Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

Posts made in: August, 2014 (32) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 32

August 1, 2014 at 12:15pm

Mac and Cheese Madness: Bar Bistro

Bar Bistro serves its rich and creamy Bistro Mac and Cheese in small and large portions. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Like wine, you can tell much from mac and cheese by smell, color and presentation, and though you may balk at using connoisseur techniques for such an Americana-addled food, it helps. With that in mind, take a drive over to Bar Bistro in Midland between Tacoma and Puyallup. Within the confines of the sleek bastion of delicious food and craft cocktails, I was served a beautiful, aromatic, tasty creamy mac and cheese in a fancy wide bowl. I stepped outside to check if I was in downtown Tacoma or Seattle. Nope, farmlands still surrounded the joint.

"Chef Jason Blessum takes fusilli pasta, roasted garlic puree, heavy cream and a balanced blend of smoked cheddar, aged white cheddar, pepper jack, Parmesan, Asiago and Romano cheeses, tops it with bacon bread crumbs, shaved Parmesan, then garnishes it with grape tomatoes and basil oil," says Bar Bistro owner Eric Poulin.

The Bistro Mac and Cheese ($12/$18) is a creamy delight. The al dente pasta is added to the cream, garlic puree and cheese mixture off heat until melted through. I enjoyed the dish as is, skipping the chorizo, jerk chicken or crabmeat additions. It doesn't need the extra flavors.

I'm also happy to report Bar Bistro has a Craft Beer Club. Text CRAFTBEER to 72727 to join. You'll receive a free craft beer after purchasing five. Bar Bistro has 20-plus beers, including local brews. Harmon Brewery will be in-house toward the end of this month for a four-course IPA dinner paring with a bonus summer blonde during the reception. Craft Beer Club members will receive the latest details on reservations and early bird specials on beer dinners and events.

BAR BISTRO, noon to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, 1718 99th St. E., Tacoma, 253.537.3655

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

SEE ALSO

Flair to Midland: Bar Bistro is worth the drive

August 3, 2014 at 9:33am

Olympia Brew Fest Recap: Try these IPAs on #IPADay Aug. 7

Olympia Brewfest was the perfect time to drink an IPA. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Thursday, Aug. 7, as you surely know, is a pretty big holiday: National IPA Day (or #IPADay, if you're joining the cause on Twitter).

No, it's not ridiculous. And, of course, National IPA Day isn't the only drink "holiday." Someone, somewhere has declared a day of recognition for every drink imaginable; there's National Irish Coffee Day, National Mulled Wine Day, National Tequila Day, National Margarita Day, National Rum Punch Day, International Beer Day, which was Aug. 1 (What makes that last one international? No idea.). ... Imaginary or not, these holidays have become a wonderful marketing opportunity for restaurants and brands and a crutch for the media, including the Weekly Volcano. We include a glorious drink and food holiday every week in the Buzz-O-Meter in our print version. Who am I to criticize International Gruit Beer Day if I can get a free Gruit out of it? And anyone can get behind National Margarita Day as an excuse to order an extra round.

OK, in my heart, I think these days are crap, but they're still fun every now and then. I couldn't care less about National Rhubarb Pie Day. But, when it's National IPA Day, or any beer day, I'm in.

Founded by social media beer aficionados "The Beer Wench" Ashley Routson and "Certified Cicerone" Ryan Ross, in 2011 as a way to link breweries, bloggers and beer drinkers, National IPA Day celebrates this particular style because the India Pale Ale is one of civilization's saner inspirations for a holiday: it evolved from a means of preservation during beers' arduous travels from England to India; nobody died or was tortured; nobody has to fast; nobody has to commune with the dead or celebrate war. All you have to do is be glad this good beer made it to America and enjoy the hell out of it - which I did at the 2014 Olympia Brew Fest.

More than half of the breweries at the third annual Olympia Brew Fest poured their India Pale Ales. In fact, it's the most entered beer style in many other major craft beer competitions. Every brewery worth its salt has an IPA in its arsenal. OK, they tend to get a bad wrap for being overly hoppy. Whatever. We are blessed with access to about 20-percent of the world's hop supply in Eastern Washington, with varietals unlike any others grown abroad. And, many new hop varietals have been discovered and developed to provide a range of subtle to bold spicing notes. But the reality is, lots of people love them. Because they're delicious. And, I am one of those people.

