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Restaurant for Oly Group Dinner

We'll have twelve people for dinner after my daughter graduates from Evergreen in June ranging in age from 19 to mid-60's. We're coming from Miami, Bay Area and the mid-west.

Having had two children graduate from this college, I'm well aware that Oly is not a food town (my son worked his way through school in restaurants). We'll be "eating in" on Thursday and hosting a party Saturday.

A view of the water would be great for Friday but it would be great if this didn't totally break the bank.
Thanks for any thoughts!

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  1. How about the Fish Tale Brewpub at 5th and Jefferson?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Tripeler

      I haven't been there recently, but the last time I ventured in (a few years ago) the Fishpub was incredibly loud. I imagine a party of 12 would break up into small fragments, people screaming into their neighbor's ears. And the food wasn't anything special either. (But I like the bitter ale they've added to their beer lineup.)

      Also to be avoided, despite its wonderful water view, is Hearthfire. I had dinner there a few weeks back: pretty awful fare, and if anyone in your group is a vegetarian they will not be happy.

      Actually, if you want pub fare not too far from Evergreen and don't mind the rather mundane decor, Iron Rabbit isn't bad. Not inspired but not bad. Good tap beer selection, if not as deep and trendy as Skep & Stein across the street (which doesn't have food).

      As you know, eating out in Olympia is a conundrum. Maybe the true Greener eatery is Tofu Hut -- except that it borders St. Martins.

      Congratulations to you and your daughter, by the way!

    2. Tugboat Annies ? If that's too casual, there's:

      - Anthony's Hearthfire Grill

      - Anthony's HomePort Olympia

      - Budd Bay Cafe

      I think Budd Bay would suit your stated needs:

      http://www.buddbaycafe.com/buddbaypho...

      7 Replies
      1. re: LotusRapper

        We've done all the above except Budd Bay, just to point out. The more I think about it, being your daughter's grad, it is a special occasion after all, then Hearthfire would do quite nicely:

        http://www.anthonys.com/restaurants/d...

        1. re: LotusRapper

          I brought this up many years ago, but the big, enduring problem with the Olympia food scene, in my opinion, is that locals can't seem to differentiate between the trappings of quality (a restaurant that looks like it should be special or has a pretentious menu) and one that actually delivers quality food. Even well-meaning establishments come up against the shortage of kitchen staff who can reliably turn out well-prepared meals night after night. And with no repercussions for shortfalls in quality, there's no incentive to do anything about it. So every year it's the same: trappings of sophistication here and there, but hardly a good meal to be had, at least not consistently.

          Why is Olympia so much more deficient in this respect than other cities? Are we really all rubes?

          Sorry for the rant, folks, but why should I have to leave town if I want to treat someone (or myself) to a good meal?

          (But Olympia's a pretty good town for cooking ingredients, so maybe it's not a problem.)

          1. re: yummers

            My son opened Iron Rabbit! It was his first experience in a kitchen and he worked his way up.. I have a feeling if we went there, my son might take a pass ;-)
            He also spent a few years at the Water Street so we've run the gamut.

            I think Antony's Hearthfire or Budd Bay are our best bets. I've been a little skeptical of Budd Bay as it's the room service restaurant for The Phoenix. We'll give it a shot.

            If anyone comes up with something that has yet to be considered, please chime in and thanks so much!

            1. re: Oakland Barb

              We stayed at The Phoenix last summer, as they were going through extensive renovations, so they're definitely trying.

              But Anthony's and Hearthfire shouldn't disappoint as they have a standardized, consistent level of quality to maintain.

            2. re: yummers

              I soooo agree! I think it has to do with people here unwilling to pay the price for a really good meal that is creative, interesting, QUALITY food. Anything over $25 seems to simply unnerve people - that's so expensive! - and they can't imagine that anything is worth that. My experience is that they will (grudgingly) pay $10-$15 for lunch but anything more than $25 (not including drinks) for dinner is just beyond the pale.

              I love Hearthfire's building - it's beautiful (tho I did notice on a recent visit that upholstery/carpets were looking a bit worse for the wear) - but their food is rarely worth getting excited about; true for so many places around here. My favorite two places here are The Bread Peddler and 5th Avenue Sandwich Shop, neither of which is appropriate for the OPs needs, of course. But both places emphasize quality and freshness in their preparations; they don't have a lot of food that is held for the 2nd and even 3rd day to be served until it's gone (which is SO common here, and maybe everywhere).

              Having moved here from the Bay Area a few years ago, it is one of the very few things I miss.

              1. re: Toots4120

                We're planning The Bread Peddler for breakfast and lunches. I agree; it's the only place I've ever found of note in the area.
                And Hearthfire it is for the dinner. It may not meet my culinary desires but the view is great and I'm guessing the crowd will be forgiving.
                Thanks to all who replied.

                Now I'm in the process of figuring out how much I can get away with "not" cooking for the grad party on Saturday night!
                I'll have limited cooking facilities and want to spend time with the family who's visiting from out of town.

                Thinking a mix of things I pick up from Seattle on my way in, grilling- any ideas are greatly appreciated here as well!!

                It's hard to know how many we'll have as my son is inviting friends as well. Maybe up to 50 but you never know...

                1. re: Oakland Barb

                  Good plans! As far as informal food in Oly: Top Foods (now called Hagen Foods, I think) is on the west side of Olympia (same side of town as Evergreen) and it has a pretty decent deli section: good salads, sandwiches, etc. Tho it will cost a bit, Bread Peddler also does some great catering. Fifth Ave Sandwich Shop, which I mentioned above, has some wonderful bakery items: breads, cookies, pies (!), desserts, etc. and tho I don't know if they are open on Saturday, they now have a separate bakery a bit up 4th that carries some of the things from the cafe. (You might have to order ahead of time?)

                  Enjoy! The weather should be nice - and when it is, it's even better than the Bay Area!