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… and to all a good night!

Musings

It was a good-ish run for the site, but Team OlyCOOL has left town, and relocated to Seattle. Who knows, though, we might be back? For now, follow us at Tortillaphilia—A Guide To Things That Matter!


Wicked Pies

RestaurantsOlympia

Let’s talk pizza, as all people of good manners do.

Wicked Pies started out as a truck, and has recently opened a brick-and-mortar location. Other places have had good luck with this in the past, and Wicked neatly follows their tradition. The pizza here is good. Very good. Enough so I’d put it as a viable alternative to Vic’s, which I don’t do lightly.

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As so often is the case, it’s all about the crust. Here, Wicked serves one that looks oddly white, almost to the point where you’d expect it’d be doughy. It’s not. Instead, the outside has a crunchy bite, giving way to a chewy center. It’s what we collectively, as a society, should want: a crust for the people.

The flavor is spot on. Any proper crust, with olive oil or another favorite accouterment, should be able to be enjoyed by itself. Wicked passes that test.

Crust aside, the pies as a whole are tasty. The White Lodge comes with a rosemary potato base, which, when paired with Gorgonzola, has a pungent profile in all the right ways. Fortifying it with olive oil creates a surprisingly light, yet solid palate. It’s not what food comas are made of, despite what the ingredient list might suggest, and it’s impressive that the potent flavors don’t come through as a smack in the face.

Also worth a look are The Log Lady Breadstyx, which, as one may (or may not) expect, are served as logs. The addition of either mozzarella or pesto is laudable, but the logs could easily be enjoyed al natural.

True, naming the menu items after Twin Peaks might be a bit played out, but I’ll give them a pass. I mean, it’s Twin Peaks. Come on!1

The prices are a titch higher than at some spots — $14.75 for a cheese — but the quality of the ingredients holds its own.

Take out or eat in — the locales are charmingly sparse, not unlike pizza spots we’ve seen in both Northern and Southern Europe. Nothing overly fancy, just a comfortable space.

It worries me that Wicked isn’t too busy. I suppose it is hard to spot in its anonymous Franklin location, and competition from the well-established Old School must take its toll, too. Therefore: Do us a solid, and give Wicked Pies a try. It’s a pizzeria that deserves to flourish, and its pies are vastly different from Old School’s. Downtown Olympia’s food scene could stand some differentiation2, and high quality picks like this can only benefit all of us.

1 It only seems appropriate, Seeing The Return revealed Olympia as the starting point of the Blue Rose case.

2 Say what you want about Lacey, but their food scene both varied and international.



Nightshade

RestaurantsSeattle

I get the impression that Bremerton, the largest town on the Puget Sound Kitsap Peninsula, was quite the happening place back in the day. The downtown area is not big, but its density suggests it once upon a time was lively. These days, little is left of what once might have been, but with new developments around the ferry terminal, and a relatively burgeoning arts district, there are signs of better things to come.

It makes sense. Seattle housing prices are blasting past what an average worker can afford, and moving across the sound could serve as an alternative to the outskirts of King County. A quick ferry ride isn’t worse of a commute than anything Seattle has to offer, provided the place you venture from has something going for it. Bremerton isn’t there yet, but if spots like Nightshade keep popping up, it could get there.

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Step inside the café, and there is little to suggest you’re in a forgotten naval town. The interiors are as comfortably Pacific Northwest as anything you find in Seattle or Portland, and the menu has a large selection of vegetarian options. Even the clientèle is young and happening enough to suggest that Bremerton’s arts district strategy is working. You can get jars of Jean-Claude Van Jam here, which should add enough detached irony to please even the most discerning hipster.

The food matched the standards of the interiors during our visit, and my chorizo breakfast burrito, while not exactly a steal at $15, should be a solid entry in any tortillaphile’s repertoire. The beef was locally sourced from Sequim’s Clark Farms and was well enough seasoned to not disappear in a sea of ranchero sauce. Granted, I’m not sure the latter came as advertised, as it leaned more toward being a kicked up tomato sauce. That might sound odd (largely because it is) but it worked for me, and the result was a lighter meal than I expected.

Inside the tortilla, the potato mix had the right bite: not too firm; not too mushy. The hardiness of it and the meat contrasted the fluffy eggs and a sour cream/salsa mix within a balanced flavor palate.

The burrito wasn’t necessarily life-altering, but it certainly wasn’t worse than the baseline in larger, regional cities. Hop across the sound, and the equivalent meal would be comparable in quality.

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Props, too, to the fry bread, which was not your typical county-fair offering. Nightshade’s take was not deep-fried beyond recognition, and instead approached something akin to fluffy and rich.

The restaurant, then, feels a whole lot more urban than what one would expect from Bremerton. It isn’t the poster child of a brave new town, but instead for what it strives to be. Bremerton is not yet a young and happening commuter town for those looking for a bustling life and work balance, but there is no reason for it not to get there if things keep moving in Nightshade’s direction.



5th Avenue Sandwich Shop

RestaurantsOlympia

You won’t find 5th Avenue Sandwich Shop on 5th Avenue, but rather on Legion. Go figure, but the new location does, if nothing else, present the potential for an eventual re-branding to Legion Avenue Sandwich Shop, which would be kind of bad-ass. It’s probably a better name-street combination for marketing purposes, too, but I digress.

The shop is anonymously located in what looks like a vintage brick apartment building, and only an unassuming awning alerts you of 5th’s existence. Enter through an eerily empty hallway, and you’ll eventually find what is a classy looking joint. The age of the building does indeed give the interiors a distinct vibe.

While it won’t set the world on fire, the food holds its own. Granted, waiting fifteen minutes for a sandwich is a tad excessive, and a $12 price point for a meal (fries, but no drink, included) is beyond the high end of reasonable.

I gave the Hot Oly a shot, a sandwich I assume 5th’s attempt at creating an Olympia signature. I’m not sure the result is entirely successful, and the shaved beef, cheese, and pepper sandwich seems decidedly more Philadelphia to me. Still, the meat is decently seasoned, and it’s hard to argue against the jalapeño, pepperoncini, and onion trifecta. It adds a kick when combined with a zesty, Whiz-y cheese. (If that’s a good thing or not is entirely subjective.)

The bread, meanwhile, does not do it for me. It is possibly baked in-house, and if that is the case, the aspirations seem to not amount to much more than the Subway standard. Bread without flavor is not something that makes me happy, and you’re on pretty thin ice if you get that basic wrong.

On the flip side, props to the fries, which are tasty and have a good bite to them.

5th isn’t all bad. It’s certainly better than Meconi’s, though that isn’t necessarily a high bar. I don’t think the spot should be entirely out of anyone’s sandwich-shop-rotation, deep as it may sit. The sandwich is decent, but the price and bread hold it back from the quality we feel we deserve.