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Nothing fishy about it

Fish Tale Brewpub serves organics the right way

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ANNOUNCER: Brewpubs may be a dime a dozen, but Olympia still has one of the best in the state.  The Fish Tale Brewpub, saddled up next to the Fish Brewery, recently donned a new dress. It’s now a gorgeous two-level eatery with plenty of bar space for its unique brews, ciders and other delights of the earth fermented for extra fun.

JASON: Hey, Mr. Announcer Man is stealing our thunder.  Why do we bother?

JOSH: For the free food, duh.

JASON: The Fish Brewing Company, brewer of Fish Tale Ale and other brands, has carved out a nice niche in the downtown Olympia area.  The certified organic beers — 14 on tap at any time — include brands such as the Wild Salmon Organic Pale Ale, Mudshark Porter and Trout Stout.  While Fish Brewing Company’s beer is well-known outside the South Sound and has won international awards, the brewery also operates a lesser-known and beautiful restaurant for the over 21 crowd dubbed the Fish Tale Brewpub.  On the pub’s Web site, the company has this to say about themselves: “We at the Fish Brewing Company believe that a pint of fresh beer served with fine food is what life in the Great Pacific Northwest is all about. We are proud to be a part of that tradition.” 

JOSH: (Tears in his eyes) Beautiful. I have called the Fish Tale Organic Ale and Mudshark Porter friends for years. The brewpub sells images of these friends that I can hang behind my home bar.  Thankfully, souvenirs come in all sizes as my home bar is really just a cabinet.

JASON: Sad, but true.

The brewpub operates on a hard concrete floor surrounded by touches of Northwest colors.  The tables are thick and solid, but in the back you’ll find some couches and alcoves.  The bar faces the entrance and then wraps around to the back where there are more stools and what used to be a tasting area.  To the right of the entrance is the glassed in kitchen and large stainless steel brewing vats. 

JOSH: The food variety impresses. Fish Tale Brewpub keeps with its organic roots by offering several organic and “earthy” type meals such as organic chicken wings, fries and hummus for starters.  But it also offers some dishes that surprised me, such as an ostrich burger, prawn tacos and a wild salmon smoked sandwich.

JASON: They’ve blended well the whole “I’m here to drink, but I’d still like to eat finely crafted food” philosophy.  That’s apparent in the choices and the preparation.  I couldn’t, however, shake the fact I was in a pub, and I tended to order those items that are characteristically found in a brewpub. On my first visit, I fired up the organic beef burger.  The large patty was sandwiched between an Italian bun and topped with a thick slice of tomato, lettuce and pickles.  The meat was lean and the toppings fresh.  Fish Tale’s Blonde Ale complements the nouvelle tavern fare.

JOSH: Speaking of, er, compliments, I must extend some to the waitstaff who whisked an item off the dinner menu to my table as an appetizer. The spinach stuffed mushrooms — eight large mushroom caps stuffed with spinach and walnuts and baked in a blue cheese sauce, all served with fresh baked bread to soak up the juice — were superb.  No tall fish tale.  Superb.

JASON: The side salad was a collection of organic greens, cherry tomatoes and carrots with a side of focaccia bread.  It doesn’t break new ground, but it’s on par with any top line bistro salad.  The Fishbowl salad, however, is the catch. This meal-sized delight features the organic greens with wild salmon, goat cheese, walnuts, apple slices, and croutons in a vinaigrette dressing.

JOSH: Hey, I had that too. Terrific, huh? I followed my salad up with the special of the evening, which was a fresh Chinook salmon filet topped with garlic butter and served with organic red potatoes and steamed vegetables.  The salmon was presented and cooked well (dark pink and wet; not many restaurants do it that way anymore), but it was a bit bland.  If it were not for the Mudshark Porter, my main course would have lacked substantial flavor. The potatoes were actually fried, which gave an interesting twist to what are normally just boiled with drawn butter poured over the top, and the veggies were a good mix of broccoli, green beans, yellow squash and zucchini. 

JASON: The fish and chips arrived thick with the cod hidden in cornmeal.  They were a bit soggy on the bottom, but they were fresh and mild so I didn’t mind.  The pub fries, however, were outstanding — shoestring with the skins on. They were crisp and addictive.

JOSH: Several fresh baked desserts were available. I chose the organic apple crisp served à la mode.  The serving was enough for two, but I ate it all.  Hey, it was tasty, filling, and crisp. What more can you ask for in an apple crisp?

JASON: Very cool pub.  Not very cool brother.

Take time to stroll the seafood art and beer souvenirs — They’re worth it.

JOSH: Yeah, my souvenir bounty has forced me to move some of my home bar into the cereal cupboard.

Fish Tale Brewpub

Where: 515 Jefferson St. S.E., Olympia, (360) 943-3650

Hours: Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight, Sunday noon to 10 p.m.

Menu: Organic as well, the food is a fine mix of typical pub flavors and natural, healthy ingredients. 

Scene: Northwest feel with heavy tables, lots of bar space and places to relax.

Drinkies: If you have to ask, OK — They brew organic, rich, full bodied ales, porters and more, plus ciders and natural nonalcoholic beverages.

Damage: Moderate

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