It was a game of restaurant whack-a-mole. Three doors. Which one was the entrance to newly opened Fish Brewing Pub and Eatery?
I couldn’t tell. They were unmarked.
It took three whacks to find it.
The entrance is on the opposite side of the building from that fetching water view at Point Ruston. Look for Ice Cream Social, then head into the adjacent breezeway. Look to the left across from the meat-and-cheese vending machine (I’m not making that up). That’s the front door.
Sal Leone, president and CEO of Fish Brewing, said the brewery is working on a fix for the mystery entrance. Signs soon will direct traffic.
It’s one of a few other bugs they’re working out.
Leone said the restaurant has hosted more diners than it expected since its Dec. 15 opening. They’re hiring more staff and tweaking the menu.
Consider waiting two weeks to visit.
The company also operates a brewery and restaurant in Olympia and a tasting room in Woodinville.
As promised, the space was expansive and the water-view was on display from much of the dining room, although some of that view will be obstructed by the rising Silver Cloud Hotel next door.
The menu was pub grub with a few extra steaks and seafood — all built to pair well with beer, of course. One attraction surely will be the fresh oyster bar.
Here’s a first-bite look. It’s this paper’s policy to avoid criticism of food and service in a restaurant’s first month.
Dining room: Big, loud and also fun, so long as you’re a fan of bustling pubs. Broad windows brought beautiful glimpses of the water. Seating for about 200 at comfortable, solidly built wooded chairs with adequate table spacing in a huge dining room built for parties large or small.
A second-story outdoor area will be the most enviable seats in town when summer approaches. Outdoor seating will total 150 spread over a few sections.
Menu: Similar to the sandwich, burger and beer-friendly entrees of the Olympia location, including the prices (except for the additional steaks and seafood dishes). Is it cutting edge gastropub fare? Nope. Is it straightforward food meant to pair well with beer? Heck yes.
More than a dozen entrees range from shareable hummus ($10.50) and smoked salmon plates ($14.25) to crab cakes ($15), cheese curds ($11.25), quesadillas ($10-$13), nachos ($12.50) and chicken wings ($12.75). A half dozen side and entree salads ($5-$14), plus soups ($5-$9.25) and four kinds of macaroni and cheese ($14-$16).
Fifteen sandwiches and burgers include a classic pub burger ($14), pulled pork sandwich ($12.50), ham-and-brie ($12.25), grilled chicken ($14) and a Cubano ($14).
Heartier entrees include pub favorites bangers and mash ($14) and shepherd’s pie with lamb ($13.25). Seafood options range from cioppino ($20) to shrimp and grits ($14), fish tacos ($13.50), salmon ($24) or halibut ($30).
The menu went deep into the wonderful world of fried fish with fried cod and chips ($16), cornmeal dusted fried oysters ($17) and a combo basket ($17).
Big eaters can belly up to an 8-ounce sirloin ($19), 10-ounce New York ($28) or 12-ounce ribeye ($26), plus a pork chop ($22).
Clearly marked vegan and gluten-free options pepper the menu.
Booze: 40 taps featuring Fish Tale beers, plus the company’s affiliated labels of Leavenworth Biers ($5.75) and Spire Mountain Ciders ($6.25). Sample flights available ($8). Also served are Silver Lake Wines and the company’s newest addition, a distillery that produces aguardiente and vodka. Also an on-site is a small brewery producing Ruston IPA, only served at that location. Find coolers stacked with six-packs for sale in the restaurant’s lobby.
Oyster bar: Fresh-shucked oyster menu changes daily. Find the oysters on display at the bar, but they’re shucked-to-order in the kitchen. We slurped Kumamotos, Chelsea Gems, Little Lillies and Shigokus. Priced $3 each.
On a first visit: Start with a half-pound ground chuck pub burger with an add-on of gooey layer of cheddar (for a small fee), red onion slices, leaf lettuce and thick-sliced tomato atop a squishy bun, with skins-on fries ($14). Crunchy panko-dunked cod tasted flaky and delicious with a dill-heavy tartar ($16), shrimp and grits were light on shrimp, but big on andouille flavor and a bargain at $14.
Fish Brewing Pub and Eatery
Where: 5108 Grand Loop, Ruston
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Mondays-Wednesdays; 11 a.m.-midnight Tuesdays-Saturdays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays
Contact: 253-507-4970; fishbrewing.com