If you need a couple recommendations, I'm more than happy to divulge some findings from the Olympia Brew Fest. Here's a look at some wonderful IPAs from the Olympia beer festival for you to hunt down for Thursday's oh so hoppy day.

Colin Harvin handed me a 7 Seas Brewing Life Jacket Session IPA at the Olympia Brew Fest, which was a first. It's not my first Life Jacket. I enjoyed the highly drinkable, thirst quenching IPA loaded with Amarillo and Nugget hops and juicy hop aromas of tangerine and grapefruit at its release party in June. It WAS the first time Harvin handed me a 7 Seas beer. The former Wingman Brewers beer slinger recently crossed the Narrows Bridge to work for the Gig Harbor brewing company. 7 Seas Brewing, Life Jacket Session IPA, 4.4 percent ABV, 65 IBU

Nathan Reilly says construction on his Three Magnets Brewing Co. is going slow. The new downtown Olympia brewery won't open as quick as he'd like. He and his wife, Sara, owners of Darby's Café in Olympia, decided to release a few Three Magnets beers this coming week regardless. "Expect them at a few Olympia beer destinations such as the Eastside Club Tavern and, of course, Darby's," says Nathan. One of the beers to be released was available at the Olympia Brew Fest. Their Session IPA carries sticky candy and lush tropical fruit notes abound from the plentiful additions of El Dorado and Australian Galaxy hops in the whirlpool and dry hop, with a light malt backbone, featuring traditional English malts to create a clean biscuit flavor. It was refreshing under the hot sun. Three Magnets Brewing Co., Session IPA, 5.4 percent ABV, 50 IBU

Claire Tenenbaum of Double Mountain Brewery from Hood River, Ore., was pulling the handle on the newly released Clusterf#ck Single-Hop IPA. As I have previously mentioned, this wonderful IPA is a porch sipper with malt, citrus zest, grapefruit juice and and slight herbal hop flavors on the finish. Double Mountain Brewery, Cluster Single-Hop IPA, 7.3 percent ABV, 85 IBU

Corvallis, Ore., brewery Mazama Brewing made the trip to Olympia for last year's Olympia Brew Fest. Enjoyable, they requested another invitation, with an IPA in their heads. Their Mosaic Eruption IPA made its debut at this year's beer festival, finished with Mosaic, Amarillo, a little touch of Citra and Centennial hops. I picked up flavors and aromas of fruit, mostly melon and pineapple. Mazama Brewing, Mosaic Eruption IPA, 6.0 percent ABV, 60 IBU

Olympia's Fish Brewing Company was, of course, pouring at the Port Plaza. Its Hodgson's Bitter End IPA hits the nose with pine, then fills the mouth with grapefruit-like citrus and a lightly caramel malt sweetness. Seek it out on National IPA Day. Fish Brewing Company, Hodgson's Bitter End IPA, 6.5 percent ABV, 70 IBU

Narrows Brewing Co. head brewer Joe Walts and I discussed IPAs several weeks ago. His Giant Pacific Octopus IPA - with Magnum, Columbus and Willamette hops and a malt profile of Great Western Northwest Pale, Best Malz Acidulated, Dextrose - is Narrows' best seller. And for good reason. Lots of grapefruit and orange peel. Narrows Brewing Co., IPA, 7.2 percent ABV

Iron Horse Brewery made the trip from Ellensburg to pour its very drinkable IPA, with the hop flavor and aroma on the finish. Iron Horse Brewery, Iron Horse IPA, 6 percent ABV

Seattle's Schooner Exact Brewing makes an excellent IPA. The 3 Grid IPA, its flagship, is for everyone. It leans on the Sessionable side, with earthy favors and ample carbonation keeps the hop bite. So good. Schooner Exact Brewing Co., 3 Grid IPA, 6.7 percent ABV, 62 IBU

Backwoods Brewing Co., the family-owned craft beer company from Carson, Wash., poured its Log Yard IPA. If you're looking for an IPA with fresh hops flavor and aroma with mild caramel malt this is the one.

There you go. All great IPAs to celebrate National IPA Day.

Here's a parting photo from the 2014 Olympia Brew Fest.

LINK: More photos from 2014 Olympia Beer Fest

August 4, 2014 at 9:44am

Served Blog Banner Girl: Q&A with Hana Klimek of Cooper Point Public House

Cooper Point Public House server Hana Klimek is a hoot. 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 Hana Klimek.

