Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

November 28, 2014 at 12:27pm

Mac and Cheese Madness: The Swiss Restaurant and Pub

The Swiss adds spicy Andouille sausage to its mac and cheese. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

I pondered skipping this week's Mac and Cheese Madness Friday posting. South Sounders are either one big mashed couch potato after feasting on tryptophan-releasing flesh (and 10 tons of other comfort foods) nibbling on leftovers throughout the day, or, if out and about, will choose lighter fare to counterbalance yesterday's glorious gluttony.

Then, I remembered my mission, to report on a South Sound mac and cheese dish every Friday up to our Tournament of Mac and Cheese in March 2015. I need to spread the cheesy word, ease into tournament research and, obviously, build hype. I can't let the South Sound down. It's my life's mission ... and derision from my wife.

The Swiss Restaurant and Pub knows the two guiding principles behind awesome mac and cheese: a combination of cheeses, never just one, and a high proportion of cheese to everything else. The type of pasta isn't as important, so long as it's short and dried; fresh pasta will collapse under a cheese sauce. Tubes and spirals help the sauce cling to the noodles.

The downtown Tacoma restaurant blends cheddar and jack cheeses with extremely short elbow macaroni. The dish is almost soupy but the high cheese ratio forces five twists of a fork to break free. The addition of spicy Andouille sausage makes it badass. Graininess doesn't make an appearance.

Note: The Swiss has this mac and cheese on its special board. Its fate will be determined by its patrons' reviews.

THE SWISS RESTAURANT AND PUB, 11 a.m. to midnight Monday-Wednesday, 11-2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to midnight Sunday, 1904 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma, 253.572.2821

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

LINK: The answer to why this mac and cheese column exists

November 26, 2014 at 2:22pm

Top Rung Brewing will reach Pyrolysis on Black Friday

Top Rung Brewing Co.'s Pyrolysis Imperial Stout / courtesy photo

Every single one-day-at-a-time day is a struggle, particularly around the holidays - specifically during Black Friday. I know there are seven habits to becoming a highly effective person, 50 ways to leave your lover and 12 steps to sobriety. But after years and years as a recovering believer in Santa Claus, I have to ask, "When will it end?"

I'm happy to report Christmas has come early ... and on Black Friday, no less. Mike Besser, the "Ambassador of Beer" at Top Rung Brewing, tells me the Lacey brewery will release Pyrolysis, their Imperial Stout, on Black Friday. It's Top Rung's first winter release since opening this past April.

You might want to cut your shopping early, as the beer is a limited release, available in 10-ounce pours without a growler-fill option.

Top Rung will open several hours early on Black Friday, swinging open the door at noon.

Let's look at the specs. ...


The back(draft) story on Top Rung Brewing Co.

Filed under: Holidays, New Beer Column, Lacey,

November 26, 2014 at 1:24pm

Three Magnets Brewing introduces casual surf and turf

Three Magnets Brewing's Jamburger with savory jam and bacon / photo courtesy of Facebook

At the Olympia's new brewpub Three Magnets Brewing Co., the "soft launch has turned rock-hard very quickly," as a recent post on the pub's Facebook page put it.

The pub opened Nov. 7, with the all-ages restaurant section opening Nov. 17, but it's already getting plenty of attention from fans of local beer, local food and soccer - which is on the bar's TV whenever there's a game on.

The simple menu is still evolving, but it will continue to evolve - and it will continue to be simple.

"It's always going to be a pretty small menu," says Sara Reilly, who owns the brewery and pub - and popular breakfast spot Darby's - with husband, Nate Reilly.

"That's what we've been able to learn from Darby's," she says. "It's famous because it has this huge menu, and it pleases everyone, but it's not a very good way to run a business.

"The idea is to try to do a couple of things and do them well. It's almost like a food-truck mentality."

