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March 23, 2015 at 8:03am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: First Round action, plus yesterday's results

Engine House No. 9's Tailgate Mac And Cheese (pictured) takes on the Topside Bar & Grill in today's Tournament of Mac and Cheese action. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner


It's Monday, March 23, which means I tempt you with more South Sound mac and cheese battles in the Tournament of Mac and Cheese. First, a touch of mac and cheese history: Thomas Jefferson helped make macaroni and cheese popular in the United States after sampling it in Italy. He brought home a pasta maker and introduced the dish in 1802. Mac and cheese is obviously the food of presidents, for it was also Ronald Reagan's favorite. Reagan enjoyed a little dry mustard and Worcestershire in his mac and cheese.

Without further ado, let's take a gander at yesterday's results, and then preview today's matches. ...

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: Harmon Brewery & Eatery vs. McNamara's Pub & Eatery

Unexpectedly, this was an epic battle ... the kind of thing Tournament of Mac and Cheese "instant classics" are made of. A surprisingly low scoring affair, with much of the action on defense, the fifth seeded Harmon Brewery & Eatery and the 12th seeded McNamara's Pub & Eatery were in a dead heat - literally tied - going into the final hours of the competition. Back at Weekly Volcano World Headquarters, Tournament of Mac and Cheese officials frantically discussed what to do in the case of a tie? Overtime? Coin flip? See which establishment could deliver mac and cheese to our Lakewood office the fastest? In the end, The Harmon edged out the win, securing exactly 52.94 percent of the vote. This one will go down in the history books.

Game 2: Over The Moon Café vs. Quickie Too

Over The Moon Cafe quickly comes to the lips of many when discussing the best South Sound mac and cheese. So, perhaps it's no surprise that the romantic café tucked in Tacoma's Opera Alley frequented by lunching ladies and lovers alike did serious damage in yesterday's action, kicking Niombi and James Howell's beloved vegan restaurant to the curb while garnering 59 percent of the vote. Over The Moon Cafe moves on as a mac and cheese to reckon with in later rounds of Tournament of Mac and Cheese action.

Game 3: Westside Tavern vs. The Swiss Restaurant & Pub

Westside Tavern and The Swiss Restaurant & Pub battled back and forth all day, changing leads several times. It's our guess that Westside Tavern's Facebook push might have made the difference as the Westside Olympia joint ended up edging out The Swiss with 59 percent of the votes.

Game 4: El Gaucho vs. Panera Bread

The other close game was El Gaucho vs. Panera Bread. We dropped by both restaurants yesterday to check out the behind-the-scenes game day action. Surprisingly, the quieter one - El Gaucho -ended up winning with 55 percent of the votes. It could be that the downtown Tacoma fine-dining restaurant was pushing their Washington wines hard. Smart move. El Gaucho will meet Westside Tavern in the second Round March 28. Lives will change after this one.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Second Round:

Harmon Brewery & Eatery

Over The Moon Cafe

Westside Tavern

El Gaucho

The daily mac and cheese battles here on Served in the South Sound are sponsored by BITE Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Murano.

OK, let's check out today's First Round mac and cheese battles. Vote for one mac and cheese dish per battle. Voting for today's mac and cheese battles ends at 11:45 p.m.

Tomorrow's First Round Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: Masa (2811 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. Steel Creek American Whiskey Co. (1114 Broadway, Tacoma)

Game 2: Chambers Bay Grill (6320 Grandview Dr. W., University Place) vs. Lunchbox Laboratory (4901 Point Fosdick Dr. NW, Gig Harbor)

Game 3: Ricardo's Restaurant (5211 Lacey Blvd. SE, Lacey) vs. Oly Rockfish Grill (700 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia)

Game 4: Top of Tacoma Bar and Café (3529 McKinley Ave. E., Tacoma) vs. South Bay Pub & Eatery (3323 S. Bay Road NE, Olympia)

At 6 p.m. Monday, April 6, join us at McNamara's Pub & Eatery in DuPont for the Official Tournament of Mac and Cheese Party - our winner will be announced during halftime of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game.

December 17, 2014 at 10:31am

Beer Here: Lagunitas night, Pelican party, holiday sweaters, Troll Crank ride ...

Ho ho ho yo!

You're lagging in the Christmas spirit this year. Just like last year. And the year before. Scrooging has always been your go-to reaction to the yuletide, but as your grow older, fatter and more sentimental, it's increasingly unacceptable to be crotchety and contrarian. It's unsavory. So, you decide to be proactive. You set aside this coming week to gorge yourself on Christmas cheer. By which I mean beer. ...


Engine House No. 9's 25 Days of Christmas beer-a-day countdown is going strong. Stop by 611 N. Pine St. and discover today's present.

