OlyCOOL : An Olympia Blog

Fish Tale Brewpub

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Our visits to Fish Tale have kind of accumulated to a roller coaster ride: some decent ups; baffling Applebee-quality downs; loops. At least we‘ve escaped any subsequent nausea.

Where on the ride are we today? I don‘t think anyone would mistake Fish Tale for a gourmet destination, but that‘s not to say it doesn‘t have its place. Among its ilk it‘s right up there1, though one could probably argue the merits of said ilk. I am not averse to keeping the spot in the rotation for the most part, albeit as something more of a semi-regular destination.

There are things Fish Tale truly gets right. The service, for example. It is consistently fast and friendly, and the servers are knowledgeable about the menus. Low of a denominator as it might sound, it is not something to be taken for granted.

The locale has a nice vibe. It‘s unpretentious and it‘s well laid out, feeling very much like the after-work happy hour spot it is. And the beer? I wouldn‘t rank Fish as one of my favorite breweries, but they‘re at least pretty solid. Their seasonals tend to be good, and you‘ll do better here than you would at McMenamins. Plus, they have Spire on tap for those who prefer cider.

Which leaves the food, best described as… generic. After a recent downswing, that‘s a change for the better, and if this brewpub is more of a laid-back happy hour spot, then passable can be good enough. You‘re not really here for the food (I would think); that‘s more of a bonus.

The rockfish po’ boy I tried during our visit was for the most part fine. I mean, the fish could have stood being quite a bit less salty. It completely outflanked the remoulade which only function was to add calories. The pickled shallots made a decent effort to restore some sort of balance, and the bread wasn‘t too bad either — it managed to hold its contents without getting soggy.

As a meal there really isn‘t much more to say about it. It was fine as far as being something to nosh on with a beer, but not exactly something you‘d travel from New Orleans to sample.

A destination spot Fish Tale is not, then, but I really can‘t fault it for being a local stand-by. You won‘t have much of a memorable meal here, but the potential for a good conversation in a good space is definitely there.

And isn‘t that what it‘s all about?2

1 Not that Three Magnets generally holds a lot higher standard, spotty service aside.

2 I could argue that it‘s not.

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Rush In Dumplings

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Rush In Dumplings. Russian dumplings. Get it?

Awesomely ridiculous moniker aside…

Rush In Dumplings truly does live up to its name. You might not consider dumplings1 particularly take-out friendly, but they really are a quick, viable option to your standard Mexican or Thai fare. I can’t say for a fact that Putin grabs some on his way home in the motherland, but I like to imagine he does.

As for the dumplings themselves, they are what they should be: simple and hearty. You pick your filling—beef, potato, or a combo of the two—and then the style in which they’re served. The «Siberian classic» comes in a nice Sriracha vinegar, topped with cilantro and butter, and sour cream to mix in. Nothing earth shatteringly complex (nor should it be), but certainly a good combination of flavors.

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The dumplings themselves had a proper bite, and were not mushy at all. No sogginess to be found, even when dunked in the semi-spicy vinegar. The accompanying rye bread was good for soaking, too.

Somewhat surprisingly, the potato filling had a bit more of an oomph than the beef, so go the vegetarian route if you’re in the mood for something spicier. Plus, you can always add your own Sriracha2.

Rush In Dumplings might not be haute cuisine, and that’s a good thing. I don’t think we really need artisan dumplings. For a quick dish, you get exactly what is advertised here, with the added benefit of tastiness.

1 Aka «pelmeni».

2 And there are also curry and jalapeño cheese styles for those who want to go off the beaten path.

Want more from the «Restaurants & Bars» category? Of course you do! Check out the full listing.

The Creperie

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You know, maybe I just don’t pay enough attention, but as awesome as the new 222 Market—an «artisan food hub»—is, its opening surely seems have been kept a deep, hidden secret. The Olympian stories aside… The word of this spot should be slapped all over our faces, Sean Connery style. Which is what we’re doing now.

So! The Creperie is among the first places to open in the hub, and that’s good for all of us. Crêpes are awesome, and having the Bread Peddler open a crêperie just makes sense.

