Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mariner's Inn - Waunakee, WI

The deal: As a seafood restaurant on the north shore of Lake Mendota, the Mariner's Inn has a good selection of Friday night fish specials. The traditional fish fry is simply cod with french fries, but you can also opt for lake perch or broiled walleye. These options are a little pricier, but include soup or salad, dinner rolls and a choice of potato. If you opt for the regular fish fry, you can upgrade to to better sides and add a salad for a small charge.

The food: Our server gave the walleye a rave review, and as a Central Wisconsin girl, I had to try it (let's hear it for Nekoosa's Walleye Days!). It was simply the best fish I've had since starting this site. The fish was flaky and yet a little crispy around the edges with a slightly spicy lemon pepper flavor. I had a part of my companion's beer battered cod and it too was absolutely delicious. It was crispy without being greasy. I have no idea how the kitchen accomplished this miracle, but I'd like to thank them for it!

If you go to the Mariner's Inn, I must insist that you get their hash browns with your meal. They're served family style and are so good that a formerly loving family will fight like hell for the last spoonful. They're creamy and crispy and every other good adjective that starts with "cr".

The salads were okay, nothing bad, but nothing special while the rolls were sweet and dark and (gasp!) served warm. The fish here was so good that to be honest, I didn't even care about the salad, slaw and rolls. The Mariner's Inn wasn't exactly grasping for bonus points, you know?

The flavor: Although the restaurant is huge, we had to wait for a table for a long time. Unlike many fish fry joints, the Mariner's Inn's bar is a little more classy and quiet than it is fun. Oh don't get me wrong, the staff is nice, but the bar is just a little dull.

The crowd leans a little on the old side, as do some of the waitstaff. I felt like maybe we could all trade stories about the Ice Bowl. Well, maybe we could have if I was enjoying one of the Early Bird Specials ;-)

Second opinions:

Madison Fish Fry
Yahoo! Local

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