Stepping into Jules Maes Saloon, 5919 Airport Way South in Georgetown, is like stepping back in time. I know that’s a hell of a cliche, but it really is. From the massive old wooden bar back with solid wood columns supporting the top, to the old Rainier beer signs. From the cast iron bar stools to the air itself, it’s a throwback to the old saloons that catered to local working stiffs. No frickin’ fancy ferns in a place like this baby, no sir.
The actual history of the place is every bit as interesting as the decor. The building itself was born in 1898, and operated as everything from a grocery store, saloon, restaurant and meeting hall to an OTB joint. Then one Jules Maes, who had started a saloon up the street around 1912, moved his saloon into the building in 1936, and it’s been slingin’ beer ever since. Oh sure, it’s hipper now. Green mohawks and piercings abound, but at it’s core the place still has some stink on it, and I love that. My only regret is that it was too dark to take pictures, but I’ll go back and snap a few soon. You really have to see the place.
We ended up stopping for a bite while we were at Artopia 2010 with our friends William and Jo. We walked in, unsure if we would find a place to sit. William spotted a lone empty booth, however, and the game was on. Beth and I started with a couple of beers. Being an IPA lovin’ fool, Beth got the Fremont IPA. Chock full of bitter, hoppy goodness. I, on the other hand, went with the Georgetown Pilsner. Light and refreshing but with body, just what a good pilsner should be. Both were excellent, and not too horribly overpriced given the day and location. Being model citizens, William and Jo went the cola route.
Beth and I both zeroed in on the lamb burger. Only difference was I went with tater tots, she took the fries. First, the burger. Oh my, the burger. A large lamb patty, perfectly seasoned and cooked to medium rare perfection, sitting on a pretzel type bun. It was topped with gorgonzola crumbles, crisp lettuce and red onion and a slight shmear of what tasted of yogurt, almost like a tzatziki without the cucumbers. Whatever it was it was pure pleasure. Best lamb burger we’ve had in quite a while. The tots were the bomb. Wow. Crispy out, soft inside, with a slight hint of a spice almost like curry. Tasted wonderful. The fries were fair fries and you guys know how much we love fair fries. Thin and greasy, they rocked.
William and Jo opted for the portobello burgers, both with the fries. I personally did not taste the burger, but both of them said it was wonderful. I’ll take their word for it, being the confirmed meat eater that I am. Jo’s only complaint was that after trying my tater tots she wished she had gone that route. I’m with her, I could have eaten another plate of just the tots. Wonderful.
Finally, let me just add this. The service was impeccable. Our server showed up as soon as we sat down, drinks arrived in short order, our food soon after that. She was patient and willing to deal with menu changes. After we finished, our plates were removed at once, yet we never felt rushed or pushed to leave. This is extra special given the fact that Artopia 2010 was in full swing and the crowds were huge to say the least. Well done Jules Maes staff, well done indeed.
I give it an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 bar stools.