An hour southeast of Madison in Palmyra, Peter Fritsch runs the state's largest trout farm and now he's added a restaurant.
An offshoot of Rushing Waters Fisheries, The Trout House officially opened Nov. 9.
"We are a trout farm at heart," Fritsch said. "Since we make food, grow food, produce food, we also wanted to serve it. That's kind of how it started."
Rushing Waters is set in the Kettle Moraine State Forest, and gets a lot of visitors in the summer. Fritsch said he opened the year-round restaurant to provide more experiences for those who visit.
In the summer, he has plans for bus tours and group tours of the facilities, were visitors can catch fish and then eat them on site.
The restaurant, attached to the fisheries' existing fish processing plant and smokehouse, features an open concept design, with a look that is part farm and part warehouse with exposed duct work, hanging barn lights, and solid wood tables that were handcrafted.
"It can be elegant or casual," Fritsch said. "Everyone's welcome and we're really happy with the space."
Both a smoked trout sandwich and a fried trout sandwich are on the lunch menu. The house soup is a smoked trout chowder. The Friday night fish fry features cod, but also fried trout. "And people are just loving it," Fritsch said.
"Most people haven't had fish this fresh, where it's caught the same day it's served," he said. "That's what really gives us an advantage."
The Trout House prepares a classic trout almondine for dinner as well.
The menu goes beyond trout with pastas, steak, chicken, and shrimp.
"We constantly change the menu," Fritsch said. "Right now we are doing a really nice pasta with a garlic sauce and broccoli raab."
The chef, Nathan Chappell, who is originally from the Madison area, was classically trained in New York at The International Culinary Center, which was founded as The French Culinary Institute.
"He is extraordinary," raves Fritsch. "He really loves fresh, local food."
With the Sunday brunch and its eggs Benedict with hollandaise sauce, Chappell gets to show off his French training, and for $14 everyone leaves stuffed, Fritsch said. "It's phenomenal, and very reasonably priced."
The Trout House, N301 County Road H, exemplifies the local food movement. "That's what our farm is all about," Fritsch said, noting that Chappell pairs the farm-raised fish with local, seasonal harvests from the area.
Farm-raised fish may get a bad rap, but Fritsch said visitors can drink out of his ponds. "People come out here, you see our spring water, our crystal clear water."