Server Banner Girl, Aug. 4-10, 2014

Hana Klimek

Hana Klimek has been with Cooper Point Public House since it opened in January 2014. Actually, after she answered a craigslist ad, she helped owners Sam and Melissa Rasmussen and Sam's mother, Catherine Kathrein, convert El Nopal Mexican restaurant on Olympia's Westside into the Northwest-style public house in December 2013. Klimek is still at Cooper Point, serving craft beers, pours from small-scale distilleries and a tasty "Dish Pit Burger" with a big smile.

Why do you serve?

"I serve because I love people! That being said, Cooper Point Public House is owned and operated by some of the best people I know. Going to work never feels like a chore; it's a team effort and I always feel like I'm surrounded by family." 

Who is your favorite server in the South Sound?

"Natalya Gimson at Vic's Pizzeria. I have tremendous respect for all the ladies and gents preparing as well as serving food in a pizzeria. I know it can't be easy and I appreciate hard work when I see it." 

What are you most proud to serve?

"Anything and everything on our menu. Among my personal favorites are our Caesar with calamari and our delicious crab cakes."

What's your current drink of choice?

"Kentucky Mule. It's the drink that introduced me to bourbon. Enough said." 

Favorite movie?

"Jaws. Saw the film around the age of 4, and my fear grew into fascination quickly. ... Thanks Dad!" 

What don't you serve?

"Funky fake food. I am proud to be a part of a restaurant that serves quality food and drinks. I love our menu because we really have something for everyone and the food is as genuine as the people who prepare it."

What's on your radar at Cooper Point Public House?

"My radar? I'm just the daygirl. My advice, get to the Point!"

LINK: Meet other South Sound servers

Filed under: Served Banner Models, Olympia,

August 4, 2014 at 11:29am

Tacoma's Brew Five Three beer festival returns with larger glass pints and awesome blues

There it is! The Brew Five Three glass pint! Photo courtesy of Broadway Center

For any craft beer enthusiast living in the South Sound, 2014 has been a pretty stellar year. From the inaugural Tacoma Beer Week, opening of Top Rung Brewing in Lacey, expansion of The Red Hot and the soon-to-open Three Magnets, Odd Otter and Pacific Brewing, to good times at Gig Harbor Beer Festival, huge 7 Seas Brewing anniversary party and last weekend's Olympia Brew Fest - plus too many new beer releases to mention - the stream of craft beer-related events seems to be endless. This weekend continues the trend with Broadway Center's second annual Brew Five Three: Tacoma's Beer & Blues Festival next to the Pantages Theater in downtown Tacoma, Saturday, Aug. 9, from 1-9 p.m.

Building upon the success of their first year, the Broadway Center and Brew Five Three organizer Aaron Stevens seek to continue building upon the quality of the first mixture of beer and blues.

"It was so fun last year listening to the brewers talk to each drinker about beer," says Stevens, who is the program manager at Broadway Center. "Our volunteers did an amazing job making it as easy as possible for the brewers to do just that - concentrate on their beers and the beer drinkers. The brewers are proud of their product. The less distractions, the better."

Stevens also gives huge props to Chris Miller of The Red Hot, Tacoma's craft beer and hog dog hangout. Miller, a beer aficionado and veteran of beer festivals, served as an advisor for last year's Brew Five Three, offering advice and tips from behind the scenes, which Stevens calls invaluable. Stevens is thrilled to have Miller back this year.

While the debut of Brew Five Three was a success, Stevens and his team paid close attention to feedback. Improvements sourced from survey results from last year's festivalgoers and brewers include allowing re-entry and larger, pint-sized souvenir GLASSES. Yes, glass. Well-behaved dogs on leash and drinkers off-leash will still be permitted.

"Last year exceeded our expectations," says Stevens. "But, we listened. We received some feedback on our small drinking glasses. Our thought, after talking with brewers, was a small glass allowing for more tasting. This year, we have pint glasses from the very start, instead of pulling them out at the end like we did last year."

It's logical thinking, but maybe people thought it was too much work to refill.

"The Broadway Center strives to serve the community," adds Stevens. "(Executive Director) David Fischer has never taken the approach of being Tacoma's tastemaker, bringing in what he thinks Tacoma needs. He listens to what the community has to say. It's been fun to take the same approach with this beer festival."

