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Hood Canal: Union Bay Cafe

Unfortunately, while I was visiting Hood Canal one of the region’s most famous foods was off limits.  Oysters had been affected with some sort of bacteria and were not allowed to be harvested.  This was very sad indeed!  Although the ban was only on oysters, I believe, I decided to stay away from mussels and shrimp, too. 
So one evening found me searching for a burger.  Across the highway from the Union Country Store I had noticed the Union Bay Cafe.  It’s been my experience in the past that many of the local establishments on the Olympic Peninsula have really excellent food so I thought I’d give them a try. 
Being one of the only establishments in the area I think Union Bay Cafe tries to cover all bases.  There was a dining area with booths and small tables; a long bar; and off to the side a room with pool table, large screen TV and stage for weekly features such as open mike and karaoke. 
When I arrived the dining room was completely empty but there were several people at the bar.  I chose a seat near the end where I could watch my M’s on the big screen.  The bar top was a bit grimy having been recently vacated.  The bartender cleared the used glasses away but didn’t bother to wipe down the surface.   Hmmm. 
I ordered a Stuffed Burger, which was their regular burger stuffed with bacon and blue cheese.  According to the menu, the meat was from a local, natural beef producer.  I chose fries from the listed options and placed my order.  Service was on the leisurely side so I had quite a bit of time to watch the game and listen to the conversations of the locals around me.  I think a couple of them may have already been there a few hours based on the distortion of their words! 
Prior to my order arriving a gentleman sat next to me and we exchanged small talk.  I asked if he lived nearby and he said no that he didn’t often make it to the area, implying it was not near his home.  I asked where he lived and he told me Belfair which is only 16 miles away. Between that statement, the conversations I was overhearing and the relaxed serving style I was reminded that small town living is much different than city living.  I live within Seattle city limits and it’s 10 miles just for me to get downtown and probably 16 miles to M or R’s house from mine!  And I don’t mean that "country living" is bad in any way – in fact in many ways those things are attractive to me.  It’s just being only a few miles from Seattle (a one-hour ferry ride and about 45 miles after that) I was surprised to find such a noticeable difference. 
Once my order arrived I checked out my burger and fries.  The burger was pretty good – nicely cooked and not as rich as it might have been as the bacon and cheese were not overwhelming but just complemented the beef.  The fries on the other hand were sad.  Very sad.  No potato taste at all.  They were pretty crispy but that’s about all I can say for them.  
I’m not sure I would go back, but there’s a chance I might.  I’m kind of a sucker for local places.  Next time I might just stick with a beer and something from the Happy Hour menu, however.      

Union Bay Cafe & Dog Salmon Bar
11801 E State Route 106
Union, WA 98592
  1. 24-Aug-2006 3:35 pm

    Union is a beautiful area around HC but it\’s definitely got that small town bit.  Did you stay at Alderwood?  Cheers,

  2. Sylvie permalink
    25-Aug-2006 8:18 am

    Just dropped by to say hello. 

  3. Unknown permalink
    08-Feb-2009 6:10 pm

    I\’ve been eating clam chowder for nearly 70 years and making my own from fresh dug clams for about 45 years. Today, at the Union Bay Cafe, we were served the best I\’ve ever eaten. Nicely spiced with chunks of firm potatoes and carrots. Thick and creamy. Accompanied by warm garlic bread covered with parmesan cheese and, I think, basil. The place was spotlessly clean and our server friendly and informative. (Although he wouldn\’t give us the recipe) We shall return! — Pilot Point Jon, 2/8/09–

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