Fish Type: Cod Price: $12.00
Overall, I would not recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Fair|
Potato Score: Fair
Tartar Score: Good
Bread Score: Good
Miscellaneous Score: Good
Comment: When I heard the Labor Temple Lounge on South Park Street started up a Fish Fry I was like "That place? Really?" It turns out that not only are they doing a Fish Fry, but they are taking it pretty seriously. There are several options to choose from and all of them have some flair. There's the Irish Style Cod, the Honey Fried Walleye, the Spicy Catfish, and the "Lake Perch" which was further called Ocean Perch in the description that followed (go figure). What's more, they cost $12 across the board which is kind of intriguing in and of itself. Since it was our maiden voyage, and I was sharing with the little man, we stuck to the basic cod with a side of fries.
They don't start serving until 5:00 in the Temple and our order went in behind probably a half-dozen or so already placed by folks sitting around the bar so it took a bit for our fish to fry. We got to sit and have a couple drinks and play with the pair of pups (yes service dogs are allowed in this bar) that freely milled about while we waited. Eventually the fish found us and we dug right in. The first thing I noticed was the cod had sat for a bit, apparently while a batch of fries were hastily prepared. A sizable amount of grease had leaked from the loins and left a small pool in the corner of the basket. That may or may not have been a bad thing as it seems that was all the oil that had stowed away. The fish itself wasn't greasy beyond that and had a dark, salty, and flavorful dark Guinness beer batter. The flavor was definitely there but the coting was too thick overall. There was a hoard of batter cling-ons and lots of excess to peel away to get to the stuff the little guy would actually eat. The cod itself had softened pretty substantially under the sleeping bag of batter and while it was edible I'd definitely branch out next time around.
As alluded to, the fries were criminally under-fried and likely rushed due to some ill timing. The cook was definitively in a crunch in the tiny kitchen although the portion was generous, so had they been allowed another couple minutes in the soaker they could have been a lot more. The tartar was homemade from the look of it and since it was on the thin side the cod soaked it up like a sponge. It had a pleasant flavor and added a cool zip to the salty fish.
A little poppyseed dusted roll was tucked away in the corner of the basket and you could almost hear it say in a muffled voice: "don't forget about me over here." With it's dense texture and sweet flavor we definitely didn't. Some of the most unique slaw we've ever come across finished things off with a bang, and while I liked it enough, my wife loved it. It was so diverse I'm not sure it even qualifies as slaw, as small proportion of cabbage was overtaken by kale, broccoli, and cranberries among other things. It was a hearty bite and I have to admit surprisingly tasty, and certainly unexpected.
I know the big red "not recommend" above might scare some people off, but it should come with an asterisk (*) in this case. The food was actually decent, but seemed to be more a victim of bad timing. The Labor Temple Lounge wasn't firing on all cylinders this Friday, but I have to imagine once all the cogs are in sync it runs like a well-oiled machine. Had we got everything freshly fried and fully cooked it could have been an entirely different ballgame. However, as it stands we can't recommend this Fish Fry, but will likely come back again to try some of the other options. I mean, that Honey Fried Walleye is just sounds too intriguing to pass up, and the bartender who served us drinks and bought out the food was a doll.
1602 S Park Street
Madison, WI 53715