The pint glasses have 4-, 8- and 12-ounce marks, or drinkers may fill it all the way to the top. While it seems crazy to limit your tastings with full pours, Stevens witnessed folks who wanted to sip a full pint while watching a band's whole set or kick back at the end of the night with a pint and compare notes with friends.

For the second year, Brew Five Three returns to Broadway, in front of Broadway Center's venues and down the street. The block-party layout will remain the same, with breweries lining the street and the music stage above in the park. But, the date obviously changed. Ignoring this year, June can be a rainy month.

"It rained before and after last year's June Brew Five Three," explains Stevens. "The sky opened up just for the beer drinkers. Still, people felt hunkered down. August makes more sense."

Tents will be erected if needed, but the weather calls for clear skies and temperatures in the mid-80s.

Washington state breweries and cideries are the focus, with more than 30 confirmed to line Broadway, including South Sound breweries 7 Seas Brewing, Dick's Brewing Company, Fish Brewing Company, Harmon Brewing Co., M.T. Head Brewing Co., Narrows Brewing, Puyallup River Brewing, Tacoma Brewing Co. and Wingman Brewers. Also included are Odd Otter Brewing Company and Pacific Brewing & Malting Co., even though the two downtown Tacoma breweries haven't opened their doors.

"I'm really excited Pacific Brewing and Odd Otter are part of Brew Five Three," says Stevens. "It's not really their debut because they have done a great job promoting themselves, but I'm thrilled they'll be on Broadway. They have a lot of energy, focus and have been fun to work with."

The other participating state breweries are an impressive lot; click here to see the list.

"We got great feedback from the brewers last year," says Stevens. "And almost every one of them is coming back. Those brewers who couldn't make it due to vacations or what not have partnered with other breweries to pour at the event. Those certain brewers felt it's important to be at this festival. I love when community happens. The brewing community is a friendly one. And, that's why this is such a fun event to host. (Laughing) I get to have meetings with all the best breweries."

Stevens, lead singer of Tacoma indie rock band Goldfinch, as well as a contributor to many other musician's projects, will be the first to tell you he's not a blues aficionado. He did campaign to have Stephanie Anne Johnson, a longtime Tacoma singer-songwriter and top contender on NBC's The Voice, to headline the festival. No one argued.

Wisely, Stevens solicited the help of Rev. Dave Brown, a beer drinker and producer of Immanuel Presbyterian Church's popular Blues Vespers shows, to book the blues musicians. Brown will bring in the West Coast Women's Blues Revue - a Northwest blues super group of Lady A, Patti Allen, and Teri Anne Wilson - the Mark Riley Trio and swampabilly band Junkyard Jane. Brown went with high-energy blues bands. Good call.

Food vendors include Athena's Food Truck, Auto Pompa Pizzeria, Fish Basket's Mobile Fish Bar, Ice Cream Social, Murph's BBQ, Quack Dogs LLC and Lumpia World.

"Lumpia has its highest-grossing day of the year at the festival," says Stevens.

B Sharp Coffee House down the street will set up a station onsite, serving complimentary coffee.

Although it's easy for craft beer enthusiasts to get excited about Brew Five Three for its beer and blues alone, the event serves as an important fundraiser for The Broadway Center's Education Program, one of the largest arts education programs in Washington state, serving more than 51,000 students, teachers and parents each year.

Advance tickets to Brew Five Three are on sale now.Tickets are $30, $25 for military personnel for 10 tastings. Designated drivers may purchase a ticket for $10 to enjoy live music, a variety of food vendors and a festive outdoor atmosphere. To purchase tickets call the Broadway Center Box Office at 253.591.5894, toll-free 1.800.291.7593, visit in person at 901 Broadway in Tacoma's Theater District or online at www.BroadwayCenter.org, or visit The Red Hotor The Beer Essentials. Additional tokens may be purchased at $1.50 per token, or 10 for $10. An ATM will be onsite.

With so many craft beer events dotting the calendar in the South Sound, Stevens and his team feel that Brew Five Three further builds upon the events throughout the year, adding a different flavor and context that enthusiasts will enjoy.

"I believe it complements everything else that's going on in the South Sound as far as beer festivals and beer events," he said. "It completes the puzzle with quality Washington-centric beers and great blues music."

