One of my goals while I was in Wisconsin and Michigan was to eat some walleye. Walleye is a freshwater fish native to Canada and the northern U.S. I didn't know much about it, and still don't, but I knew that walleye was available in the Great Lakes region I was going to be in. Earlier in my trip, while in northern Michigan and northern Wisconsin, I'd been asking regularly for a place I could find walleye on the menu, without success. Many places served it at their "Friday Fish Fry," but I was not there at the right time.
|Drawing of a walleye from here.|
After Judy and I visited the Wisconsin State Capitol building in Madison, we visited the State Historical Museum across the street on the southwest side and happened to ask one of the clerks in the gift shop if she knew of a restaurant that served walleye. She thought The Old Fashioned did, just a block away on the northeast side of the capitol. She called and confirmed that they did and we immediately set out for it.
|A picture of the capitol as viewed from the University of Wisconsin campus near the law school.|
|A closer view of the capitol from the night before where they had a concert on the capitol grounds.|
I didn't know it at the time, but The Old Fashioned is the no. 2 rated restaurant in Madison on Trip Advisor (out of 735) and we would have one of my favorite meals of our trip there. The Old Fashioned focuses on serving Wisconsin style food, meats, cheeses, produce and Wisconsin specialties. It is a tavern and a restaurant, something we found commonplace there, and it was packed and slow, but worth the wait.
True to its vision of Wisconsin specialties, we noticed they had hand-made beer-battered Wisconsin cheese curds. I'd had some wonderful Muenster cheese curds earlier and having the curds be breaded and fried sounded like a great variation. They offered several types of dip and we opted for smoked paprika and tiger, which has a little bit of a kick to it. The cheese curds came out hot and mushy and melted in the mouth. They were WONDERFUL. As they cooled down they lost some of their allure. When still real warm and mushy, they were something to dream about.
I ordered the beer-battered walleye sandwich with shredded cabbage, shaved radish, and lemon caper tartar sauce on toasted bread. I chose haystack onion rings dipped in buttermilk batter as my side. The onion rings were salty, slightly crunch but still very moist and had incredible flavor. The walleye was moist, a mild white fish, and worked very well with the tartar sauce. The bread was a little crunchy from the baked butter coating the outside and served as a nice bit of slight crunch in comparison to the moist walleye.
Judy got a grilled vegetable sandwich with eggplant, portabello mushroom, roasted red pepper and zucchini, with goat milk chevre, and black olive tapenade, on toasted bread. The sandwich was thick with vegetables and very moist, unusual for a veggie sandwich. She also got rosemary potato salad as her side which was the only item we got that I thought was average.