>>> Three Magnets Brewing's salt-cod Reuben / photo courtesy of Facebook

The focus is on a casual version of surf and turf - including hand-ground burgers on housemade spent-grain buns, fish and chips and a salt-cod Reuben. All of the sauces are made in house.

On a visit last week, we had the Lamburger ($14), jazzed up with lemon-mint marmalade, and the Jamburger ($13), with savory jam that was a bit like a more exciting and chunkier version of ketchup. The bacon was gone when we arrived at 9 p.m., as were the buns, but toasted bread worked just fine.

The burgers come with a cup of the soup of the day (also sold out) or a mug of fries that were light, crisp, hot and just salty enough. And - be still my heart - the fries are gluten free, although the staff points out that in a brewery there is a risk of contamination that may be a problem for those with celiac disease.

My companion didn't want fries, and the kitchen was willing to substitute a simple side salad with malt vinaigrette.

There are a couple of vegetarian options, including Beercheese Mac ($7), with more on the way, and a small kids menu.

But don't go in on the hunt for any specific dish.

"We're keeping very few items from day to day," Reilly says. "We're trying to come up with new menus daily.

"We don't want to make a commitment on anything that people can expect."

Actually, that's not quite true. Three Magnets doesn't want to marry any specific menu item, but patrons can expect food that's fresh, local and of high quality, Reilly promises.

Some of the produce is coming from Wobbly Cart Farm, and fish will change based on what's available, she says, with a focus on fresh, never-frozen varieties.

Housemade gravlax is on the way, as are seasonal game burgers. "We'll have a venison burger, an elk burger and things like that, but we're always going to grind it in house," she says.

Also coming soon will be lunch, weekend brunch and more beverage options beyond beer. Again, the focus will be close to local.

Currently, the pub has the simplest of wine options - a house white and a house red ($5 for a snifter) - but more Eastern Washington wines are on the way, including some from Salida Winery in Rainier.

There'll be cocktails, too, probably in the next month or two. Just don't expect a full bar.

"We're not going to have Bacardi and Coke, because we don't have Bacardi or Coke," Reilly says, "but we might have a nice artisanal rum from the San Juan Islands and our housemade malt cola."

THREE MAGNETS BREWING CO., 4ish-10ish p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 4ish-11ish p.m. Friday and Saturday, 600 Franklin St. SE, Suite 102, Olympia, 360.972.2481


Science with Three Magnets Brewing Co.'s head brewer Pat Jansen

November 25, 2014 at 2:57pm

Beer Here: ParkWay The Destroyer, Engine House No. 24, lot of Lagunitas ...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Every Thanksgiving, they pack their bags and head back to the South Sound for turkey dinner at grandma's house. Here are the joints where you can meet the ones who love craft beer. ...


For some, the night before Thanksgiving can be a greater cause for celebration than the holiday itself - an opportunity to return to the old stomping grounds, imbibe oneself with threatening amounts of beer and play catch-up with some forlorn acquaintances. The Puyallup River Alehouse provides the venue. Widmer Brothers provides the beer ... and some raffle prizes ... from 6-9 p.m.

In the name of Thanksgiving, let us give thanks for the following: Alesmith Speedway Stout, Epic Big Bad Baptist, 2013 Deschutes Abyss, Freemont Darkstar, Great Divide Choc Oak Aged Yeti, Mad Viking Night Raid, 2013 Avery Mephistopheles, Lost Abbey Angel's Share Grand Cru, Maritime Jolly Roger 2012 & 2013, Great Divide Hibernation, Almanac Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine, Boneyard Orange is the New Jack, 2013 Widmer Ginger Brrbon, 2013 He'Brew Funky Jewbelation, Deschutes Jubel Ale on Nitro, Hop Valley Mistress of the Dark, New Belgium Le Terroir, The Bruery Seven Swans a Swimming, Dogfish Head 60, 90, & 120 min, Fremont The Brother, Boneyard Notorious, Laurelwood Megafauna, Boneyard Bone-a-fide and Finn River Cranberry Rosehip Cider. Those are the beers the ParkWay Tavern will pour at its annual "Honey, The ParkWay Ruined Thanksgiving Once Again!" launching at 5 p.m. This is one of the ParkWay's most popular events of the year. It has ruined many a Thanksgiving.

