Where: 3222 56th St. NW, Gig Harbor, 253.858.5555
Hours: Open daily for lunch at 11 a.m., dinner served at 4:30 p.m. and breakfast Sunday at 8 a.m.
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest inspired American dishes of steak, seafood, burgers, meat-topped salads, sandwiches, appetizers and weekend breakfast.
Scene: Casual dining vibe, servers on quick feet provide for every desire. Stuffed game and fish, antlers and hunting gear dominate wall space. Huge fireplace is the focal point. Family-friendly, though not child-focused.
Drinks: Full bar, coffee, tea, juice, some soda.
ANNOUNCER: Opening in 2003 across the street from the Inn at Gig Harbor, Tanglewood Grill boasts a meat-focused menu covering everything from barbeque ribs and chicken, prime rib, flank steak and charbroiled burgers to tri tip, pastrami, halibut, cod and alder smoked salmon. The dining room is decorated in a kitschy "hunting lodge" motif, with a log cabin aesthetic, complete with historical Gig Harbor photos, stuffed mounted animals and trophy fish. Volcano food writers Jason De Paul and Jennifer Johnson have dined separately and together at Tanglewood Grill recently. Here is their take.
JENNIFER: Service and attitude are positive aspects of this Gig Harbor restaurant. It's nice to encounter helpful people that are also efficient. From the hostess to servers to a manager doing table visits, all staff members encountered were pleasant. Sadly, a cheesy mix of corn, black beans, chicken and finely chopped red bell pepper in Southwest spring roll appetizer fell flat. I expected a light fresh taste and got chewy corn kernels, mushy black beans and dry chicken bits.
JASON: The creamy avocado dipping sauce provided the "fresh and light" you sought, but it couldn't mask the weird "old-grease" flavor of the spring roll wrapper. Soups at Tanglewood are made in-house. Chicken noodle features evenly balanced sodium, herbs, tender chunks of vegetables and chicken and noodles that aren't cooked to oblivion - a welcome surprise. The Saigon Sammie was my favorite dish. Made in the style of a bahn mi Thai baguette sandwich, pickled red onion, carrot, cucumber and creamy garlic chili pepper mayonnaise complement sliced barbeque pork tenderloin. The Saigon is worth repeat visits.
JENNIFER: On a first visit in December, the Coyote Burger was rather plain. Previously dominated by a bun that overwhelmed the smaller, hand-formed burger patty, the Coyote has seen improvement. These days the circumference of the burger patty and the much lighter, grilled bun match. A generous slathering of delicious roasted garlic, thyme, black pepper and horseradish is used and melted smoked mozzarella makes for a better burger. I still think lettuce, tomato and onion are needed for textural contrast. Tanglewood's large-cut, house-made onion rings coated in a light seasoned batter may be the most perfect ones I have ever eaten.
JASON: I'm not a barbeque expert, that's for sure, but I think meat should fall off the bone or come close. A knife should be an option not a requirement. The Tanglewood's St. Louis style ribs looked awesome, but at first bite I knew the large steak knife wasn't a suggestion. Meat clung to the bone like a baby monkey to its mother. I had to saw at it to get the meat to come off. A disappointing second try on the ribs a few weeks later provided the same result: chewy meat stuck to the bone. The baked cowboy beans were forgettable. Al dente green beans were excellent.
JENNIFER: Baked to order in a mini skillet, moist, slightly sweet Johnny cake cornbread is highly recommended as an appetizer to share. Tender, nicely smoked, roasted quarter chicken wasn't especially juicy, but a little extra barbeque sauce on the side took care of that. I have to agree on the beans and ribs - the dish was far tougher than expected and lackluster. My recommendation: skip the beans and have house-made potato chips with "the works" of blended sour cream, chives and shredded cheddar. Speaking of winners, the salmon burger was my favorite. The combination of whiskey barbeque aioli sauce on alder smoked salmon was scrumptious. Crispy onion straws, lettuce and tomato gave a nice texture contrast to soft salmon, bun and avocado. Standing almost five-inches tall, this is not a small meal. Sweet potato fries were crisp outside and creamy inside - perfect.