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Fish Type: Cod     Price: $9.50

Overall, I would recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: I like small-town bars. I’m not sure exactly why I like them so much, but I do. Perhaps it’s because that’s what I grew up with. Or, perhaps it’s that there’s always a stool or two available (unlike some places in the city). Or, perhaps (and most likely) it’s that small town bars usually have great fish on Fridays without overdoing it or drawing too much attention to themselves. Yes, that’s almost certainly why I like small-town bars, they love making Fish Frys and I love eating ‘em. It’s a match made in heaven.

I heard of this small-town bar called Marcine’s a while ago, but only recently decided I needed to pay them a visit. Rumor had it their fish was good, and since our friends Zach and Stacy recently moved into the area I figured we might as well rendezvous in Mt. Vernon and see what was what. We showed up around 7 and grabbed a drink at the bar; they rolled in around 7:15, and things got underway. There were plenty of tables available so we just grabbed a round one big enough to accommodate our crew of six. The waitress (who looked like she didn’t want to be there one bit) came over a few minutes later and sauntered off to get us some more drinks.

As you might expect, the Friday menu at Marcine’s isn’t exactly expansive, but does feature the usual suspects of cod and walleye. The cod comes as either a 2 or 3-piece ($7.50, and $9.50 respectively), while the single walleye filet goes for $11. Both fish come with your choice of potato and literally everyone in our party went for the “Cowboy” over the fries or baked potato. Yeehaw!

Before the fish, the coleslaw hit the table. It was an interesting blend that was indeed creamy, but more sour-creamy than mayo-creamy. While it wasn’t awful, it wasn’t alluring in any way and pretty much everyone agreed that it was middle-of-the-road as far as slaws go. It took quite a while for the fish to show up after that which made me (justifiably) uneasy. It was at least 20 minutes, and (of course) the fish was warm, but not steaming hot when it arrived. It looked (and tasted) like it had sat for a bit.

If nothing else, the portion of fish was large. For your nine-fifty you get three fat chunks of cod, in a light, flaky breading. The breading had a decent flavor, but definitely could have used some more seasoning. While it was light it was too waifish, and didn’t cling to the fish very well. The chubby chunks of cod were flaky, but sort of watery which partially contributed to the breading not clinging. By and large it was fine fish, more the “get it down while it’s still warm” kind than the “savor every bite” kind.

When the waitress described the Cowboy potatoes they really sounded like something special (which is probably why every single one of us ordered them). In reality it was basically a hash brown casserole with cheese and onion, which actually would have been totally fine had they not been served cold. Seriously, cold potatoes. Yikes.

The 3-piece cod comes with two small Solo cups of tartar sauce instead of just one (which is smart thinking on Marcine’s part). The sauce appeared to be of the homemade variety, and was very thick. It was definitely a unique blend that I think was made with McCormick mayo instead of the usual Hellman’s or Sysco. This particular mayo has a very interesting flavor (if you’ve ever had it you know what I’m talking about) which isn’t horrible, but just doesn’t do it for me. It also didn’t have much relish mixed in which led to it being a pretty basic tartar.

Rounding out the plate was a dinner roll that was yummy in every way. It was soft and crusty, with a delicious yeasty flavor. It was definitely not just your plain dinner roll, and partially made up for some shortcomings elsewhere in the meal.

As I said, I really like small-town bars, and Marcine’s in Mt. Vernon is no exception. The bar itself is neat, and while this wasn’t the best fish I’ve ever had, it was passable and had everything come out scalding hot it could have been a different story altogether. Overall, we still recommend this Fish Fry and will likely come back someday to give them a chance to fully redeem themselves. There are better days ahead at Marcine’s. I just know it.
8646 Davis Street
Mt. Horeb, WI 53572

(608) 832-6289