Those up for a road trip should venture to the city of Pacific for Northwest Brewing Company's Pre-Thanksgiving Day Party from noon to 10 p.m. Drink a pint of Foggy Goggles Stout and you could win a growler full of the brew every hour. Expect chili.


Skip the Black Friday craziness and dine with 7 Seas Brewing at Brix 25. This four-course meal will pair the culinary prowess of The Gig Harbor fine-dining restaurant with damn tasty brews from 7 Seas for $50 a head. This 6 p.m. dinner will sell out; reservations are required at 253.858.6626.


"Do not open till Christmas" should never apply to beer. Each day from Dec. 1 through Dec. 24, Engine House No. 9 will be releasing a different specialty bottle or tap beer; follow along and feel the Christmas spirit in your veins.


Hard cider is the kindest of alcoholic beverages. Beer must be cumbersomely boiled, wine is expensive and poorly distilled spirits can blow up and fry your eyes. They all involve so much waiting. Cider is a relative cakewalk. Find out if this is true when Number 6 Cider out of Seattle launches its brand at The Red Hot Tuesday night.


99 Bottles will unleash a massive beet tasting with Skyler Cesarone of Lagunitas Brewing Company of Petaluma, California. Cesarone will pour nearly every beer from Lagunitas, from 5-7 p.m. The tasting fee is $2.

Epic Brewing Company, a Salt Lake City brewery founded in 2008, will pay a visit to the Puyallup River Alehouse from 6-9 p.m. No word is the Epic Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout, aka the Beast, will be making an appearance. Know this the pitch-black beer rings in at 11.8 percent ABV.

November 25, 2014 at 12:39pm

Free Thanksgiving: Now that's a home-cooked meal

I'm not gonna lie, I was kind of a Big Man on Campus back in the day. Mostly I'm admitting I was overweight, though I did have my successes. Still, the achievements I look back on with the greatest pride were all shared: lifelong friendships, plays I directed or costarred in, and my participation in a campus philanthropic society. Each year, our "Sigma Society" along with dozens of other charitably-minded Oklahomans came together to provide our community much-needed Thanksgiving feasts free of charge. Thousands of less-fortunate citizens would queue up for holiday turkey, mashed potatoes, desserts-all the comforting, crave-able classics they couldn't afford to prepare for their own families. I grew up poor myself, so I know what it's like to have nothing in the fridge or depend on government assistance. Believe me, it's not the glorious free ride it's made out to be. Not to put too fine a point on it, being poor sucks. That's why I place enormous value in highlighting grassroots efforts to brighten the lives of struggling South Sounders in these darkest of late-autumn days.

For 45 years now, the late Barb O'Neill and her loved ones have been providing holiday meals along with seasonal clothing and other food and gift donations. What started as an invitation to neighbors has impacted the lives of thousands of Olympians. This is a great group of people, and you can be one of "Barb's Family and Friends" as well. A member of the organization was recently stopped on the street by a person who benefited from O'Neill's generosity years ago, during years when that person was homeless. Now she and her grown daughter are back on their feet, and they want to help pass the favor on to somebody else. It's called paying it forward, people, doing unto others as the best among us have done for us.

As it does every other day of the year, Tacoma's Rescue Mission serves warm, healthy meals to people who are homeless or otherwise underprivileged. Last Thanksgiving Day alone, the mission served over 1100 meals. It's currently accepting donations of money and food items for Thursday's feast; check out to see how you can lend a hand...or a ham. Gifts of turkeys and hams are always appreciated, as are volunteer hours, especially between now and Christmas. Thankfulness is a beautiful thing, as this holiday serves to remind us, but giving back when things get better might be an even more sacred obligation.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. Let's make sure this is a happy occasion for everyone around us as well.

