Fish Type: Cod Price: $13.50
Overall, I would recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Excellent|
Potato Score: Good
Tartar Score: Good
Bread Score: Poor
Miscellaneous Score: Excellent
Comment: I don't have informants per se, but I do know some guys (and gals as it were). These are foodie friendly folks, and as a Fish Fry guy they clue me in when they hear of new places on the Madison food scene...specifically Fish Fry places. One of those places was Brennan's... yes that Brennan's. All of Madison was saddened when the venerable market decided to close the doors of all their stores in town, and it seems like the ownership heard those cries. The Watts Road location recently re-opened and with it came a Friday Fish Fry. Our "spies" clued us into the fact that they were back (and better than ever) so we scooted over there the first chance we got to see what all the fuss was about.
Brennan's has more of an artisan flair than your average grocery store so you'd expect their Fish Fry to follow suit (and it does). They feature a $13.49 3-piece cod from Bering Bounty, which is wild caught and it shows (they also have a 2-piece cod or shrimp available). The fish was flaky, and pure white, with no skunky, slimy, or translucent pieces. Sure, it's a little pricier than average, but as they say - you get what you pay for. The pristine fish was enrobed in a dark beer batter than looked burned to the naked eye, but was anything but. The batter didn't have a ton of flavor, but enough to paint the cod into a new frame of thought. Minor amounts of grease leaked from the loins, but not near enough to peel the batter from the meat. This was good, solid cod and a valiant effort for an initial foray into Fish Fry.
The Friday Fish at Brennan's comes with some potato cubes and there is no other option. These spuds had a dark crust, but like the cod were not burned. They were enhanced ever so slightly by a generous dose of garlic which took them up a notch without overwhelming the senses. Despite their stout stature they were soft and supple, but didn't blow me away. In all honesty, I'd take French fries over them 10 times out of 10.
A standard Solo cup housed some homemade tartar which was on the thin side texture-wise. Soupy sauces like this usually miss me altogether, but this stuff had a nice flavor and still somehow clung to the cod. It was almost like a tartar syrup as opposed to the Portland cement versions we tend to prefer.
Some superb slaw came in a 4 oz Solo cup and went down smooth and easy. It had a great flavor and struck the perfect balance between crunch and zing which so many slaws fail to do. Unfortunately, no bread came with the fish which was the only real downfall to the meal. Sitting in their cafÃ© and smelling the deli was a definite plus though.
Brennan's is one of those places that define Madison. People know it, they love it, and when it threatened to go away they took notice. I for one an glad to see they are back in one form or another, and even happier they brought a Fish Fry back with them. Overall, we recommend this Fish Fry and will definitely come back again after they've has a little more seasoning.
8210 Watts Road
Madison, WI 53719