Fish Fry Review: Hering's Sand Bar, Lake Mills

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Spend any time in Wisconsin, and you'll quickly identify several common threads that run amongst many of the communities, including: summer festivals (nearly every town has one), the ratio of bars/taverns to churches runs approximately 1-to-1, and the ratio of fish frys to bars/taverns is nearly 1-to-1.

Lake Mills fits this assessment to the "T" - they have an annual summer festival known as "Town and Country Days" (held on the downtown square, complete with carnival rides, parades, and so on), and they fit the bill for the church/tavern/fish ratio.

So, it was with great pleasure that I found myself in Lake Mills during Town and Country Days, and even more so that I ended-up at Hering's Sand Bar, enjoying a fish fry with some friends (truth be told, we skipped the festival and went straight to the fish fry).

Hering's Sand Bar is located on the far south side of Lake Mills, near the entrance to Sandy Beach. As such, the restaurant/bar is perched approximately 25 yards from the shores of beautiful Rock Lake, which affords some spectacular views, especially from the outdoor patio/deck.

We arrived at approximately 7:00pm - the height of fish fry feasting time - and put our names in for a table. We were invited to have a seat outside and to wait for our turn at a table. The bar was jammed - it took several minutes to grab a bartender and order a round of beverages. Tap selections were limited - Spotted Cow, Capital Amber, and a few of the typical "classic" beers (PBR, etc). Drinks in hand, we settled-in for the long wait.

We were eventually seated; I believe it was around 8:15 or so when our table became available. Luckily, we scored an outdoor seat, so it was worth the wait as the sun was setting, and the views were outstanding.

A frazzled waitress arrived to take our drink orders; we refreshed things and also placed an order for some cheese curds. She scurried off and returned approximately 10 minutes later with our drinks. The curds arrived shortly thereafter and were quite good, even if they weren't handmade - they were the battered white cheese variety, and were cooked quite well.

We placed our orders for fish - two orders of beer battered cod, one order of baked cod. Our waitress rushed back to the kitchen, order in hand, while we kicked back, sipped our beverages, enjoyed the weather, and shot the bull.

The food arrived after a fairly long wait - I believe it took approximately 30-35 minutes for our orders to appear. The baked cod looked great - generous portions of lightly seasoned cod. I sampled a piece and it was indeed quite good - flaky, firm, and fresh. Just the way it should be. The dish was accompanied by deep-fried green beans (which I didn't sample, but am told were "good.").

The beer battered cod came in two sizes: a 3-piece and a 5-piece. As I was starving, I went with the 5-piece and am glad that I did. My plate sported 5 average-sized pieces of heavily battered cod and a small accompaniment of standard-cut battered fries.


As you can see from the picture: the batter was rather substantial (although well cooked), and, the fish looks quite nice. Once I crunched through the crispy beer batter (which was slightly salty and just ever-so-lightly "charred" tasting, but in a good way), I found the cod to be excellent in every regard - flaky, firm, fresh, and super tasty. Despite the heavy batter, the fish still presented itself well, especially with a hit of lemmon and a spot of malt vinegar.

I made short work of the 5-pieces and the handful of fries. My dining companions polished off their dishes as well, and when our waitress reappeared, we all ordered some of Hering's infamous homemade pie. It is literally made from scratch on a daily basis by the owner's wife - and it is unreal. I had the peanut butter silk pie and was floored by how delicious it was. I'd make the 50+ mile drive for a slice any time. The crust is flaky, light, and obviously homemade. The filling was fluffy, airy, and not too sweet - it was perfect, and complimented the crust perfectly.

The 5-piece cod ran $14.95; a bit steep. The tap beers ran about $4 each, and the pie was $5.00, but worth every penny. We finished-off the evening with a pontoon boat ride around the lake.

Herring's = WIN

Food = 3.75 stars (pie = 5 stars)
Value = 2.5 stars (pricey, all things considered)
Service = 2.5 stars (rather slow; didn't see our waitress much)
MISC = 4 stars (great atmosphere and view)

In summary, I'd return here for fish, fries, and homemade pie any time. It's not really a top-10 fish spot, but it is quite solid. If you're looking for a solid fish fry outside of the Madison area, Lake Mills is easy to get to and I doubt you'll find a better restaurant in terms of view, atmosphere, and general food quality.

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This page contains a single entry by Steve published on July 15, 2011 3:56 PM.

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