BARB'S 45TH ANNUAL FREE THANKSGIVING DINNER, noon - 5 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 26, United Churches of Olympia, 110 11th Ave. SE, Olympia, free, 360.485.9931

GOOD NEIGHBOR CAFE, 4 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 27, Rescue Mission Downtown Campus, 425 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma, free, 253.383.4493

Filed under: Holidays, Tacoma, Olympia, Community,

November 25, 2014 at 11:11am

Eat These Now: Dragon Roll and Volcano Roll

The Dragon Roll and Volcano Roll at Trapper's Sushi travels well. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

I'm going to be frank here, not Frank a dude, but to the point when I say I approach chain restaurants with some hesitation - specifically chain sushi restaurants. This, of course, does not mean I'm not pleasantly surprised on occasion, which was the case after every meal at Trapper's Sushi in Tacoma's Sixth Avenue neighborhood.

Trapper's is approachable sushi for the masses with fun monikers for locals such as the Puyallup Roll, Mt. Rainier or Bonney Lake. Trapper's excels at texture, especially in their sushi rolls. Crisp tempura crumbs accompany many of the more adventurous rolls as well as cream cheese, which is to say they are tasty - let's face it, deep fried crunchies and cheesiness is just so dang delicious.

On my most recent Trapper's visit I had both the Dragon Roll ($10) and Volcano Roll ($10.50). The Dragon - a solid decision at most sushi spots - features shrimp and cucumber topped with eel and avocado. It's one of the least "fishy" of options and has a texture that won't scare off sushi newbies. The Volcano Roll is delivered with spicy tuna, cream cheese, jalapeno and cucumber, fried in tempura, covered in avocado, then topped with a sweet chili sauce, warrior sauce and green onions. The name Volcano eludes to spiciness with sweet chili sauce and warrior sauce (spicy mayo), but it's doesn't bring a lot of warmth. The roll does have loads of texture and is a flavorful and fun combo.

Trapper's prices are fair; the quality of the product is spot on.

The intimate dining area does not lend itself well to conversation on a busy night. The tiny space leaves little room to buffer conversation.

Surprisingly (yes, Trappers is full of pleasant surprises), the rolls travel well to my humble abode.

TRAPPER'S SUSHI, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, 3118 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.891.2046

Filed under: Eat This Now, Tacoma,

November 24, 2014 at 2:51pm

Thanksgiving beer pairings

Pint Defiance assistant manager R.J. Adler suggest these four beers with your Thanksgiving meal. Photo courtesy of R.J. Adler

Cruelly sandwiched in between two much cooler holidays, the fourth Thursday in November has always been a bit of a letdown for me. Maybe I just had to draw one too many handprint turkeys and write too many lists of things to be thankful for when I was a kid. I promised myself that I wouldn't write anything this cheesy, but right now I've got an early deadline bearing down on me like a Mack truck.

To most folks, beer makes a Thanksgiving appearance during the afternoon football games rather than the big meal. Here in the South Sound, we can do better. We can bring craft beer to the dinner table, and we can show our relatives how wonderfully it can pair with food.

But pairing beer on Thanksgiving can be tricky. For starters, a turkey has both light and dark meat. There's also usually a sweet cranberry sauce and a savory stuffing along with a veritable smorgasbord of sides, rendering the heaviness of a porter too much, and snuffing out any flavor from light session ale. To address the conundrum, I dropped by Pint Defiance Specialty Beers and Taproom for assistant manager R.J. Adler's suggestions for the best holiday pours. Sundays at Pint Defiance are traditionally a four-beer tester flight tagged with a theme. This past Sunday, Adler skipped the sampler and poured full pints of beers he suggests for a Thanksgiving meal.

