Review: North Atlantic Cod Filet Sandwich from Culver’s

With the lent in full swing, fish is the hot new item on every menu. Wendy’s has their Premium Fish Fillet Sandwich. Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. have their new Charbroiled Atlantic Cod Fish Sandwich. Arby’s has the Reel Big Fillet. And of course there’s the ever-present McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish (after reading all these product names, I can’t help but wonder is it “filet” or “fillet”? Come on copy writers, let’s get together and figure this out).Culver's BoxFor its part, Culver’s has two fish items: the North Atlantic Cod Filet Sandwich and the Northwoods Walleye Sandwich. For the purposes of this review, we’ll be looking at the cod sandwich, the more standard and time-honored of the two. Culver’s has proved stellar at portraying their food as not quite as faux as all the other fast food places, just-this-side of quality home cooking.  In this commercial about the North Atlantic Cod Filet Sandwich, Culver’s Co-Founder Craig Culver stands in a sunlit kitchen with a Swedish-looking man named Terje who is identified as a “Fifth Generation Fish Exporter.” As if this were a show on the Food Network, pieces of fresh cod are laid out on a wooden cutting board and Craig begins to hand-roll them in flour. As he works, Terje explains how they use only the part of the cod called the “cod loin” or “filet mignon of the cod,” which is the “thickest, flakiest part of the fish.” When the cod comes out of the fryer golden brown, Craig talks about how they dress it in a tartar sauce recipe that has been in their family for 40 years.  This isn’t your typical “Hey, this sandwich is good. Why don’t you try it?” fast food commercial. By the time that big, golden sandwich flashes up on screen, it has become clear that Culver’s has made a bet with you, a bet that theirs is “the best fish sandwich in the business,” and perhaps even on par with restaurant-quality fish. Game on, Culver’s. Let’s see if the North Atlantic Cod Filet Sandwich can live up to the hype.Culver's Fish SandwichAfter I picked up my sandwich from Culver’s ($5.25, a little pricey to me), the first thing that struck me when I opened the box was how small it was. I’m not sure what I was expecting, and the picture on Culver’s website and the picture I took of my sandwich don’t actually look that different, so maybe the way the sandwich filled the screen threw me off? I’m not sure. Either way, this sandwich wasn’t much bigger than your average fast food fish sandwich.

Here’s the Culver’s description:

Caught fresh in the icy North Atlantic, our cod is hand cut, hand battered and cooked to order. Topped with a Culver’s family recipe tartar sauce featuring olives, capers and sweet relish, crisp lettuce and Wisconsin cheddar. Served on a lightly buttered, toasted hoagie roll.

Beyond the fish filet, there wasn’t much adding to this sandwich. A smear of tartar, some soused green flecks trying to be lettuce and a few shreds of bright orange cheese glued together, half of which stuck to the bottom corner of the box when I took the sandwich out. The toppings weren’t much to look at, but the fish was a beautiful golden brown and this gave me hope. The smell was mostly a grease smell with an undertone of fishiness.Culver's Fish SandwichSince 90% of the lenten fish fries I’ve been to in my life have tended to serve up bland, tasteless cod, I wasn’t expecting much out of the fish by itself. Usually I rely on condiments and condiments alone to get me through – mostly lemon and tartar sauce. There was no lemon with the Culver’s sandwich, but I was hoping the tartar sauce Craig Culver was so excited about would save the day.  I took a bite…nothing. I took another bite…nothing. I took a third bite….maybe the sweet tinge of bread, but other than that, nothing. No taste. I could feel the flakiness of the fish, the grease filling my mouth, the hoagie bun tearing away in my teeth…but I could not taste it. Not the cheese, not the 40-year-old-recipe tartar sauce, not the fish. Just like at the lenten fish fries, the meal had no taste. Except this time there was no lemon to wantonly spritz all over my plate.Fish Sandwich from Culver'sI haven’t tried many fast food fish sandwiches so I’m not sure how Culver’s North Atlantic Cod Filet Sandwich compares to the rest, but I have to think it can’t be very high on the scale. Especially in light of that beyond-ebullient commercial, and for $5.25, this sandwich should have been a lot better. Game off, Culver’s, game off.

