Sunday, August 7, 2011

Green Owl Cafe - Madison, WI

The Deal: The Green Owl Cafe on Madison's Near East side may be a vegetarian restaurant, but it's a vegetarian restaurant in Wisconsin, so therefore, like any good Wisconsin joint, they offer a Friday night fish fry. The mere idea of a faux fish fry caused some controversy on our Facebook page, but I'm glad the vegetarians and vegans among us have this option. Just because you don't eat meat, doesn't mean you're not a Sconnie.

So anyway, the Green Owl's fish fry is $12.95 and includes two faux fish fillets, rosemary potatoes, coleslaw and tartar sauce and a choice of soup or salad.

The Food: My salad, while small, was light & delicious with a good balsamic dressing. My dining companion enjoyed a coconut corn chowder. The coconut was basically for texture, so the corn flavor was able to shine through.

Now for the moment of truth. I actually thought the "fish" was great. It was some soy product, so, no, you're not going to get a nice, flaky fish texture. Instead, I'd say the texture was more like a Chicken McNugget. The key was that the breading pretty much perfectly replicated the flavor of a traditional fish fry. The potatoes were excellent, with a nice rosemary flavor, they were soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Neither me nor my dining companion opted for the coleslaw or tartar sauce. Our waitress explained that both are made with a "vegannaise". That's cool, but my problem with mayo isn't that there might be animals products in it, it's that it tastes disgusting. Sorry mayo lovers, that's just how I roll.

The Flavor: I think the Green Owl must have been a house in some distant past. It's a bright and quirky little building with funky tables and veggie art. The waitstaff was friendly and efficient and, beyond the fish fry, the menu looked interesting. I'm not a vegetarian, but I'm willing to have the occasional meat-free meals. The stuffed red pepper entree sounds great and the haloumi cheese appetizer I had was delicious (although really, since haloumi cheese is pretty much the greatest thing on earth, you really can't screw it up).

The beer list was small, but interesting, as was the choice of cocktails, including a lavender/gin concoction and a nice summertime mango & passion fruit vodka drink. Refreshing!

Second Opinions:
77 Square
Eating in Madison A to Z
Happy Cow
Madison Fish Fry

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