Bert’s Tavern – Bothell, WA

Bert’s Tavern is a little watering hole on Bothell-Everett Hwy, between Thrasher’s Corners and Mill Creek. I’ve gone past it many times over the years we’ve lived here and always wondered what the place would be like. Last summer I decided what the hell, stopped in for a beer, and never left. I mean I even have a cot and everything. Okay, maybe that’s stretching it a bit. I have left, but usually only to come home and change clothes once in a while. The place even inspired a little blurb I wrote , “Old Men, Stories and Beer”. What can I say? It’s home.

It’s been home from the first day I walked into the place. Sure, like any neighborhood place, the regulars might take a little while to get to know you. If you don’t feel like talking, they’ll leave you alone. If you want to jump in to a conversation however, you’ll soon find yourself being treated like one of the gang. To be honest, it’s these regulars that really make Bert’s one of the best pubs in the area. Let’s face it, it’s cheaper to drink beer at home, so there has to be a reason to get folks out and into a place. In Bert’s case, it’s the people.

Not to say the drink prices aren’t friendly as well, because well, they are. Happy Hour is a bit complicated, so I recommend asking the bartender how it works. I can say it goes from 3-5pm every weekday though. Non Happy Hour prices are a good 10-25% cheaper than some of the surrounding places. Beer selection is good, with 6-8 good brews on tap, and a good selection of cans and bottles. In addition they have all your favorite harder libations and you won’t find a place anywhere with a healthier pour than Bert’s. If you manage to make it in on one of the “special” days, you may find yourself munching down on some killer smoked salmon made by one of the guys.

The place itself has some stink on it. You’ve heard me use this term, coined by my friend Kelly, to describe a well used, well liked pub. In fact, I met Kelly at Bert’s. See? Stink is good man. Inside of the place it’s dark. A U shaped bar fills the center of the pub, with tables and a dance/band area. For you Golden Tee freaks, the latest machine stands proudly against a wall. Get there early unless you want to play with some sharks. The guys are good. There are also dart boards, pull tabs, and video crack machines to keep you occupied. But I think you’ll find it more entertaining to chat with the gang. You just may learn a new place to catch salmon, or get the inside scoop on the latest NFL news. Out back there is a huge outdoor patio area with sliding awnings for our less than perfect weather. In the back yard there are 2 regulation horseshoe pits, and even more mingling room.

Bert’s Tavern. A hell of a good pub, and a hell of a good place to call home.

Gregor

Old Men, Stories and Beer

We gather daily in the dark cave like bats returning from a night of foraging. As we settle into our roosts and eyes adjust to the familiar murkiness, beers appear and pleasantries are exchanged. “Good to see you, John.” “Good to be seen Mike!” “How are you feeling today Bob?” “With my fingers as usual!” Laughter rises to join the nicotine stains on the ceiling. Old retired men, some by choice, others forced into it by a world that favors the “New and Improved” over the “Tried and True.” We gather here to dull the floundering of our lives with beer and bourbon. Souls gone wandering, but not yet lost, using each other as anchor lines to sanity.

Joe shows off his missing front tooth, proudly explaining how he yanked it out himself using pliers. “Ain’t got no insurance so…POP! Done!” I cringe a little but offer up the strongest “Right on!” I can muster.

Burl shows up with 2 baggies of freshly smoked salmon. “Caught these last week, aint any fresher!” He passes the bags around then grabs a beer. Damn good fish! Damn good! The salty tang going perfectly with the IPA. Better than store bought, that’s for sure.

Talk around the bar settles into a low drone as the old men discuss the salmon, where the best places are, how much better the fishing was 40 years ago, what the best bait is. Karl starts talking about his days as a crabber while eyes roll. Karl has told this story so many times we all could recite it, but it’s okay. Karl is old, he’s entitled here. This cave lost too many bats over the past year. Cancer, age, accidents. Karl is close and we all know it. Better to hear his old stories today.

I glance up at the TV to watch the noiseless words flow from the talking heads. Old men, their stories, and a beer. I smile a little and go back to listening to Karl, nodding along with the others, and adjusting the anchor line.

Gregor

Old Men, Stories and Beer Pt II

Leavenworth WA – Day trip

This past Saturday Beth and I headed up into the mountains for a day trip to Leavenworth. Leavenworth is like a lot of small mountain towns. Formed when the railroad came through, Leavenworth was a happening town in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Then around the 30’s or 40’s, things changed. The railroad changed direction, and the main source of income, the sawmill, shut down. The town was hanging on by the proverbial thread when, in the early 60’s, community leaders decided the only thing that would help was tourism dollars. The town sits in an area that is very reminiscent of Bavaria, so they remade the town into a little bit of Alpine goodness, and the rest as they say is history.

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Ribs and Collard Greens

Okay, now that I’ve reviewed one of the local BBQ places, it’s my turn for BBQ and Greens. I’m a just little hesitant to share this to be honest. Every time we’d have a cook out, everyone asked for the secret to my ribs. But I figure at this point, what the hell. To be honest. it’s really nothing more than technique, no secret recipes or anything. I do have a killer rub for ribs, but for this discussion, I’ll stick with store bought. Come on, I need to have some secrets. 🙂

Okay, this is all done at least the day before you are going to make the ribs. Got that? The day before. Not 8 hours, not 2 hours. You need at least 24 hours of prep time. First order of business is get to know your ribs. In the land of the mighty hog, there are 3 types of ribs, baby backs, which are from the loin area, close to the spine(Not from little tiny cute pigs people, baby refers to size here), and St Louis and spare ribs which are around the side and close to the belly. For BBQ, baby backs seem to be the hands on favorite, but it’s still a matter of personal preference. Once last thing to know about pork meat in general. Continue reading “Ribs and Collard Greens”

The Three Lions Pub

Pints As I enter The Three Lions Pub in Redmond, Wa, I’m greeted with a rousing “Hiya Gregor!” Alvia or Janie begin a pour of my customary Boddingtons (or London Porter if I’m of the mood) as I settle into my stool. Manchester United is deep in it’s match against Chelsea, and both clubs are well represented in the pub. Fred, Alvia’s dad, comes over and sits next to me, and we pick up a conversation started weeks ago. A warmth washes over me like a down comforter on a winter Northwest day…I’m home.

What is it about a local pub that makes one feel wanted, needed, loved even? I love this place. I know about most of the goings on, not because I’m nosey, but because I’m now family. “Family” in the true Pub sense of the word. A home away from home. In this home, the smells of Curry Pasty, Fish and Chips and a damn fine Steak and Kidney Pie waft in from the side. They engulf a body like a hug from one’s Grandma. Idle chit chat around the bar reminds me of family car outings, so many voices chatting at once that they become a calming low drone….then Janie drops a mug and I’m jerked out of my daydream.

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Cacti and Cukes

Beth and I went to Yakima a month or so ago, where we had a spectacular lunch at The Barrel House. Along with the fine dining, we found out about a grand Cactus Bloom Tour. Now, great food and blooming cacti in the same day seemed like a match made in heaven to our desert rat mentality, so we made plans to return for the tour. After speaking with our friend the Winged One, who also decided this was too good an opportunity to pass up, a trip to the other side was set up for Saturday.

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