With a world full of comparable options, Adler chose four beers he thought people should know, based on four courses of a Thanksgiving meal: cheese, starter dishes, the main meal and dessert.

First Course: Unitroué Ephemera Cranberry (Chambly, Quebuec, Canada, 5.5 percent alcohol by volume)

"Brewed in the tradition of a Belgian White ale, this top-fermented beer provides a perfect warm-up for your palate to prepare it for a Thanksgiving feast," says Alder. "It pours a slightly cloudy blonde color releasing a flowery bouquet of red berries. The flavor is slightly sweet with a minor tart acidity that wakes up the taste buds but leaves little linger. The Unitroupe pairs nicely with soft cheeses."

Second Course: Lost Abbey Red Barn Ale (San Marcos, California, 6.7 percent ABV)

"This Farmhouse Ale traces its roots to the small rustic breweries of Southern Belgium," says Alder. "The word ‘Saison' comes to us from the French language and it means ‘season.' Lightly spiced with organic ginger, orange peels, black pepper and grains of paradise, the flavors complement holiday starters such as savory salads, barbecue beef or pork, or spicy dishes."

Main Course: DuPont Avec Les Bons Voeux (Trourpes, Belgium, 9.5 percent ABV)

Nov. 13 marked the official day (and night) of the Coast to Coast Toast. Vanberg & DeWulf, who founded the Coast to Coast Toast three years ago, was the first company to specialize in importing Belgian beers to the U.S. The principals of Vanberg & DeWulf (Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield) have been tireless champions for Belgian beer and now "honorary Belgians" all from independent family-run producers. Those who participated in the Coast to Coast Toast, which included Adler raising and tipping a DuPont Avec Les Bons Voeux - know this Vanberg & Dewulf imported brew to be worthy.

"Since 1970, the (Brasserie Dupont) brewery has been brewing a special beer to give as a New Year's present to their best clients - the name of this beer translates as, ‘With the best wishes of the brewery DuPont'," says Adler. "This strong pale ale pours a coppery blonde with a frothy white head introducing aromas of fresh baked bread, delicate lemon and a mild herbal happiness. It pairs excellently with turkey, salty dishes and rich food, with a subtle warming sensation from the alcohol and a clean, crisp finish that prepares the palate for the next bite."

Dessert Course: Kasteel Winter (Ingelmunster Begium, 11 percent ABV)

"Kasteel Winter is a unique departure from the stars winter ales known for their potpourri of cinnamon and clove," says Adler. "This Belgian Strong Dark pours a chestnut brown with a nose of rich, warm coffee, toffee and dried fruits. The mouthfeel is rich and sweet like that of melted candy thanks to the addition of Belgian chocolate and coffee. This brew could be a dessert on its own but pairs great with rich, earthy-dry desserts, dark chocolate and mint."

By far, the Kasteel Winter was the favorite beer at Pint Defiance Sunday, with the Dupont coming in second, followed by the Unibroue and finally the Lost Abbey ale. Those who agreed with Adler and purchased the four beers for family and friends Thursday might just drink dessert first. The Kasteel Winter is that tasty.

Adler suggests letting the last two beers warm to room temperature to bring out four flavors. As I interview him, he cupped the glasses housing my Dupont and Kasteel, refusing to let me taste them before reaching the optimum temperature.

And what does Adler suggest you drink during the football games before the big meal?

"I suggest a session beer that's not going to ruin your palate," he says. "Maybe a Northwest-style pale ale, such as a Bale Breaker Field 41 Pale Ale or a Goodlife Sweet As Pacific Ale."