BREW FIVE THREE: TACOMA'S BEER & BLUES FESTIVAL, 1-9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 9, block party on Broadway between Ninth and 11th streets, Tacoma, $10-$30, broadwaycenter.org

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma,

August 4, 2014 at 12:49pm

Eat This Now: Seared duck breast

Chef Slater's seared duck breast at Maxwell's Restaurant + Lounge / photo courtesy of @chefhudsonslater

I often visit Maxwell's Restaurant + Lounge to partake in their fabulous happy hour. It's high-class ambiance and fine dining fare for a very reasonable price. Other times, I visit Maxwell's to indulge in date night, craft cocktails and divine dishes crafted by Chef Hudson Slater. Recently I highlighted Chef Slater's @chefhudsonslater Instagram as the most visually appealing of all foodie themed pics in Tacoma in our 2014 Best of Tacoma issue, but these dishes don't just look good, they taste good too!

Upon my most recently visit I nibbled on the seared duck breast ($28). Two words: le sigh. Creamy risotto sets the foundation whispering of fennel flavor throughout with fresh and braised figs scattered on top. The sweet figs, but not too sweet, created a tasty union with the fennel. Perfectly seared, lightly seasoned, tender duck breast takes this dish over the top.

The seared duck breast is fulfilling and light at once - and a glorious sight to boot. I insist you eat this NOW.

As if the seared duck breast isn't reason enough to visit, Maxwell's Restaurant server extraordinaire Kent Bolden was voted top server in our Best of issue; so service standards are sure to shine as well.

MAXWELL'S RESTAURANT + LOUNGE, 4-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, 5 p.m. to midnight Saturday, 454 Saint Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.683.4115

August 5, 2014 at 1:06pm

Matador Restaurant to raise funds for victims of Eastern Washington wildfires

Eat and drink at the Matador Aug. 7 and help the victims of the eastern Washington wildfires.

If you like it hot, and we all know that you do, Matador in Tacoma delivers food to the table primed and ready to sear the insides of your mouth. They put the wails in jalapeño at this downtown corner hot spot where long thick curtains at the entrance muffle your screams to the outside, and warms your heart around the fire pit table, the centerpiece of this sexy beast.

This summer, there are many folks who don't like it hot, specifically the victims of the Eastern Washington wildfires. The square miles of damage and the money spent to fight to fires are astronomical.

Today, Matador Restaurant and Tequila Bar announced that its Washington state locations - including downtown Tacoma - as well as Kickin' Boot Whiskey Kitchen in Ballard, are partnering with local organization Band of Brothers Northwest to help raise funds to assist victims of the Eastern Washington wildfires. Thursday, August 7 from 11 a.m. to close, the restaurants will be donating 100 percent of all profits to Band of Brothers NW, and the organization will be accepting tax-deductible donations of any kind at a booth in each location.

Let's read excerpts from Matador's press release. ...

At nearly 400 square miles, the Carlton complex fire is the largest in Washington state history and has burned more than 300 homes. Already, the cost of fighting the fire has surpassed $23 million, but that figure fails to include the cost of the victim's homes that were damaged and lost property.

Read more...

Filed under: Benefits, Tacoma,

August 6, 2014 at 11:37am

Beer Here: Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp Across America, Midnight Sun and Green Flash tonight

Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp Across America sets up camp tonight and Friday in Tacoma.

If you're the type of observant beer drinker who follows beer blogs, you may have noticed Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp Across America, one of the most ambitious craft beer celebrations yet. A multi-pronged offensive into the gullet of beer fans nationwide, the Beer Camp Across America is part roving beer festival and part collaboration beer series, that has hit Washington state, and in fact, Tacoma's ParkWay Tavern tonight, beginning at 5 p.m., at Tacoma's Pint Defiance beer store and taproom Friday, Aug. 8, at 5 p.m.

The idea is an expanded spin on the pioneering Chico, Calif., brewery's annual Beer Camp program, which since 2008 has invited distributors, brewery owners and a few lucky consumers to Northern California for a hands-on brewing weekend with Sierra Nevada's pilot system. Barry Watson, co-owner of Pint Defiance, has been one of the lucky ones to visit the Beer Camp, and will share his Camp brewed beer, Barry's "No Sleep 'Till Chico" Imperial Coffee Vanilla Porter, Friday.

The top brews were made on a larger scale and released each spring in a highly anticipated Beer Camp variety pack, which Pint Defiance and other Washington state specialty beer stores have in stock.

