via groups.google.com, I excavated a long-lost essay about a pleasant summer evening dandled by in the Seattle neighborhood of Fremont, MUCH changed these days. I originally wrote and posted this on or about July 29, 1996:
This Sunday, a friend, my sweetie, and I went a-crawlin (for a bit) in the republic of fremont.
The short of it is: Eat at El Camino. Walk by the canal when you visit Fremont. Have a drink at The George and Dragon. And don’t forget the Dubliner.
First stop was the new Latinesque joint, El Camino (look for the red neon version of the car logo). We started with drinks around, a margarita (tart! but strong) a Red Hook ESB (as good as a block from the brewery could make it, and served at the micro-approved temperature of not quite chilled) and of course a Negro Modelo.
Dinner was two fish tacos and a plate of Chicken Mole. The fish tacos were the special, grilled swordfish, and arrived as separate elemnts attractively assembled on the plate: shredded goat cheese, yogurt, whole baked/boiled (?) beans, rice, a salsa-thingy (not the salsa but the spicy veggies/onion/pepper deal, kinda pico de gallo), and hand patted corn tortillas.
Didn’t try the mole but the sauce was rich in color and aroma and was devoured quickly, as were the fish tacos.
The topic of the origin of mole came up and my pal said he’d heard it was invented on the occasion of a visit of a Spanish king to Mexico from fear that his Highness might not be able to deal wit the spicy fare. Any comments?
The crowd was Fremont hipsters, a mix between aged hippies and aging post-punks; the staff was gracious if busy, and the decor and ambience of the place made me wish I had worn a large straw hat as I drank tropical cocktails. There is a deck, but turnover was minimal, and so we stuck in the bar (which is distinct from the dining area). Spendy, tasty, worth it.
Next, we headed to the redoubtable Dubliner and found it redoubtable again. For those not in the know, the Dubliner was Seattle’s premier European expatriate’s bar for some time. A no-nonsense beer-drinkin atmosphere predominates, leaning just a tad to the “60’s music dominates the jukebox” theme. I try never to miss a visit when in the Republic. A beer or two later we went for a stroll.
Our stroll brought us to the banks of the ship canal where we watched boats and ducks. A couple shared a bottle of wine by the banks of the calm and shallow body of water, its poplar-lined banks bringing memories of early childhood in Boston unaccountably to my mind. Sharing a bottle of wine there with a sweetie seemed like a superior experience, but the mission we were on soon returned to our minds.
Strolling up the hill by the Trolleyman, the Redhook Brewery’s on-site pub, showed us it was closed, but we were not disheartened in the least. We continued on in search of an out of the way joint known by the name of the George and Dragon.
Formerly a haunt of fear known as the Midget Tavern (I have no idea, but I’d like to know, ok?) the George and Dragon is a couple blocks out of the way from the normal Fremont beer-belly zone. Head up 36th towards Ballard, and a block or two before the street angles over, but after the kink at Bitters Co. and Rudy’s, a parking lot, deck, and pub appear, looking vaguely industrial.
We walked in, and I noticed two things:
More UK brews than I recognized (a surprise and treat) and more drunken British, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh expatriates than I was inclined to shake Proposition 187 at. We had scored. This was the bigtime in a pub crawl, the local joint that defies expectations and exceeds reasonable standards with out currying the favor or the trade of loafer-wearing yuppies.
The crowd was mostly from the UK (I had trouble understanding the English spoken by a couple of people there), mostly working-class, and mostly rowdy, but in a different way than the good people at the Midget Tavern used to get rowdy (or so I favor myself by presuming); I did not ever feel a serious fight was about to bust out while we sweated on the deck, savoring or brews: a striking light bitter featuring a nitrogen tap for the creamy-fine head we associate with Guinness, called “Green King”.
I thought it was appropriate to drink that brew in the former Midget Tavern as I must presume that the Green King is the leader of the Little People.
All in all, the G&D was a remarkable bar, and I unhestatingly recommend it to those among us who savor taverns and pubs. It manages the tricky feat of being everyday and extraordinary all at once, and deserves your trade…
See you in Fremont, where you can find me looking for the Lenin statue…
P.S: the Pacific Inn will get the treatment soon! I swear!