Fish Type: Tilapia Price: $11.00
Overall, I would barely recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Good|
Potato Score: Fair
Tartar Score: Good
Bread Score: Excellent
Miscellaneous Score: Good
Comment: When a new restaurant opens up it is a good idea to let them get their feet wet, especially when it comes to Friday Night Fish Fry. The Fry is a finicky mistress and is rarely mastered from the get-go. It takes time to perfect the craft and really figure out the subtleties that make one Fish Fry stand out from the next. We gave the new Country Place Café in Brooklyn a few months to figure it out, and then paid them a visit. I’d still call it a work in progress at this point.
The CPC bills their Friday special as a “Complete Fish Fry Dinner” with the first item listed being “crispy coated fish”. Since ambiguous terms like “fish” or “perch” are usually used for a reason I was inclined to question what kind of fish it actually was. The answer turned out to be tilapia, which is a fish you don’t necessarily associate with frying (and with good reason). Unlike clean cod, or smooth haddock, tilapia tends to have a very noticeable fishy flavor, and not the delicious kind you associate with freshwater fish, but more of a saline marine/aquarium taste. While tilapia can be tasty if done right, that is usually accomplished with drawn butter, lemon juice, and skill, not breading and a deep fryer.
Anyway, the fish comes in three sizes: a 1-piece for $9, a 2-piece for $11, or the 3-piece for - you guessed it - $13. I went for a 2-piece, and didn’t ask any more questions since I had a pretty good lay of the land based on the menu. Once ordered the food came alarmingly fast, which surprised both my wife and I. The tilapia turned out to be fairly respectable, although it was mostly thanks to the breading and not the actual fish. The breading was well-seasoned and masked most of the ocean-y flavor (it was actually the best fried tilapia I’ve had although to be fair I haven’t had very much). All in all it was pretty good, but I can only imagine how much better it could have been with some nice flaky pieces of cod instead.
I had high hopes for the house-cut fries, but unfortunately this batch was under-fried. It was a major disappointment because the thick julienne cut spuds had some serious potential. Luckily, I was able to help myself to the fried green beans and sweet potato fries that my wife ordered and both were superb and fried perfectly. I wasn’t rally sad, ‘cause two outta three ain’t bad.
The tartar was also great (supposedly a family recipe) and packed a punch. It was nice and thick, but the portion was fairly small, and the two small pieces of fish literally consumed every drop. The homemade coleslaw was also above average, and while it was a little soupy on the bottom it had a subtle celery flavor that was uniquely inviting.
A full slice of marble rye was cut in half, buttered and slapped back together face-to-face. I peeled it apart, spooned the slaw on and enjoyed every bite. I also enjoyed every iota of the homemade apple sauce that came along. It was really delicious and a welcomed bonus that you don’t normally get with a Fish Fry.
Basically everything at the CPC was above average, but could have been tweaked into greatness. If the fish was cod instead of tilapia, and the fries were fried longer you’re talking highly recommendable territory right there. Unfortunately, there is still more work to be done especially when it comes to the service side of the equation. Not only did it take an inordinate amount of time to get a table, but our waitress never did come by to take our orders and the slack had to be picked up by the owner’s wife who was clearly aware of the situation and accommodated. Her husband (and head chef) came to our table afterwards and thanked us for eating his food (which was a unique experience for us), but he really should have been thanking her instead - she saved their ass big time. Overall, I still feel fine recommending this Fish Fry and hope they make the few subtle changes that will push them over the top. I think they can, and will.
233 Douglas Drive
Brooklyn, WI 53521