The age-old watering hole along Main Street in Duvall is under new ownership and has undergone a massive renovation, from the decor and ambiance to the menu. I grabbed a friend — the two of us are no strangers to a pint or two — and decided to check it out on a recent afternoon.
The Duvall Tavern has been around since 1934, but the only tell-tale signs of age are the old wooden tabletops, etched up with years of diners’ doodlings, repurposed as wall decorations. The new owners, Scott and Cielita Lennon, installed more lighting, brought in some retro, comfortable chairs and tables, and outfitted the tavern with a new bar, pool table, fireplace and six flat-screen TVs.
They also added a 500-square-foot outdoor patio with picnic tables and seating for close to 40. Inside there are six spots for customers to belly-up to the bar and a number of tables that ring the pool table. Many of the tables seat the usual four, but there are a few that seat two and some circular tables that can fit six.
Since it was pouring rain (in July!!!), we took a seat at one of the lean, tall pub tables under a flat-screen TV in the corner. The Mariners were playing a day game and it was a perfect spot to catch the action.
It wasn’t too busy, so Jansen, our server, jogged over to us right away and was very helpful. He explained how the tavern used to be down the hill along the river when it first opened 80 years ago before being hauled up the bank to its existing spot along Main Street. He went on to describe the recent renovation and his only experience with the old Duvall Tavern.
“I went there once and I took like four steps in, turned around and left. It was so dark it was like a cave,” Jansen said of the old Duvall Tavern.
We were thirsty so we inquired about the beers on tap. The Duvall Tavern has 15 taps, two rotating, that are dominated by a decent number of craft beers. The usuals suspects are there, Manny’s, Mac & Jack, etc., but they also had a nice selection of some good off-the-radar beers, including the Bale Breaker’s Field 41 Pale Ale and an oatmeal stout from a local brewery, Duvall Springs. We tried the pale ale and oatmeal stout and threw on an order of truffle fries as an appetizer.
As I said at the beginning of this review, this isn’t your grandfather’s Duvall Tavern. Besides Truffle Fries — which were good; crispy with just the right amount of seasoning, appetizers include Sweet Potato Fries with Maple Glaze, Tavern Nachos and something called a Hippie Plate, which has hummus, celery, peppers, cucumber, carrot and cherry tomato.
But it’s the hamburgers that really sets the Duvall Tavern apart. After reading over the menu, we both decided to get a hamburger. The sandwiches sounded good, especially “Linda’s Famous Ham and Cheese Sandwich,” which pays tribute to former Tavern owner Linda Newkirk, but the hamburger lineup is hard to pass on. (The Duvall Tavern also has fish and chips, a chicken basket and a selection of four salads, but come on, this is a tavern).
With tractors and trucks loaded with hay bales passing by the window, we joked that we’d be surprised if the burgers had more than lettuce and tomato. Boy, do they. Jansen recommended something called the Stroganoff Burger, which sounded amazing, but we were too taken with the Tavern Burger, full of jalapenos, avocado and chipotle aioli, and the Washington State Burger, which has bacon, sharp white cheddar, caramelized apple and a balsamic glaze. Both burgers were cooked to order and served tavern style on a roll. They were both delicious.
Despite bringing in fancier fare, the Lennons were careful to keep costs down. The hamburgers and sandwiches range from $9 to $12 and the appetizers are in the $5 to $9 range. There is also a weekly fresh sheet with specials like the Stroganoff Burger or The Sequioa, which is a burger topped with sliced ham, a fried egg and BBQ sauce. Happy hour is 3 to 7 p.m. daily and offers $1 off all craft beers and appetizers.
The tavern is also family friendly until 9 p.m. As we left there was a family of five, including two small children, settling into one of the circular tables.
The Duvall Tavern
15807 Main St., Duvall; 425-318-6277; www.duvalltavern.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight, Sunday-Thursday; 11-2 a.m., Friday-Saturday (family friendly until 9 p.m.)
Specialty: Pub food
Alcohol: Cocktails, draft (15 taps) and bottled beer, wine
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