The Good, The Bad & The Scary

The Oxford Saloon, Snohomish

Full disclosure … I’ve been to The Oxford Saloon twice now, once two years ago, and once earlier this month. The gap between the first and second time, that was due to the fact that, other than the old, and reportedly haunted, atmosphere, the experience was BAD. Not just bad, horrible enough for me to write the only bad review I have ever done. Why give it a try again? That’s easy, I needed something with a spooky Halloween vibe to write about and, honestly, I felt like giving them a second try.

What went wrong the first time, and was the second time around better … read on to find out!

TAKE ONE ~ JULY 2016

 

I want to start off by saying that, as you all know, I am a strong supporter of locally owned businesses and try to keep my social media comments and reviews positive, at least 95% of the time if not more. After all, the goal is to get you to shop, eat, and play local, not discourage you from it. As we have evolved into an overall lifestyle blog and E-Magazine that focuses equally on Snohomish County residents and businesses, however, I feel the responsibility to share the good with the bad so that you have the best experience possible when you go out.

All of that aside, I have to say that The Oxford Saloon in Snohomish was a bit of a hit and a miss with me. This is a place that caught my attention because of its amazing history, and lets face it, the ghost stories. The building itself is over a hundred years old, and still looking good. It has been a grocery store, saloon, card room, and perhaps even a bordello. Scandalous!

Ghost stories and investigations abound, ranging from captured images, EVP recordings, and personal experiences of spirits including a police officer, prostitute, and more who are recorded as dying at the location. I unfortunately did not have any other worldly experiences while dining at the restaurant the first time around.

While I wasn’t scared away from returning by ghosts, the food and staff at The Oxford Saloon (at the time) most definitely made me think twice about returning. The waitress was wonderful, there were no problems there, although I did feel a bit bad for her being the only female working there. The kitchen staff, and owner and/or manager, on the other hand were much a different story.

My entire meal, which thankfully was accompanied by wine, was spent listening non-stop to all of them speak rather loudly, complaining about work, customers, and life in general, with a bit of swearing thrown in here and there. Don’t get me wrong, I am known to swear like a sailor from time to time, but this restaurant is definitely one that is entirely kid friendly, day or night despite it being “so called” family friendly.

My advice to the staff at The Oxford Saloon (even though they are probably different now), try to remember that the kitchen area is not closed off from the bar and restaurant, so EVERYONE can hear EVERYTHING, and that, just because there is only one or two tables occupied, does not mean that those people shouldn’t get the level of service received when there is a full house.

I think you all would agree that this is actually good advice for any restaurant.

As for the food, I had Oxford Bacon Cheeseburger with Double Cheese. I will say that
the burger, other than being a bit under cooked (I wasn’t asked how I wanted it prepared), and the fries were good, about what you would expect from bar/restaurant fare. That being said though, my stomach was far from agreeing with any of these statements a few hours later.

Moral of the story, bad experience, plus food that made me literally sick, equals never going to go there again. Well, I thought so at the time anyway. Lets fast forward to now!

TAKE TWO ~ OCTOBER 2018

 

Walking into The Oxford Saloon was not something I ever thought I’d do again. That’s how bad the first experience was. Trooper that I am, I gave it another try though and did my best to put that first experience aside and go into the restaurant with an open mind. It had been just over two years since our last visit, so that seemed fair.

Once again, I have to start out with the atmosphere. It is the restaurants saving grace. This time, I took the time to really appreciate just how old the building is. The seating, bar, wallpaper, and other decor transport you into the past. The best part for me though, oddly, was the smell. It smells old, like the kind of smell you get walking through a museum (I have to add, the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland as well).

Now, I know what you are thinking. When you eat at a restaurant, the only thing you want to be smell is amazing food. I have to disagree. Knowing how old the building is and its history, being able to almost smell it just did it for me.

Once again, we failed to have any other worldly experiences while there. That is not to say that we didn’t have a bit of fun with the spooky vibe of the place though. The SnoCo Kid was with me this time around after all, laughter and shenanigans were bound to ensue.

I’ve heard and read about stories regarding the ladies room being one of the more haunted spots in the restaurant. I for one, held it in. As with bears, I like the idea of knowing ghosts could be around, but I don’t want to actually see or feel one. That’s just me. That did not, however, stop be from sending The SnoCo Kid on in. Yep, I’m that kind of parent, but don’t worry, she gives as good as she gets (catch the Iron Goat Trail piece we included with the Skykomish feature last month if you don’t believe me).

How did it go? She went willingly enough, but there was most definitely a look of trepidation as she made her way into the ladies room and shut the door. And, I kid you not, I’m fairly certain she has never gone to the bathroom and washed her hands so fast in her entire life. I pointed this out when she returned to the table, and she swears I was full of it, but I know what I saw.

Things got equally interesting towards the end of our meal. Our attention was once again drawn to the restrooms because I thought I heard one of the tracked doors moving on its own. Just a little, but enough to hear that noise that old wood makes. Fans were on in the restaurant, but I hadn’t heard that noise thus far, so I let my imagination get the best of me a bit.

Before you start questioning whether you read right about us not having any experiences earlier, you did, and we didn’t. The door mystery was solved shortly after it arose when I leaned over the side of the old wood booth to get my credit card to pay. What did I hear when I did? You guessed it, the same sound that I had thought came from the bathroom door behind us. We had a good laugh about this, feel free to have one as well. I’m human, I hear what I want sometimes, and part of me wanted a good scare.

Beyond the building and history, The Oxford Saloon was a bit livelier this time around. We weren’t dining alone this time around, and the bar had a few folks engaging in their own fun with the staff. These things all combined make it pretty awesome gathering place with a local, everyone knows your name, kind of feel. So, by all means, if you are looking for somewhere to have a good drink and good company, give it a try.

This is where the good things stop though. The food was, once again, bad. I do have to upgrade my opinion of the fries to a bit better than average. I had the same burger, and thankfully was asked how I wanted it this time, but it was still just okay. We also opted to have the macaroni with truffle oil, and it is there that things went very wrong.

While oil in it was a given, it was literally pooled on the top of the dish and dripped for several seconds off each forkful. It was not pretty, and while somewhat good, literally screamed, “don’t eat me, remember getting sick last time.” I didn’t heed the warning, and whether it was the macaroni or the burger again, I had quite the stomach ache within a few hours again.

Bottom line, go for the atmosphere and the bar, but try the food at your own risk!

Let us know what you think! Share your comments and experiences below and don’t forget to spread the love on social media at the bottom of the page.

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