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Doted on

Jennifer Johnson and Jason De Paul share a meal at JW Restaurant in Gig Harbor

MACARONI AND WINE: Two of the things JW in Gig Harbor does right. Photography by J.M. Simpson

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JW Restaurant

Where: 4107 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor,  253.858.3529,
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Monday
Cuisine: New American food: Sautéed clams, duck confit sliders, wild boar, uncomplicated salads. Steak, seafood, foul and even gluten-free pasta. House-made soups, breads and desserts. 
Scene: Upscale feel and food at tavern prices. Unhurried dining experience for those 21 and older only. Seating for 30 people in cozy cottage environment.
Drinks: Impressive wine list, craft beers from 7 Seas Brewing, coffee
Prices: $5-$20

ANNOUNCER: Housed in Gig Harbor's historic Garden Clubhouse, JW Restaurant opened in mid-spring to patron praise and media attention - naturally focused on the restaurant's New American dishes with a twist. Managing Partner Jason Winniford and Chef Justin Goodfellow have kept value-pricing in mind at this dinner-only dining establishment. Joining Jason de Paul this week is food and lifestyle writer Jennifer Johnson. The pairing is natural, as the two have dined at JW both separately and together over the last few months. Jake de Paul is spending time with his family ... or something.

JENNIFER: When I visited in April, roasted half chicken mirrored fried chicken. Tender, juicy meat and crisp, seasoned skin grabbed attention. Accompanying peppered green beans retained modest snap (no over-cooking there), and hand-mashed red potatoes were nice and lumpy.  Tarragon, the neglected child of the herb family, gave an elusive essence to excellent gravy (though in June I noted apple cider gravy instead). On the appetizer front, when the prawn starter was placed before me I sighed in dismay at what I saw: only four to an order for $10. At first bite I sighed again, though this time in deep satisfaction. I quickly quit caring about cost. Prawns in a delicate honey glaze were yielding without being mushy, resisted the tooth without being tough or rubbery and came topped with chunky almond dust.

JASON: Pancetta morsels fried crisp in duck fat? That's like steak cooked in bacon drippings. Sliced boiled egg? Who says no to that? Tossed sparingly in blue cheese dressing, I found the spinach salad to be less about greens (though there were plenty) and more about proteins. Surprisingly, a 7 Seas Porter matched up well. In the duck confit sliders, the duck resembled pulled pork. Lush bird was complemented by smoky-sweet, dark orange aïoli and held between toasted, house-made French bread slices.

JENNIFER: Last weekend I sat in the tiny waiting area at JW while the table was readied for Jason and me. As one couple that popped in learned the hard way, weekend reservations are a must. Along with Chef Goodfellow, Winniford has the good habit of making personal table visits throughout both the micro-dining room and the wine bar. On this last visit, server Cody handled things perfectly when informed that I don't drink alcohol; whisking away the complimentary wine all dining guests are greeted with and returning with sparkling apple cider.

JASON: In JW's wild boar bourguignonne, cooking boar in red wine lent the meat a purplish hue and an alluring flavor - it hit your tongue before the raw earthiness that meats like boar, elk, rabbit and buffalo carry overrode it. A seared polenta cake played the role of starch alongside carrots. The bourguignonne is an example of what's essentially pot roast turned fine cuisine.

JENNIFER: Sporadically I stopped mid-conversation, totally wowed by what I was eating. A stone-ground mustard reduction graced the flat iron steak. I was delighted by the contrast in mustard acidity and meaty richness. The steak was cooked exactly as ordered and didn't put up a fight when shown the knife. Crimini mushrooms provided flavor pops. Steak juice ran freely, staining red potato mash. The men of JW have certainly mastered the game; service was shockingly fast. Possibly slow it down a tad, if only to let veggies cook?

JASON: That's truly something you never want to complain about, but I agree. I didn't feel rushed, though; dinner was still almost a two-hour affair. Orange zest crème brûlée was nicely done. The solid sugar top cracked like ice on a lake at the tap of my spoon, revealing a decadent dessert that was everything I wanted it to be.

JENNIFER: Rarely do I feel like I'm being doted on when dining out. JW delivered this and more on every level. This was a top-notch dining experience.

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