Pros: Soft, sweet hoagie bun. Good golden brown color on the fish.

Cons: No taste. At all.

Taste: 2.00/10
Value: 2.00/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 3.50/10
Price: $5.25

Overall GrubGrade: 2.00/10

More Info:
Nutrition Facts:
Calories - 663
Fat - 40g
Fiber - 1g
Carbs - 47g
Protein - 31g

25 comments on “Review: North Atlantic Cod Filet Sandwich from Culver’s

  1. Because_racecar says:

    So, as fate would have it, work had me travel to Madison this past Fri-Sun. Since being OCD with this site, I knew I had to try Culver’s 🙂
    I went last night and it was great!!! Had a bacon cheddar burger, fries, and root beer. I didn’t realize it was fast food but no complaints here. Actually, yes, I do. Tons of kids running around, being obnoxious, crawling over different booths, etc while the parents didn’t bat an eye. Then there were these Tweens talking extremely loud so it really killed my moment lol
    Nonetheless, I loved Culver’s! Almost debating if I should run up there real quick since I leave tomorrow.
    Also, side note, Madison is lame. No selling alcohol after 9?!?! Lame
    Oh and whoever on here recommended Ian’s Pizza. It was good! But kind of discombulated and people were confused at the salad/pizza bar.

    Ok I will shut up now lol

    • Zachary Jacob Zblewski says:

      Wisconsin state law prohibits retail liquor sales between 9pm and 6am, and retail beer sales between midnight and 6am.

    • Sam says:

      Culver’s butterburgers are awesome and so are their concrete mixers. I should have mentioned 90% of their menu is to-die-for.

      I like that you went to Ian’s pizza, too. Every UW-Madison grad comes away from that town with 3 things: a degree, a strongly-ingrained case of alcoholism and an undying love for Ian’s Pizza.

  2. SteveO says:

    Not sure how it gets a 2 out of 10 for taste if it has “no taste at all”.

  3. Culver's says:

    After I moved to my new place Culver’s has become almost a weekly thing for me as the burgers are decently priced compared to competitors. I went a couple days ago and it seems my go-to Cheese Triple went up to 4.99 and fries went up as well. 4.99 is the same as the wild Flamethrower burger from DQ, and I have to say I’ll probably head there instead next week. Also will give a Sonic or Wendy’s burger a shot next, but not sure which to pick.

  4. Ryan says:

    Cod simply does not have a strong taste, so this review is faulting the sandwich for failing to be something it can’t be. It’s a fine sandwich, and the fish is good, but like most of Culver’s menu, the price is exorbitant.

  5. Jonathan Wayne says:

    Have not tried the Culver’s fish sandwich yet, but I just ate the Wendy’s one an hour ago and it was atrocious. $4 and just terrible. Arby’s on the other hand is awesome.

    • Arby's Commercial Guy says:


    • Bren says:

      Have to say I disagree about Arby’s fish sandwich. I did not like the breading/coating at all. I much prefer Burger King’s fish sandwich (the unique bun is really nice but the tartar sauce is almost sour) or a Filet O’ Fish. I haven’t tried Wendy’s fish recently.

  6. Dave says:

    The “Culver’s Deluxe Double” (or even the single), plus onion rings, are what I’m hooked on at Culver’s. The best!!!… No other burger joints in the area can compare. Other items on the menu however, well, your mileage may vary…

  7. Kate says:

    Hi Sam, this is Kate for Culver’s. We read your review of your Cod Filet Sandwich and we have to say we’re pretty surprised. We’ve always prided ourselves on our quality fish sandwiches. Would love to talk more offline about this. Could you please contact us at We’d love to get a second chance!
    Thanks for your time.

  8. Chris says:

    I think this is an unfair review. I love their sandwich. It seemed that the author doesn’t like fish he likes lemon- Do you know what fish tastes like? I agree with ryan above me- cod isn’t fishy.

    I dunno- it just seems like he can’t appreciate the fish for what it is. Do you put ketchup on your steak?

