Fish Type: Cod Price: $8.50
Overall, I would highly recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Excellent|
Potato Score: Good
Tartar Score: Excellent
Bread Score: Good
Miscellaneous Score: Good
Comment: In Madison Fish Frys can be a bit of a novelty. There are just so many options in our fair city that the sacred Wisconsin tradition can come across as a cutsie or superfluous. It is anything but. In Wisconsin’s small-town taverns the Friday Fish Fry is taken much more seriously, not only as an important meal, but as a chance to get out and see your neighbors, and shoot this sh*t. It is integral in community life, and in no community is that more evident than in tiny Hill Point, WI.
Hill Point is home to the Villa Inn which serves as the town meeting place come Friday night. When we arrived at 6:30 pm we encountered what must have been half of the local population and an hour long wait at the bar (complete with Don, the owner, and the oldest barkeep this side of the Mississip). Since the place was packed we were lucky to even get our order in (you have to hunt down the lone waitress and give it to her on the fly) more or less get seated as fast as we did. It was mayhem in the tiny bar, but it was fun at the same time, and when tap beer is only two bucks you really can’t go wrong (unless you want something other than Miller Lite or High Life, in that case you’re screwed as far as beer goes).
The menu at the Villa is limited, but intriguing at the same time. In addition to the “fish” and “pike” (which you might expect) there is also “poormans,” chicken, “fresh” shrimp, frog legs, scallops and “clam,” all which ranged in price from six to eleven dollars. Even though I was mildly interest in the oddball items I just went for the “fish” which I correctly presumed to be cod.
While it took a bit to get our table for two, once we did things went like lightning. Awaiting our arrival was a big dish of coleslaw, and a basket with buns and cellophane breadsticks. The rolls were wrapped in a towel but weren’t warm which was kind of strange, but whatever… l’m not gonna nit-pick the logic there. The four packages of cellophane sticks were a nice addition and those we didn’t eat on-site easily fit into the coat pocket for later consumption. Conversely, the coleslaw was well thought out and the finely chopped, blend was nice and zesty. Between the two of us we almost exhausted the whole bowlful, partially because it was so tasty, and partially because my vegetarian wife was SOL when it came to the Friday menu. Sorry, babe.
The fish arrived shortly after and was picture perfect. The four golden, flaky filets of cod were flanked by a handful of crinkle-cut fries, and a pull-apart paper cup of tartar sauce. I wasted little time, even though the fish was alarmingly hot. As far as “fish” goes the Villa’s cod is right up there. It boasts a beer batter that is about the standard thickness, but has a very nice flavor. It has a smooth and creamy taste, but isn’t overbearing like some BBs. The fish itself was flaky, but did generate a moderate amount of grease, though it wasn’t bad since it didn’t saturate the batter.
The standard French fries were nothing special at all, but were well-fried at least. I could have used a bit more of them, but at $8.50 I don’t really expect a ton so take that for what it’s worth. The cup of tartar was also tiny, but since it was so thick and creamy it almost lasted to the end. It was a very unique sauce and finished with a distinctive sweet flavor that was very enjoyable. We presumed some rice vinegar may have played a part, but whatever it was it was good.
Hill Point isn’t exactly close to Madison, but if you happen to find yourself in the Richland Center area on a Friday night (as we did) you are in for a treat. The Villa Inn is quite the little place and clearly popular for a reason – they’ve got the local Fish Fry on lockdown. Overall, we highly recommend this Fish Fry, and could easily see ourselves taking the detour to Hill Point again someday. Don done good.
Hillpoint, WI 53937