George Washington Shoulda Drunk Here
Yorktown Pub a Revolutionary Winner
by Kurt E. Epps
It was really an oblique sort of tip and a bit of luck that led me to the Yorktown Pub in Yorktown, Va. The guide at a tourist trap called the Yorktown Victory Centre was actually talking to a knot of female seasoned citizens in front of us who had apparently inquired as to good local places to hit for dinner. They looked pretty well-to-do but were probably hoping for an early-bird special.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]"Nick's Pavilion is a bit pricey," the guide advised, "but the food is superb." Cuts me out, methought. "Pricey" is not for us little guys, especially those of us with a mission to feed a family of five with three young sons known for their aversion to "superb."
"There's always the Yorktown Pub, too," the guide continued. "The decor is not fancy, but they make a good crab cake sandwich." Mental note made: No fancy decor (my kind of place), good crab cake sandwich (the missus's kind of place), probably has good beer, kids can get fries.
Using another guide's directions after our demonstration of musket-firing and flax-making was over, we passed Nick's place and headed for the Yorktown Battlefield. There a brilliant George Washington, helped in great measure by the French, kicked British Lord Cornwallis's backside so bad he refused to come out for the surrender. That surrender launched the United States as a nation and changed world history forever.
Though the PubScout hardly needs an excuse to quaff, such a victory and the gathering Virginia darkness called for a celebratory pint. The Yorktown Pub came conveniently to mind.
Like Herman Melville's Ishmael, I wended my way to the water. Hard by the York River on Water Street (where Cornwallis attempted an unsuccessful escape), not 50 feet from the water's edge, sat this throwback pub. In the shadow of the Coleman Bridge, two huge-paned plate-glass windows gave a clear view of the cozy inside of the pub and the patrons therein. The warm glow from within, the wooden booths, the dark hardwood bar and the ranks of bottles behind it beckoned the war-weary traveler to "set a spell."
The room itself was immediately reminiscent of the homey bar in the movie "The Perfect Storm," and, just like in that movie, the customers had the look of regulars who know the food is good, the beer is good and the people are good. Just what a pub is supposed to be.
The food -- especially the crab cake sandwich -- was good. The people were as friendly as could be, including our waitress, Michelle Beck, whose face and figure are just waiting to be discovered by some visiting Hollywood director. A damned good waitress, too, considering that she was running the room by herself and it just kept getting busier.
It was the beer selection, however, that made the Yorktown Pub worth mentioning as a stop in any beer geek's travels. Abita Bock (!) out of Louisiana, fer chrissakes -- not a beer that most pubs serve, but considering how valuable the French were to us back in the day, a totally understandable tip of the tricorne. One could also find on tap the outstanding Weeping Radish Fest from North Carolina, and St. George (Hampton, Va.) Golden Ale with its distinctive dragon-head tap handle. Also available were Yuengling's Black and Tan and a host of others in bottles, ranging from Sam Adams to Woodchuck Cider. Of course, the standards (Bud, etc.) were also on hand, along with Amstel, Heineken and a raft of others. And every one would be served in a mason jar mug with a handle.
Affable Dean Tsamouras (owner since May 2000) seems to know what he's doing in this place that has occupied this space since the Great Depression. Good food and good beer at prices that were decidedly un-pricey offer a winning combination in any decade.
I hoisted my Abita Bock, silently thanking the French Fleet that successfully blockaded the harbor 50 feet behind me, making possible the American victory at Yorktown. I was sure George Washington would have approved, and given his well-known penchant for taverns, he would have definitely liked the Yorktown Pub, were he alive today. (He'd be really old, though.)
Had things turned out differently, the gray-wigged British aristocrat Cornwallis would probably have opted for the "superb" Nick's. But like the little town that bears its name, the Yorktown Pub is a big victory for the little guy.
Kurt Epps, aka The PubScout, lives in New Jersey. His e-mail signature reads: You've got to hand it to the Sumerians -- inventing both writing and beer!
Copyright 2003, Celebrator No material herein may be reprinted without permission of the Celebrator Distributed On the W3 For personal, non-commercial enjoyment and use only. Cheers!
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