The ParkWay's tap list tonight:

  • Allagash-Myron's Walk Belgian-style Pale Ale - 5.3%ABV
  • Asheville Brewers Alliance-Tater Ridge Scottish Ale - 7.0%ABV
  • Ballast Point-Electric Ray IPA - 8.5%ABV
  • Bell's-Maillard's Odyssey Imperial Dark Ale - 8.5%ABV
  • Cigar City-Yonder Bock Tropical Maibock - 7.7%ABV
  • Firestone Walker-Torpedo Pilsner - 5.2%ABV
  • 3 Floyds-Chico King Pale Ale - 6.5%ABV
  • New Glarus-There And Back English-style Bitter - 5.6%ABV
  • Ninkasi-Double Latte Coffee Milk Stout - 7.6%ABV
  • Oskar Blues-Canfusion Rye Bock - 7.2%ABV
  • Russian River-Yvan The Great Belgian-style Blonde - 6.3%ABV
  • Victory-ALT Route Altbier - 6.6%ABV
  • Narwhal Imperial Stout - 10.2%ABV
  • Hoptimum Imperial IPA - 10.4%ABV
  • 08' Big Foot Barley Wine - 9.6%ABV

MORE BEER HERE TONIGHT

The Red Hot hosts Midnight Sun Brewing Co. out of Anchorage beginning at 5 p.m. Besides swag, expect Bar Fly, Son of a Berserker, Snowshoe White, Sockeye Red IPA, Monk's Mistress and 9Teen Saison.

Speaking of Pint Defiance, the beer store and taproom hosts Green Flash Brewing Co. from 5-7 p.m. On tap will be two special releases from Green Flash's Hop Odyssey Series - White IPA and Citra Session - as well as its rarely seen East Village Pilsner. Pint Defiance's wacky raffle is on, too.

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma,

August 6, 2014 at 3:48pm

Photos: The Valley Pub by the Tacoma Dome re-opened today

The Valley Pub in Tacoma has re-opened as of Wednesday, Aug. 6. Photo credit: Kate Swarner

Once upon a time two scruffs - John Xitco and Jeff Paradise of Tacoma's X Group restaurants - had a few beers with two beards - Justin and Robbie Peterson of The Eleven Eleven on Hilltop Tacoma. The result was the new and improved Valley Pub, which re-opened at 3 p.m. today at 1206 Puyallup Ave., close to the Tacoma Dome.

I never dreamed of such a merger, but it makes complete sense. The creative minds behind X Group's Asado steakhouse, Masa modern Mexican fare, Choripan at the Museum of Glass and the historic Engine House No. 9 restaurant matched with the Peterson brothers, who in addition to being craftsmen, grew up watching their dad, Bob Hill, with Gayl Bertagni and Jack McQuade, take The Swiss Restaurant and Pub from a mess to success. The X Group and Petersons bleed Tacoma. Their styles aren't that different. Yet, they understand different markets. Combined ... wow.

Weekly Volcano scribe Jackie Fender chatted with Xitco two months ago regarding the new venture, in which he discussed taxidermy on the walls, 12 draft handles, something called the "Pillars of Pennies," booze on the shelves and pub grub similar to the Eleven Eleven.

Today, it's all there, and more, including outdoor seating with an outdoor dart board. Good to see Bandito Betty behind the bar training folks. There's a limited menu for now.

Here are a few photos we snapped during The Valley Pub's first half-hour of business.

>>> Jeff Paradise, Justin Peterson and Robbie Peterson are proud owners of The Valley in Tacoma. Photo credit: Kate Swarner

>>> Here are the first customers at the new Valley Pub. Photo credit: Kate Swarner

>>> Eric Willard, sales and distribution head honcho with Two Beers Brewery and Seattle Cider Company shares a beer with Garrett Davis, sales manager with PBR, at The Valley Pub in Tacoma. Photo credit: Kate Swarner

August 7, 2014 at 11:13am

First peek: new Primo Grill at Sixth and Oakes in Tacoma

Primo Grill re-opens Friday, Aug. 8 at its new location at Sixth and North Oakes Street in Tacoma. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

It was the yawn of all yawns. Long. Followed by a lean against his new, long beautiful bar. After 20 seconds of rest, Chef Charlie McManus went back to work. No time to rest. The tiring remodel is complete. It was a big night - the opening night of the new Primo Grill. He and business partner/wife Jacqueline Plattner hosted Tacoma Community College boosters, staff and students. The restaurateurs have supported the TCC art program since 1999, helping to raise money for scholarships. Behind the new bar hangs a six-panel mural created by TCC art instructor Marit Berg and her students. It's a gorgeous depiction of the Puyallup River from Mount Rainier to the city of Tacoma and the surrounding farmlands, celebrating Primo's farm-to-table approach to dining. Tonight, TCC is back in the house, another private event before the restaurant opens to the public Friday, Aug. 8.