  9. Robert says:

    Good fish tastes like nothing. Bad fish tastes like fish. Sorry, but it’s true.

  10. James says:

    I’ll agree that culvers is sort-of expensive for a lenten friday meal (you can get decent fried fish take-out at many restaurants/grocery stores/bars in the $8-10 range that will include 2-3 pieces of fish, fries/pototo salad/potato pancakes, cole slaw, bread/roll). With Mcd’s abandoning the 2-for promotions this year, it seems culvers is in the ballpark with other fast food. Just watch out for coupons – culvers has lots of them.

  11. Lulu says:

    I have had Culver’s North Atlantic Cod sandwich on a few different occasions and I was very pleased with it. First off, the sandwich I had did not come in a box (I ordered the basket). I thought the sandwich looked huge. It was NOT greasy, and it did not taste “fishy”. I have had other fast food fake fish sandwiches that taste strongly “fishy” and those are just plain gross. Culver’s tartar sauce is okay, but not very flavorful. If they were to add a bit of yellow mustard and some lemon juice to their tartar sauce recipe, get rid of the capers and olives, and up the amount of sweet relish it it, it would take this sandwich over the top (add some sliced tomatoes to the sandwich as well and it would be my “go-to” sandwich when I order fast food).

  12. Mike says:

    My only complaint (and it’s truly my own) is that I don’t like cheese on my fish sandwich. I know it’s Wisconsin and all, and if it isn’t blanketed in cheese something seems wrong, but on my fish sandwich I just want tartar sauce and some lettuce. So that’s how I order it. 😀

  13. Dawn says:

    Greasy and disgusting!

  14. Karen says:

    I’m in Florida, and Culvers is kind of new here. But maybe they’ve improved the fish sandwich over the two years since this was posted, because the sandwich I had was delicious.

    Yes it’s cod, and cod is never going to be as tasty as grouper or snapper. But most fast-food places serve nasty fish. This was good-quality, cut thick, and the batter was great (I actually tend to pick off most of the batter off fried fish sandwiches – I prefer grilled but most fast-food places don’t have that option – but after an experimental nibble I left this batter on.) I liked the taste so well I didn’t even add tartar sauce. I did ask for a piece of lemon though, and that was immediately provided.

  15. Nicole says:

    He is RIGHT!!!! Cod should be tasteless and flaky, but a vessel for delicious deep-fried breading. Which Culver’s Atlantic Filet is completely lacking. The batter looks amazing, is greasy, is crispy and tastes like NOTHING! The tartar sauce- I don’t even know how they managed to remove all taste from plain mayonnaise because it doesn’t even taste like that! It is completely and utterly void of taste. Wendy’s cod sandwich is amazing.

  16. It is regrettable that the cod fish sandwich is so bad at many of the Culver’s around the country. When Culver’s first opened here in Cheyenne, Wyoming, I tried the cod fish sandwich. It was not small such as specified in the comments above nor tasteless. I recommended this to several of my co-workers and they all agreed that it is great.
    I was raised in Florida and ate many pounds of seafood caught myself – fish on a fishing line, crab traps for crabs, nets for shrimp by the seawall and of course clams; so, I know what a good fish sandwich is suppose to be like. I really miss the smoked kingfish filets along US Route1 going down to Key West from Miami.
    When in Cheyenne, if ever, try Culver’s Cod Fish Sandwich.

  17. maxi says:

    Couldn’t disagree more with this review, 2/10 for taste? I order this sandwich and/or the platter often, and it’s very tasty. perhaps this reviewer should find another line of work? Culver’s tartar sauce alone has an reputation as some of the best in the business and I have tried for years to duplicate the flavor, so for him to claim that he couldn’t even taste that, preposterous.

  18. Rosi says:

    I have tried Culver’s Cod Fish sandwich and found it to be one of the best fast food fish sandwiches I have ever had. Crispy crust, flakey filet and delicious bun with tatter sauce. The critic either doesn’t like fish, or he hasn’t eaten very much to tell the subtle taste differences between fish spiecies.

  19. Jonn says:

    The farm fed cod doesn’t taste good at all.

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