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Fish Type: Cod     Price: $12.00

Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.

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

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Comment: Shiny new toys are the bee’s knees. Pretty much everyone wants ‘em and will do whatever they can to get ‘em. Café Hollander was the shiny new toy in Hilldale for a good four months or so and everyone wanted to be there and do that. They didn’t care how long they had to wait for a table or how expensive the beers were. It was a golden age for the Lowlands group.

As so often happens, shiny things start to fade and the true nature of the object is revealed. At this point it’s the genuine articles that start to shine and in the case of a restaurant the article is the food. No matter how cool the atmosphere or how expansive the beer section a restaurant must have good food if they want to survive. Hollander is toeing a thin line.

The Firday special at Hollander is a 3-piece cod affair and comes beer battered or extra crispy (potato chip crusted). Our previous experience led us towards the beer batter and the fried morsels looked amazing perched on Hollander’s patio under the golden sun. The cod was very basic but also hearty. The three meaty pieces were paired with a beefy batter that didn’t have much favor, but covered a few minor imperfections on the flaky fish’s belly. While we prefer thinner batters the cuts were big enough that the substantial sheath didn’t take over completely.

When compared to the plentiful portion of cod the serving of French fries was miniscule. The 20 or so shoestrings that made the trip were perfectly fried and tasty, but such a small sampling still left a bad taste in my mouth.

Hollander’s tartar was homemade and pungent, but not necessarily in a good way. It was overloaded with capers and bogged down by too much relish. While I still used some of it, much of the cod was eaten dry which doesn’t say much for the sauce.

A nice little crusty bun with salt sprinkled on top was the next order of business and this delectable number was much better than a basic roll. The slaw was also better than basic, but not a lot. It appeared to be made in-house and had a good flavor but nothing otherworldly. Well take it for what it is – not Sysco, but not much beyond either.

We loved the shiny new Fish Fry at Hollander the first couple times we tried it, but some of the luster was missing this time around. The fish wasn’t as sumptuous, the fries were scarce, the tartar missed the mark, and while the supporting cast was good, it wasn’t enough to take things over the top. Overall, we don’t recommend the Fish Fry we had this time around, but will likely give them yet another shot to prove the spark isn’t totally gone. Why you ask? 1) The beer selection is impressive and I’ve liked all of them I’ve tried. 2) They have good vegetarian options (or at least have them, I have no idea how “good” they actually are). And 3) They are more kid-friendly than most bars or supper clubs. And hey, when you’re a dad and a husband of a vegetarian that stuff matters.
726 N Midvale Boulevard
Madison, WI 53705

(608_ 237-3168