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Fish Type: Walleye     Price: $16.00

Overall, I would highly recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: Eatin’ fish is good. Eatin’ fish with friends is even better. Eatin’ fish with friends and supporting a noble cause like a community center is about as good as it gets. We got it good.

The Ironworks Cafe in the Goodman Center has a reputation for serving scrumptious breakfasts, and when they recently put out word that they were wading into the Friday Fish Fry pool I took note. While their initial offering isn’t cheap ($16), the fact that the food is high quality and the proceeds support the Center make the price you pay easier to swallow. As suggested by the flyer we decided to make a reservation, although as it turned out, it wasn’t really necessary.

Our party of 7 was to arrive for the second seating of the evening and when JJ and I showed up a little early we were surprised that we were the first to do so. The friendly hostess led us out of the Café and down the hall to a banquet room that was set up to handle larger parties. A high school aged server came by a minute or two later with some bread, and gleefully ran off to grab us a couple beers. We tore into the rolls with reckless abandon. The buns were hearty and tasty, and paired well with the Hopalicious our server returned with.

Gabe and Bethany were the next to roll in, followed closely by Jer and Zach. More beers were brought and by 7:35 the whole crew was in attendance. Most everyone ordered the walleye special, although a couple of expensive veggie burgers joined the fun as well. Before the fish our waiter(s) brought the “pickle tray” which is The Ironworks’ take on the traditional relish tray offered at many-a supper club. While the dish featured a variety of tasty pickled items including: cherry tomatoes, green beans, carrots and jalapenos, it didn’t feature any of the traditional elements like raw celery and radishes. Don’t get me wrong, any type of “tray” is a welcome addition to a Fish Fry, but was atypical to say the least, and the portions were TINY – about one of each item per person.

The fish came in due time - the walleye split into two large chunks. It featured a relatively thick beer batter, but since the fillet was so beefy it held its ground. This creamy coating had nice flavor, and could easily be eaten with or without the fish (from which it so readily fell off). The “Canadian Walleye” itself was high quality and it showed. It was smooth and flaky, and despite the thick casing had a great taste and minimal grease. Everyone agreed it was good, and a couple connoisseurs even commented that it was some of the best they’d ever had. High praise coming from those individuals…

Paddling out behind the walleye was a nice portion of home-cut French fries. The skin-on spuds were a little limp and not scalding hot, but were still well above average and desirable. While they could have been a hint crispier they were well salted which was enough for me.

Clearly some love went into this Fish Fry as evidenced by the hand-battered fish and homespun fries. However, they really outdid themselves when it came time to talk tartar. While the standard Sysco will do for most places, the homemade aioli style tartar whipped up at by Ironworks put it to shame. The thick sauce was simply superb, with a rich taste and just a hint of dill. It easily stood its ground against the brute force of the beer batter, adding a zesty pop to each fishy bite.

If we have to nitpick (and we do) there was one thing about this Fish Fry that just didn’t click – the coleslaw. While it was clearly homemade, it had an odd flavor and was oddly chopped such that it was difficult to eat. Oh well, a bad slaw does not a Fish Fry ruin.

While we expected good things from Goodman I wouldn’t say we anticipated an offering as impressive as this. The fish, fries, and tartar were simply superb, and The Ironworks’ unique additions worked well. It is clear that some thought went into this “Fish and Burger Nights” concept and they are doing whatever they can to keep it authentic, but not dull. Overall, we highly recommend this Fish Fry, and hope this wasn’t a one-time thing. If it comes back, so will we…
149 Waubesa Street
Madison, WI 53704

(608) 241-1574