The new Primo Grill would make a beautiful picture too. Tall ceiling with exposed beams, cantina windows that open, communal dining environment with brown accents and reclaimed Douglas fir flooring, and a display kitchen. The seating remains close to the previous location, around 80 seats. The mural pops behind the bar - a bar five times longer than the bar at Primo's previous location five blocks west on Sixth Avenue. Primo has just added a new element to its operation - a bar scene, with a new craft cocktail menu, smaller but higher quality wine list and a delicious Chardonnay grappa I sipped last night. I forgot to write down the name.

The Mediterranean fare menu has changed, too. It grew a bit longer, although it still demands South Sound ingredients and Northwest flavors. Several dishes made the move, including the pizzas, the apple wood smoked pork chop, its famous Bolognese spaghetti and the creamy Parmesan polenta. A grilled rack of lamb chops, grilled chicken under a brick, mint and pea tortellini, housemade fettucine with smoke salmon and nine starters are on the menu, just to name a few.

It wasn't my night to indulge in McManus' new dishes. It was all about TCC and the relationship it has formed with Primo Grill. McManus and Plattner were too tired and too busy to kick me out. I will say bartender Alexandria's Black Manhattan with 12 year Elijah Craig Bourbon, Amaro Nonino, Carpano Antica and a bourbon cherry was a delicious take on the classic drink.

PRIMO GRILL, opens Friday, Aug. 8, dinner only, 2701 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.383.7000

Filed under: Open and Shut Cases, Tacoma,

August 8, 2014 at 11:52am

Mac and Cheese Madness: The RAM Restaurant and Brewery

The RAM Restaurant and Brewery serves a sturdy mac and cheese. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Artisan ice cream, craft beer, food trucks, artistic cocktails: South Sound dining is either emerging from or headed into a culinary construction zone. But many South Sound restaurants refuse to reject the notion of comfort food. And sitting at the very top of the comfort food pyramid is mac and cheese.

Today marks the 15th mac and cheese dish I have tried since launching this Friday series in May, as a precursor to the Weekly Volcano's Tournament of Mac and Cheese in Spring 2015. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the RAM Restaurant & Brewery's version. ...

Ever been to a barbecue in someone's backyard and someone brought macaroni and cheese in a floppy foil pan? So wrong. If the RAM brought its mac and cheese in said pan, the pan would surely collapse with the contents possibly injuring a small child. Curly, swirly meaty Cavatappi macaroni is the star of The RAM's mac and cheese - a huge, heavy pile of it with a Parmesan and cheddar cheese sauce in a supporting role. Each Cavatappi noodle could feed a small family.

The RAM calls its mac and cheese "creamy, cheesy, ooey-gooey" on its menu. It's not. The spoon riding shotgun is laughable. The noodles topple off the dish-to-mouth device. Sure, the cheese coats the noodles, including some Panko breadcrumbs, but after the noodles disappear, not much remains in the bowl.

No, it's a meat and potato kind of mac and cheese. Each mouth full is filling and satisfying. Did you get sacked twice, hit four times and run around like a maniac last night? This mac and cheese can heal. Are you fighting a tropical storm in a swimsuit while juggling a Mai Tai? This is your reward.

Additional flavor can by added to The RAM's housemade recipe ($8.99) in the form of blackened chicken (2.99), roasted jalapenos (99 cents), hickory smoked bacon ($1.99), blackened prawns ($4.99), sautéed vegetables ($1.49) and sautéed mushrooms ($1.99).

Do some heavy lifting today.

RAM RESTAURANT & BREWERY, locations in Federal Way, Lacey, Lakewood, South Hill Puyallup, Tacoma, theram.com

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

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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Recent Comments

Ted Smith said:

Thank you for the list of restaurants to try out. I will have to try their Mac and Cheese....

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tastymakan said:

I like your post on Bakery restaurants I like ...

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Angela Whitten said:

Any Spring beers? www.myharmonyphotography.com

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Web Developers Delhi said:

Amazing blog and very interesting stuff you got here! I definitely learned a lot from reading...

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