On an overcast and rainy day we drove to downtown Olympia. We parked a block away from the main street with a nice view of the state capitol. Even though I had checked the website for hours and menu, the spot we had picked for lunch was locked up tight. Peg and I walked to the end of the very short block and looked up and down Capitol Way.
We hadn't visited Olympia is sometime. The Harlequin Theatre had been a Mecca for musicals and interesting theatrical productions a number of years ago. The theater has two-hundred twelve seats that wrap around a semi-thrust stage like a big hug. No seat is more than 35 feet from the stage. We had friends in various production casts there. Over time we migrated to Seattle for entertainment and then back to our hometown of Tacoma and Pierce County. In December, we received an invitation for two to see Noises Off, one of the funniest farces in the last thirty years. I think we had seen it at Tacoma Little Theatre, Tacoma Actors Guild, and on film. We thought we would give Harlequin Productions a try. - Harlequin Productions
We were warmly welcomed to Asahi Sushi & Teriyaki (06 Legion Way SE, Olympia, WA 98501 - 360-705-8000) and shown to a table next to a window facing Sylvester Park. There were real yellow tulips on our table and the menu is sandwiched between two board binders. We placed our order for an appetizer and a sushi roll. And then sat back and enjoyed a small bowl of delicious miso soup.
Our appetizer plate was a beautiful glow of golden tempura vegetables, gyoza, and fanned shrimp. My little pockets of crab and cream cheese: Crab Rangoon, sometimes called crab puffs, crab Rangoon puffs, and cheese won tons were crunchy and perfect. The shrimp were excellent as were the veggies. Peg loved her gyoza.
Our favorite sushi is eel ("Unagi"). Our Unagi sushi roll mostly disappeared before I remembered to photograph it. Although not as much eel as we prefer, the sushi went down well. It was a perfect lunch for us. If we had not been going to the theater afterward, a Japanese or Chinese beer to share would have been a very nice addition.
In-between bites we watched people in the park walking with their children and dogs or just visiting with people. Edmund Sylvester donated the land to the city of Olympia as the town square for perpetual public use. Sylvester Park has served the people of Olympia ever since Mr. Sylvester’s original plat of the city. I always liked the bandstand in the middle of the park as a central point of entertainment and enlightenment as well as a gathering place for political and cultural interests. Five sidewalks lead to the central point where the gazebo/bandstand sits.
The only major problem in our trip was the Pay Parking Lot. We were at the other end of the block from the theater for parking. I had never seen a parking lot where you have to call in by phone to pay for parking. Standing in the rain, trying to figure out the system with people in front of me and people behind me was a problem. The computer on the other end wouldn't accept my "1" to verify the slot number. Next time we will just park a little further away and be done with it.
The outrageous farce "Noises Off" at the Harlequin was just like old home week and attending a performance ten years ago. Friendly people, great location, and well trained actors. On Saturday afternoon we saw an audience of about 140, made up of families with a great mixture of ages. Act One was a set up, Act Two was a teaser, and Act Three was almost non-stop hilarity and buffoonery. We and the audience enjoyed every minute.
After the play we drove four blocks east to Orca Books. Orca Books At a time when many book shops are closing, Orca stands out like a beacon. When we journey from Tacoma to Ocean Shores for a few days vacation we stop at Orca on the way. They have a great selection of books from old science fiction to intriguing works of non-fiction and novels by local authors. The chairs are comfortable. The shop whispers "comfortable."A gray cat wanders between the racks, and helpful bookies are there to answer questions and sell you your selections.
We had a wonderful afternoon and early evening date day in Olympia. We recommend more of these for us, and you.