Fish Fry Review: Revisiting The Nite Cap Inn

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It's been a little more than a year since we made the trek over to Palmyra's Nite Cap Inn, so when Mark suggested we take the drive for some potato pancakes I didn't hesitate to take him up on the offer.

We had originally planned to meet-up with one of our former managers (he was recently promoted to a director position with our sister company), but unfortunately, those plans fell through. No worries, we knew the Nite Cap Inn would knock our socks off, even without our full entourage in tow.

The drive from Madison to Palmyra takes you through some great little towns. We hit Cambridge (home to NASCAR star, Matt Kenseth), Milton, and Whitewater (Mark's home town) before landing in Palmyra. The scenery and the small towns make the 1.5-hour drive worthwhile.

We arrived to the Nite Cap promptly at 6:00pm and were shocked to find the place... empty. There were less than five cars parked out front, which was quite unusual. We wondered if they had closed, but were relieved to see someone exiting the restaurant.

We walked in and found an empty bar and a nearly empty dining room. The hostess asked us if we'd like to put in an order for fish, and we did, but not before inquiring about the deserted setting.

"I've worked here 23 years," said the hostess, "and I've never once seen it this slow on a Friday night. I think it's related to all of the homecoming activities falling on the same night."

Fair enough! The small crowd meant faster seating, so we didn't complain. Mark grabbed an Old Fashioned from the bar; I sampled a Sprecher Amber. And with that, our table was ready.

The Nite Cap treats its diners to some great rye bread - there was a small basket of this beautifully seasoned bread sitting on the table, along with a bowl of apple sauce, coleslaw, butter, and maple syrup. We had just finished a slice of the bread when our waitress appeared with our grub (you place your order with the hostess, and when your food is ready, you get seated at a table).

The fish looked superb - I went with the baked cod, Mark opted for the fried. Both of us chose the Nite Cap's signature side: potato pancakes. Folks, I'm not lying and I'm not exaggerating - the Nite Cap's potato pancakes are worth their weight in gold. Man, are they delicious.

Here's a really poor photo of the baked fish and a potato pancake:


With the fall season upon us and the sun setting quite early, I didn't have much light to work with, so I apologize for the photo. Trust me when I say that both the fish and the potato pancake were superb.

The baked cod is done "right" - not greasy, not drenched in butter, not overly seasoned, not steamed. It's so fresh and clean tasting - the fish really shines through here. Texture was spot on, flavor was perfect - everything about the fish was excellent.

The fried cod features a light cornmeal breading that works well with the fish. It's not too heavy, it's not overly seasoned, and it's fried to a perfect golden brown. I sampled a piece of Mark's fried cod and wow - excellent as well.

But... as good as the fish is, the potato pancakes are the real star of the show. I've never had a better potato pancake. These feature a wonderfully crisp "crust" with a perfectly flavored and just slightly chewy (and moist) interior. There's a hint of onion in there - just enough to let you know it's around.

The best part of it all? The entire meal is All You Can Eat, and boy, did we take advantage of that... I had 3-4 servings of baked fish along with 6-7 potato pancakes. Mark kept up as well, and the kitchen never once complained. Everything came out on cue, piping hot, super fresh, and incredibly delicious. Desserts were offered, but we passed, as our bellies were full of fish and potato pancakes.

The Nite Cap Inn = WIN

Food = 4.5 stars
Service = 3.5 stars
Value = 4 stars ($31 for two, with drinks)
MISC = 4 stars (superb supper club feel)

Summary: Definitely worth the 3-hours you'll spend driving roundtrip from Madison to Palmyra, and be prepared to wait a long time for a table on a normal night. This week's visit was definitely an anamoly. Get the potato pancakes and then prepare to be blown away (and disappointed with every potato pancake you'll have in the future). The Nite Cap scored a big win and will likely advance to a higher ranking than it previously held - this is some seriously good eating.

PS: While in Palmyra, stop by the local grocery store and grab some Rhinelander Potato Chips. We spied these while grabbing a soda on the way out of town... Rhinelander may be about the size of Palmyra, but somehow managed to score its own brand of chips... :-)


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This page contains a single entry by Steve published on October 13, 2010 3:40 PM.

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