PINT DEFIANCE, 2049 Mildred St. W., Tacoma, 253.302.4240

Filed under: New Beer Column, Holidays, Tacoma,

November 24, 2014 at 10:26am

Punkin chunkin' - impeccable pumpkin pies in the South Sound

Corina Bakery in Tacoma is open for pie pick-ups until 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 26. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Your Thanksgiving feast is only days away. Perhaps you have family en route, maybe that weird uncle who watches Fox News all day and roots for the Chiefs. These people are expecting a feast of epic proportions, and your oven is already a 24-hour operation. Darn right you'll be making a turducken, as the Pilgrims and American Mormon Jesus intended. That yellow three-by-five card with Granny Mayberry's recipe for bacon-wrapped green bean casserole is already sitting on the counter, and dough for homemade yeast rolls is rising in the fridge. Oh, wait. Did you - ? No. My God, NO. This can't be happening! Quickly, take a census of pies in the making. Apple, cherry ... where is it? How the hell did you forget the pumpkin pie, you infidel? Have you taken leave of your senses? No PUMPKIN PIE? Well, you can kiss that appearance in Aunt Magnolia's will a fond farewell! You just doomed your family to a lifetime of holiday leprosy! This omission will not stand! Without the platform of pumpkin pie, where will the Cool Whip go, we ask you? WHERE WILL THE COOL WHIP GO?

Stop your crying, you sad, sad excuse for a human being. We here at the Weekly Tectonic Eruption offer hope. For a few bucks, compared to the turducken anyway, we can get you that pie. Well, not exactly "we." The last time we made a pumpkin pie it was a faux martini with crème de cacao and vanilla-flavored vodka. Actually, we drank so much of that we woke up 20 hours later with pumpkin pie spice crusted around our nostrils. It was bad, and we wish you hadn't posted those photos on Instagram. No, we're talking actual pie, made by someone who knows his or her way around an autumn squash.

Let's start with a pie maker so talented, so singularly gifted, that USA Today recognized him as one of the 20 finest in the entire nation. (It must be rough working at USA Today. Their annual "best of" issue is probably a free-for-all.)  Yes, I'm talking about Dr. Terry McLaughlin of Dr. Terry's Pies in Puyallup, and don't think the good doctor got his postgraduate degree at Phone-It-In Pie Medical School. McLaughlin offers you and your loved ones the say-it-with-me-and-drool Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Pie, a confection that'd make Ina Garten weep extra virgin olive oil. All his pies - yes, even the Grandma's Apple, Strawberry Cream with two pounds of mutant strawberries, and Browned Butter Pecan - are handcrafted from scratch. Buy 12 and you get the baker's dozenth free, which should just about see us through the end of November. Terry's doctorate is in theology, so God wants you to buy one of those delectable pies. Have you sinned this year? Care to greet your Maker with moral turpitude still on your conscience? No? Then you'd better get on that.

Corina Bakery offers made-from-scratch Spiced Pumpkin pies, but why stop there? Who doesn't love Pumpkin Cheesecake? Or Bourbon Pecan pie? Or just bourbon? Our point is we like bourbon. Oh, and you can even get most of Corina's gorgeous pies vegan or gluten-free, so in your autoimmune-disorder face, celiac disease.

For last-minute orders, check out 8 Arms Community Bakery, which is hosting an open house from noon to 7 p.m. Thanksgiving Eve. Standard pumpkin, linzer-hazelnut pumpkin, pumpkin-brownie swirl, and sticky-toffee pecan-pumpkin pies will all be flying out the door for pennies on the dollar. While you're there, grab some pumpkin spice bread and a brochure for Weight Watchers, and we'll see you there in December.

DR. TERRY'S PIES, Sterino Farms, 6116 52nd St. E, Puyallup, $39, 253.845.0719

CORINA BAKERY, 602 Fawcett Ave., Tacoma, $24-$38, 253.627.5070

8 ARMS COMMUNITY BAKERY, 413 Decatur St. NW, Olympia, $12, 360.754.6894

Filed under: Holidays, Tacoma, Puyallup, Olympia,

November 24, 2014 at 8:30am

Served Blog Banner Girl: Q&A with bartender Teresa Fisher of Maxwell's Restaurant + Lounge

Maxwell's bartender Teresa Fisher knows how to make a delicious martini. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Every week we swap out the Served banner art above, introducing you to the people who serve food and drinks in the South Sound. This week, meet Teresa Fisher.

