By Aaron Swaney Herald Writer
SNOHOMISH — Tucked in among the antique shops and bakeries lining First Avenue in Snohomish is Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse.
It’s been more than a decade since The Herald has reviewed the Snohomish watering hole, so I grabbed my wife and made my way across the river to check out how far Fred’s has come.
And it had been about a decade since we had enjoyed a pint at Fred’s and little has changed in that time — not that that’s a bad thing. It’s still the same pub feel inside with dimmed lighting, a large wrap-around bar and a number of wooden tables lining the outside. There’s a number of beer and Scotch accoutrements on the walls to really nail home the point that asking for a glass of water is ill-advised.
We walked in and waited less than a minute for a small two-seat table close to the bar. It was a Monday night and the place was packed. There was a large party at the big table near the door and of the 12 seats at the bar only one or two were empty. But it didn’t have a packed vibe.
The small table was a bit too small so we moved to the bar when we noticed another couple leave. This gave us a great view of what Fred’s does best: beer and Scotch. Fred’s has 32 beers on tap ($4.60 for a pint) and does some fun things with those beers, including Cask Beer Nights and something they call “Summer of Love,” in which they tap a winter beer in the middle of the dog days of summer. On tap the other night was Georgetown’s Oharov Russian Imperial Stout, so I went with that.
My wife, who stays away from gluten, had a couple of choices of ciders on tap, but she decided to try one of the 200 single malt Scotches offered. Fred’s has a large bound book to guide diners through all of the choices, breaking down their Scotch collection by region and describing each by their aroma and taste. She got the 14-year Oban, which was smooth and malty.
It was time to turn to the food. We waffled between the Mick Jagger Fries ($7.95) (sweet potato fries tossed with butter and brown sugar) and the Garlic Fries ($7.95) for an appetizer. Our server guided us toward the garlic fries to go with the beer because the Mick Jaggers are a little too sweet to go with beer and Scotch and are more of a dessert option. The fries were tossed with fresh garlic, chopped parsley and parmesan cheese and were perfect with the cold beer.
To continue my winter in summer theme, I got the Porter Ale Meatloaf ($14.95) for my entree. It was was served with a baked potato and green beans and was excellent. Everything was seasoned well and the baked potato was cooked nicely. On a side note, the meatloaf was great the next day.
On a recommendation, my wife ordered the Lobster Bisque ($11.95). It was creamy and rich and paired well with my second beer, the Luna dIPA from Northwest Peaks Brewery in Seattle, and her second drink, Blackthorn Cider.
The entrees include burger options and other sandwich choices, along with six different pizzas, including the Rivertown Pizza with pepperoni, sausage and mushrooms. A number of people around us were enjoying pizza, which was on a thin crust and looked delicious. Other entrees include Black Porter Gumbo ($14.95), Mac &Cheese ($14.95) and Halibut Tacos ($18.95). Fred’s also has a lunch menu with salads, sandwiches and paninis and a dessert menu, but good luck with that after all the beer and meatloaf.
One thing Fred’s does really well is educate its servers, who thus pass that information along to customers. Our server helped us immensely in choosing among the Scotch and beer options, and also told us about some interesting upcoming events, including a Scotch tasting. It can be overwhelming to stare down the barrel of 32 beers and 200 Scotches, so it’s good to have help.
Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse
1114 First Street, Snohomish; 360-568-5820; www.fredsrivertownalehouse.com/
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday.
Speciality: Pub fare and the brews and spirits to go with it.
Alcohol: 200 Scotch selections, 32 beers on tap, wines mostly from Washington and California.