And it all is quite excellent. I mean, really good. Up there with something you’d find in a food mecca1.

The savory pancakes2 here are made from a buckwheat batter which comes with just a touch of sweetness to it. The end-product is something with a bit more substance than what you find in your standard wheat crêpe.

I tried the «Complete», served with an egg on top, and ham and cheese inside. Jarlsberg cheese at that, and bravo to whomever made that decision. Really. Jarlsberg is a nice, nutty cheese, always versatile, and it pairs well with buckwheat.

As far as a crêpe goes, the «Complete» was filling, and enough to be a meal in itself. Simple and somewhat rustic. Très chic!

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The seasonal special, a pumpkin crêpe—made from wheat batter—held a similar standard. An autumnal palate for sure, and while there probably was a touch too much cream (luckily served on the side), the dish wasn’t too sweet, thanks too some well balanced spices.

While a bit lacking in assertiveness, the service was friendly, and the interiors—French meets Pacific Northwest—made for a good surrounding. Inviting and classy.

All in all, then, a great experience, and a great way to kick off the 222 Market fact finding mission. The Creperie is something Olympia needs, and you should do us all a favor and make the spot a destination. It will make you a better human being.

1 A term annoying enough to be second only to «foodie».

2 Yes, crêpes are pancakes. Look it up if you don’t believe me.

Want more from the «Restaurants & Bars» category? Of course you do! Check out the full listing.

Obsidian

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There’s something kind of interesting about a family-friendly, quasi black metal spot with an awesome selection of waffles. Yes, Obsidian is different, and their coffee is something Count Grishnackh would approve of. (I mean, he might be a convicted murderer and all, but he’s also Norwegian, so I assume he has an impeccable taste in coffee.)

The beans of choice here are from Stumptown, and the Americanos were surprisingly good. Again: a family friendly, quasi black metal spot with an awesome selection of waffles. Obsidian is just not somewhere I’d expect to get a good espresso based drink1, yet the shots were pulled just splendidly, and the temperature of the Americano was just right.

As for the awesome selection of waffles, we recommend the fennel gruyere, though you can’t go wrong with the blueberry chevre if you’re jonesing for something a bit sweeter.

It makes sense in retrospect, I suppose, what with the darker Nordic theme. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised the coffee here is reminiscent of what one finds in Scandinavia, currently the epicenter of the hipper than thou coffee scene.

1 There were two dudes sleeping at different tables during our last weekend. Hanging with charming locals is how you roll here.

Want more from the «Restaurants & Bars» category? Of course you do! Check out the full listing.

Orca Books

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In our typical self-righteous, pretentious write-up of Browsers Book Shop we lamented our move to e-books, and celebrated our triumphant return to the physical media and the shops carrying its Luddite form.

And here we are again, this time at Orca, with an out-of town, book-loving Friend of Team OlyCOOL™. The fact she picked up a few books there is a testament to the shop and its selection1.

I, too, have procured some interesting finds here. A collection of Lovecraft I’ve never seen before, for example, and I got the first volume of Knausgård’s My Struggle. Oddities and mainstream—it’s all good and it’s all there.

Running around looking at old biographies and odd science books is entertaining, too. Not to say I’d pick up any of either—though, then, who knows?—but it’s always fun just to browse around.

The shop’s only real issue is how it’s organized. Being a bit all over the place is not a bad thing as far as random perusing goes, but it can be daunting looking for something specific.

That aside… There’s a store cat, which is kind of awesome. You’ll find him in all kinds of random spots, be it on top of a shelf or wherever. I suppose that could be a bad thing, if you don’t like cats, but then that’s a bit sad, too.

We like the shop, then. And to loop back to e-books: Orca has them, through Kobo. Should you not be familiar with Kobo, they’re pretty much identical to Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks. The main difference is they work with independent bookstores. In other words, you can buy e-books from Orca’s site and read them on the tablet of your choice2.

The best of both worlds in other words!

1 I think. She seemed excited.

2 Including Kobo e-readers.

Want more from the «Bookstores» category? Of course you do! Check out the full listing.

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