It's time for Dining Month, presented by Deer District and its spooky Halloween-themed alter ego, Fear District. Throughout the month of October, we'll be serving up fun and fascinating content about all things food. The signature dish, however, is our 2019 Best of Dining poll, who's winners we will dish out all month long. Get hungry, Milwaukee!
In this series, we're trying out some of the city's most popular fish fries. You'll find commentary, pro tips and ratings of the three staples of a classic Wisconsin fry: namely the fish, the potato pancakes and the classic Wisconsin-style brandy old fashioned. View all fish fry reviews here.
10634 W Freistadt Rd., Mequon
It’s been a while since I’ve driven to Freistadt, a small German community which is located along the western edge of what is now Mequon.
The little burg, the name of which means "free city" was founded in 1839 by 20 families who fled religious persecution in their homeland of Pomerania, Germany. Today, the area is home to Trinity Freistadt, the first Lutheran church established in Wisconsin, as well as a number of traditional German cultural organizations including the The Freistadt Alte Kameraden Band and the Pommersche Tanzdeel Freistadt.
It’s also home to Landmark Inn, the home of a beloved Friday night fish fry which has gleaned a notable reputation strictly by word of mouth (the restaurant has no web site nor an official Facebook page). In turn, guests should expect a wait of some sort on a Friday evening, despite the time of arrival. The crowds grow thicker during the Lenten season.
The building which houses Landmark Inn isn't quite as old as Freistadt. But it was built in 1891. As the story goes, it once housed the post office and likely a general store. These days it’s a bustling restaurant with a rustic Northwoodsy/Supper Club-esque vibe that has been manned by the Block family for the past three decades.
On Friday nights, guests can choose from beer battered haddock ($11.50), beer battered perch ($13.95) or breaded perch ($13.95), each of which is served alongside coleslaw, tartar sauce, rye bread and a choice of homemade potato pancakes, homemade German potato salad or French fries.
Pro tip: If you love New England clam chowder, Landmark’s is worth your while. It’s on the thicker side, but not floury, with a nice clam presence. You might also want to save room for dessert, which includes any number of housemade cakes, pies and tortes for right around $5.50 each.
Although intrigued by the beer-battered perch (which I’m certain I’ll try on my next go-round), I opted for the breaded, which is pictured below. The plate included four nicely sized lake perch coated with a crisp batter that wasn’t thick enough to obscure the flavor of the fish but which definitely went beyond a dusting of seasoned flour. It was lightly seasoned (definitely not too salty) and the fish itself possessed a fresh flavor and lovely texture.
Meanwhile, a hefty portion of beer battered haddock sported a delightfully light, crisp breading and moist flakey fish with a nice clean flavor and absolutely no sign of dryness. Again it was lightly seasoned, which allowed the flavor of the fish to shine.
The potato pancakes had a great texture; the potatoes were soft and the exterior crisp. They were thicker (probably about ¼ inch or so); but they still maintained a moderate level of lightness. To top it off, they weren’t at all greasy.
That said, the German potato salad was equally as delicious. It was warm and perfectly tangy with a hint of black pepper, bits of bacon and boiled egg. The texture of the potatoes was also fantastic with none of the mushiness that destroys an otherwise tasty potato salad.
The old fashioned
Meanwhile, the old fashioned was solid. It was moderately sweet with a fair brandy presence and distinct notes of clove and baking spices. It was well balanced with the appropriate bitter notes. Visually, there was no sign of muddled fruit, but the drink was somewhat cloudy and garnished with both cherry and orange.
Landmark Inn is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m.
Got suggestions for our next fish fry? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions. Suggested fish fry menus should (ideally) include at least one lake fish option (walleye, perch), potato pancakes and a stellar old fashioned.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.