103 S Main St
Downtown Lake Mills, Wisconsin
Between Madison & Milwaukee
South off of I-94
Your Fish Fry Review Crew landed in the middle of downtown Lake Mills on a recent Friday Night at Restaurateur Greg Carpenter’s Carp’s Landing. From the huge paper mache fish, which Greg refers to as “the largest fish ever caught in Rock Lake’s Mill Pond,” to Carp’s continental cuisine with a Southwestern twist, Greg Carpenter, Kathy Bradt and their experienced team deliver their simple, savvy menu within an historic, tastefully decorated building, anchoring the Southwest corner of Lake Mills’ beautiful Downtown Commons Park.
Carp’s hostess station is perfectly located to assure guests a friendly welcome. (Providing a proper greeting is often overlooked by many restaurants. Having to dig your way through a crowd just to get your name in for a table is an immediate turn-off.) The spacious bar area is nicely lit and our order for drinks is quickly filled. We don’t wait long until we are comfortably seated in Carp’s main dining room. Huge windows afford a charming view of Commons Park, the heart of Lake Mills’ historic cityscape.
We are warmly greeted by our waitress and get down to the business of ordering our Smoked Brisket. Wait! Did he just say Smoked Brisket? I thought this was a Fish Fry review? I know, I know. But no review of Carp’s Landing would be complete without mentioning the tender, smoked specialty of the house which is served 7 days a week, including the Fish Fry. It is so popular that every fish selection on the menu suggests adding the Smoked Brisket for an additional charge. Do not deny yourself. Tangy, perfectly balanced sauce complements the slow smoked beef brisket that stands up to the best you will eat. Anywhere.
After ordering, we hit the salad bar. Everything was fresh and attractively displayed. Potato Salad, Cole Slaw and Rye Bread round out the Salad Bar. All were goof. But our favorite item was the pasta salad, with its delicious vinegarette base, fresh tomatoes, black olives and other fresh veggies. Perfection.
But what about the fish? We stuck to the Baked or Fried Cod and the Fried Perch entrees, which are served with choice of Baked, French Fries, Homemade Potato Pancake or Cowboy Beans. Lightly breaded and juicy inside, Carp’s Cod is top-notch. The flaky fish stands up well to the tangy tartar sauce. The Lake Perch at Carp’s is some of the best we have eaten. None of the “fishiness” sometimes evident elsewhere, we are told that Carp’s serves only LAKE Perch, never resorting to its ocean-dwelling cousin. This insistence on quality shines through the entire meal, especially when we attack the surprise Homemade Potato Pancake. Carp’s makes a limited number of potato pancakes every Friday. When they run out of the delectable treats, served with applesauce, try the Cowboy Beans, which include bits of the Smoked Brisket.
Other seafood entrees include Salmon (Char-Broiled or Bourbon Glazed), Grouper (Southern Fried or Blackened), Tilapia (Pesto Pan-Fried or Deep Fried) and Tempura Shrimp (with choice of Korean, Asian Garlic or Cocktail Sauce.)
Our crew was small this month, due to summer vacations. But if the delectable Cod and Perch are any indication, you can be assured of a fine dining experience at Carp’s Landing – Downtown Lake Mills. Did I mention the brisket?
Katie was the Executive Director of the Lake Mills Main Street Program from 2011 to 2019 and was the Secretary for the Jefferson County Tourism Council. In 2019, she retired to explore a new fashion degree and travel throughout the world. Katie was also a writer and contributed a great deal of copy for our website and printed guide. She was a great asset to our organization and we'll miss her!