Server Banner Girl, Nov. 24-Nov. 30, 2014

Teresa Fisher

Teresa Fisher is a very good reason to visit Maxwell's Restaurant + Lounge, nestled between downtown Tacoma and the Stadium District. This experienced mixologist is a fireball of energy. She's known for being outgoing, her beautiful smile and kick-ass drinks, of course. You might have known her at the Outback Steakhouse. You might have known her at the former Sea Grill. She has found a home at Maxwell's, matching drinks with the talent in Maxwell's kitchen.

Why do you serve?

"I serve because it allows me to have a flexible schedule giving me the opportunity to spend precious time with my children. I also like the fast paced, think on your feet, multitasking atmosphere. I love to make people happy."

Who is your favorite server in the South Sound?

"My favorite servers would have to be Jacey Weston and Ryan O'Donnell at the Matador."

What's your current drink of choice?

"My current drink of choice is a glass of Prosecco or a simple Chopin martini with a twist and an olive."

Favorite movie?


What don't you serve?

"We don't serve ranch or breakfast."

What's on your radar at Maxwell's?

A few things are on my radar. First, of all the dishes on Chef Hudson Slater's awesome menu, you must try the lamb shank. Our Wine Wednesdays offer half off any bottle $75 or less. It's a great night to come in and try our fabulous wine list. Also, we have live music every Friday and Saturday featuring Kim Archer, Kareem Kandi and Nyoka. They rock it!

LINK: Meet other South Sound servers

Filed under: Served Banner Models, Tacoma,

November 21, 2014 at 11:04am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Half Pint Pizza Pub

Half Pint Pizza Pub in Tacoma's Sixth Avenue neighborhood pays tribute to the famous "Pasteurized Recipe Cheese Product" in its mac and cheese. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Macaroni and cheese seems simple enough - the ingredients are listed in the name of the dish. However, as I have discovered over the last eight months, the varieties are endless.

Depending upon the pasta, cheese and toppings, it can have a gourmet, beer, Southern, Mexican or Texan spin. The dish goes with everything from bacon to lobster and truffles. Even the crust can vary - croutons or breadcrumbs can add exciting flavors, as well as a textural crunch, to the cheesy goodness.

At its core, two schools of macaroni-and-cheese philosophy exist: the artisanal, gorgonzola-gruyere-gouda kind and the one devoted to the blue box. This week's mac and cheese dish tips toward the box.

The Half Pint Pizza Pub, formerly Medi's, is a small, red sauce Italian pasta and pizza joint in Tacoma's Sixth Avenue neighborhood. Check that; it's a red sauce Italian pasta, pizza and craft beer joint. You can't miss the chalkboard proudly listing craft brews, including several local breweries. Half Pint's mac and cheese version fills a small, cast-iron skillet with small elbow noodles bathing in a bubbling, creamy Velveeta (a nearly 100-year-old Frankencheeese) and heavy whip sauce, freckled with tiny nubs of croutons. Two perfectly toasted garlic bread slices and a tiny cup of tangy marinara sauce were welcomed sidekicks. The small size makes a nice lunch.

Gooey and good, and no doubt artery clogging, may I suggest you can wash down this cheesy morsel with a pine-y and strongly bitter Breakside IPA, which, like all beers, is only $3 on Thursdays.

HALF PINT PIZZA PUB, 2710 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.2531

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

LINK: The answer to why this mac and cheese column exists

About this blog

Served, a blog by the Weekly Volcano, is the region’s feedbag of fresh chow daily, local restaurant news, New Beer Column, bar and restaurant openings and closings, breaking culinary news and breaking culinary ground - all brought to the table with a dollop of Internet frivolity on top.

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