Fish Type: Haddock Price: $8.00
Overall, I would recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Good|
Potato Score: Excellent
Tartar Score: Excellent
Bread Score: Excellent
Miscellaneous Score: Good
Comment: A couple years ago we swung through Portage with one goal in mind. It wasnt to see the river, or (as hard as it might be to believe) to partake in their Civil War reenactment. Our goal was much more focused; it was to visit a tiny bar near the train tracks and eat what we were told was an amazing Fish Fry. We tried it, it was delicious, and our goal was accomplished.
On that day two year ago the fish was cod (or at least we presumed it was) but today it happened to be haddock. Since its not Madison, and its not a supper club, the fish at the Friendly Tavern is cheap. The 3-piece runs around eight bucks and with a beer barely reaches double digits. Since we were on the backend of lunch the fish fried alarmingly quickly and was hot, hot, hot!
Being the overzealous sort, I jumped on the pile and damn near burned my mouth in the process. The fish was good, but not as alluring as the rendition we enjoyed so much previously. The fish was light and flaky, but had a little grease on its belly which makes me think the fryer wasnt at full blast so long after lunch. When haddock or cod is the canvass of choice the batter needs to be brilliant and last time it was. This go round is was on the dark side and while it wasnt burnt it wasnt far off.
While the fish wasnt as great as that of our memory the fries were every bit as amazing. The thick, house-cut spuds were well-seasoned and perfectly fried. Most fries cant compare to those from the county fair of our youth, but these are not far behind. Simple starchy perfection.
Warm tartar sauce can be a death sentence for a Fish Fry, but somehow the big squeeze bottle at they leave on the table at the Friendly remains tasty. Its zesty and thick enough to drown the grease on the fish completely.
The slaw was creamy, but not really noteworthy, while the slice of marble rye was very meritorious. It came slathered with melted butter and really gave the meal an edge that is sorely needed.
Portage isnt exactly Madison-adjacent, but when youre heading north a Fish Fry at the Friendly isnt too far out of the way. While Id have a hard time convincing myself to take the trek otherwise it is certainly a worthwhile pit stop when youre heading that way. Overall, we recommend this Fish Fry and think it still has a lot going for it even if the fish itself is a little up and down.
223 W Oneida Street
Portage, WI 53901