savored even if they seem like everyday activities. One of my personal favorite simple pleasures is enjoying a delicious 16oz. Sprecher’s Root Beer, easily the greatest bottled root beer available today. Sprecher’s is brewed in Milwaukee, but recently sold their name to a company who has opened a new Restaurant and Pub on Madison’s west side, complete with a full selection of tap beer and root beer. Since the draught root beer at our hometown A&W was about 1000 times better than A&W in a can, I shuddered to think how euphoric the taste experience of a draught Sprecher’s Root Beer would be and knew I needed to try it immediately.

While perusing Sprecher’s website I noticed that in addition to the draught beer they were listing a Friday Fish Fry special. The evening was setting up perfectly, draught root beer, Fish Fry, and multiple vegetarian options; all this at a new restaurant with nothing but positive reviews across the web. We made our plans, and when we arrived around 7:15 we were pleasantly surprised to get seated immediately. I figured we would have a significant wait based on the number of cars in the lot, but the place is pretty big apparently and several tables were open. As we sat in our booth and waited for our server I salivated at the thought of the delicious root beer. It turned out that our waiter was also taking care of a big group and by the time he finally came by we were saturated with anxiety and thirst. We sent him away for our beverages immediately and looked over the menus he left behind. When he came back shortly after without the root beer, we were a little dismayed but gave him our orders with the help of some managerial-type person’s veggie recommendations.

He brought back our drinks and within 10 minutes the food followed. The Fish Fry special consists of three large chunks of cod which amounts to about 9oz. The fillets were cloaked with an incredibly thick beer batter which actually had a decent taste, but a very spongy texture. It totally encased the fish which led to the cod being pretty greasy. In fact, I was scalded with squirting fish grease on more than one occasion while chomping into them. The fish itself was not really flaky and bordered on mushiness due to the amount of grease. It also seemed like the fillets were not of the highest quality as some had a brownish color to them. In the end I was only able to eat two of the three pieces and wound up taking a doggie bag home.

The steak fries that came along for the ride were good, but there were hardly any, especially when you consider the amount of fish present. In addition, they were kind of under fried as were the limp and lifeless sweet potato fries that I also got to try.

When they slapped the fish down in front of me it was evident that the less than half filled cup of tartar would not be nearly enough and I immediately requested another, to which they (almost spitefully) brought three more, filled to the brim. If the server and manager-guy had not been so pleasant earlier I would have thought something was amiss, but I’m marking it as a new restaurant being eager to please, for now. The tartar was thick and creamy and helped to make the heavy fish more edible.

For some reason Sprecher’s Restaurant has decided to not include any bread with their Fish Fry which is a huge mistake and really makes me wonder what is going on, especially since $13 isn’t exactly cheap for cod. The slaw was also erroneous, as the bland, watery mixture totally missed the mark.

When all was said and done I only got through one refill on my 10oz glass of root beer. Some of the blame falls on the server and the rest on the overly rich and heavy Fish Fry. Overall, I can’t recommend this Fish Fry and will probably not be back for it any time soon. While the fish tasted alright, it was not flaky or tender and just can’t compete with some of the better Fish Frys out there. The French fries and tartar were fine, but certainly not enough to salvage the meal, especially considering the lackluster slaw and lack of bread period. For Pete’s sake, even the root beer was a bit of a let down. It wasn’t served in a frosty mug and was no better than a bottle fresh from the fridge at home. Unfortunately, the Fish Fry at Sprecher’s Restaurant and Bar was not the simple pleasure I was hoping for, although it sounds like the rest of their menu is good so we may be back at some point, just not for the fish.
1262 John Q. Hammons Drive
Madison, WI