Fish Type: Whitefish Price: $9.50
Overall, I would recommend this Fish Fry.
|Fish Score: Good|
Potato Score: Excellent
Tartar Score: Excellent
Bread Score: Good
Miscellaneous Score: Excellent
Comment: This is one Fish Fry I wish I wouldn’t have put off for as long as I did. Truth be told, I always wanted to try Monk’s, but for whatever reason just never took the plunge. Finally I just had to say enough with it, and bite the bullet. Turns out, I’m glad I did.
Even though The Monk’s Retreat isn’t exactly known as a vegetarian friendly spot, I somehow managed to convince my wife that she would find something she liked. I crossed my fingers, and met her in Cross Plains at 12 o’clock on-the-dot. We were two of the first three patrons in the tiny bar this Friday afternoon, so we just took the two stools nearest the door and waited. The friendly bartender poked her head out of the kitchen and spotted us a second or two later, and when she swung by, I ordered a beer, and the wife some h2o. When she came back with the beverages I inquired about the “Whitefish” and the little lady about the Portobello Sandwich (which is no longer available, by the way). Satisfied with her explanation, I ordered myself the “Dinner plate” and m’ lady settled on the Caesar Salad.
Before the nine dollar and fifty cent plate of fish I was treated to some homemade slaw and a warm roll. The roll was one of those little football-shaped ones, which, while not out of this world, was soft and improved tenfold by the simple act of heating. While the roll was good for what it was, the slaw was even better at its job. It was clearly homemade and a obvious sign of pride for the establishment (apparently they have heard time and again that it is the best slaw ever). While I very much enjoyed the vinegary mix of fresh cabbage, carrots, and some sunflower seeds, I’m not sure I’d call it “the best,” but it’s certainly up there.
The “Alaskan Whitefish” came a short time after the “salad course” and was scalding hot when served. The four mid-sized pieces had a light golden beer batter which got a little greasy, but not overly so. Now, I’m not sure if Monk’s actually uses the species known as “Alaska Whitefish” or just one of the commercial species (Cod, Halibut, Sole, Pollack) classified under the same name, but whichever it is, the choice is good. The fish was extremely smooth, but had almost no inherent flavor of its own. Thus, it was an ideal canvass for The Monk’s flavorful beer batter. The fish was flaky and actually quite cod-like, only with not so rich of a taste. While the fish/batter combo produced some grease it wasn’t nasty tasting, and one one-time rotation was adequate - although last piece was pushing sogginess.
Partnering with the mystery fish was a side of hash browns with cheese and onion which were awesome. They featured a two-cheese blend, big onion chunks, and perfectly crispy exteriors. They were in a word, fantastic. The tartar was also extremely good as the mayo-heavy mix overcame the fish’s greasy excretions with a noticeable pop, and thick texture.
The Monk’s Retreat is cool place. I could tell from the second I walked in that I was going to like it, and they came through with flying colors. Overall, we recommend this Fish Fry and will be back again before long. The place is small, and I bet it gets pretty cramped on a Friday night, but wedge yourself in, grab a brew, and enjoy the pleasantries this small town tavern has to offer. We did.
1118 Main Street
Cross Plains, WI 53528