Harmon Tap Room is hosting the 12 Beers of Christmas, tapping a different small batch holiday brew, every day, for 12 days in a row. By the way, the Tap Room just added 10 new taps.

Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, California, releases anticipated seasonals every year with high levels of alcohol and names as charismatic and irreverent as any beer might hope for - Lagunitas' own Imperial IPA, brewed since 1996, is called Maximus. Brown Shugga, a seasonal brew from Lagunitas, was created in 1997 as the result of an attempt to rescue a failed batch of Olde GnarlyWine Ale by adding "boatloads of brown sugar" - or so the story goes, anyway. Fingers crossed, The Swiss will be pouring it at its Lagunitas Brewer's Night from 6-9 p.m. Yeah, yeah, yeah, woo!

As I have written ad nauseam, a steady stream of big, goonish stouts are filling shelves and taps. Some of these seasonals are worth the fuss and price (Deschutes' The Abyss, for example - head to The Red Hot Sunday) while many others are lopsided thanks to hyper-inflated alcohol content and overblown flavor infusions. Pelican Pub & Brewery's Tsunami Stout rises to the top. With a color only a few minutes from midnight and a thick but clean pour, it has a satisfying, but not overpowering (7 percent), heariness. Big, roasty cocoa flavors dominate, but hopheads will find that Magnum and Willamette hops impart a slice of crisp citrus and a cherry topper. Drink it and eight other Pelican brews at 99 Bottles, beginning at 5 p.m. The first 48 people to check in at the Federal Way beer store will score a free Pelican glass.

The 2nd Annual Cheers to Winter Beers event takes place at 6 p.m. in the Puyallup River Alehouse. Here's the deliciousness owner Eric Akeson has planned for patrons: 10 Barrel Pray For Snow, Alaskan Winter, Elysian Bifrost, Widmer Brrr, Redhook Winterhook, Anderson Valley Winter Solstice, Naked City Potlatch Smoked Maple Brown Ale, The Lost Abbey Merry Taj Christmas IPA, Puyallup River Old Pioneer Winter Ale and others. "Our 2014 Old Pioneer Winter Ale is a new recipe for this year," says Akeson. "Last year, we brewed a malt-forward Amber Ale with vanilla beans and lavender. This year, we're brewing an Imperial Red IPA-style beer, with a big, dry hop that all the hop heads are going to love." Santa will arrive at 7 p.m.


Top Rung Brewing runs its My Dog Stout through a Randall loaded with candy canes beginning at 4 p.m.

How much wood can the Woodchuck Hard Cider chuck if the Woodchuck Hard Cider could chuck wood? I have no idea, but Topside Bar & Grill is allowing the Vermont cidery to take over four of its handles, beginning at 6 p.m.


Want to drink a Cozy Sweater while wearing an ugly holiday sweater? Twisted Kilt Irish Pub hosts an ugly sweater party with an emphasis on Iron Horse Brewery beers, including Irish Death, Mocha Dream and said sweater. Expect a DJ spinning and giveaways, beginning at 9 p.m.


Top Rung Brewing hosts an ugly holiday sweater festival from 2-9 p.m., with a contest going down at 7 p.m. Santa will drop off a food truck. The Outlanders will play bluegrass beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Randall will be working overtime.

Also hosting an ugly holiday sweater party is Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. Those who don holiday cheer will receive a dollar off every pint, from 6-9 p.m., and entered into a contest to win a PB&M gift basket.

Itchin' for an excuse to pull that bicycle out of storage and get some extra wear out of your Santa hat? Saddle up and get ready to ride through the streets of Tacoma drunkon candy canes and the drinks they garnished. The Tacoma Mob Rider invites revelers to jump on their pedal-driven sleighs and eat and drink their way through Tacoma, Saturday. The Troll Crank zaniness begins at 7 p.m. inside the canned beer and bicycle shop Broken Spoke. From there, the pack moves on to other fine establishments, which will be revealed over cans of beer at the Spoke. It's free to participate, but you'll be shelling out cash for anything you eat or drinkalong the way. Tacoma Mob Rules asks you to dress festive, with a nod toward Crosby sweaters.

Tacoma Stars have dubbed Saturday, Dec. 20, "Wingman Brewers Night" for their soccer match against the Arlington Aviators. Wingman beer is now pouring at every match in the Far Post Bar at the Tacoma Soccer Center (2610 East Bay St., Tacoma). Saturday, beginning at 7:30 p.m., added giveaways and handshakes from the Wingman crew are an added bonus.


The Red Hot hosts its 3rd annual Darkest Day festival, while across the street Engine House No. 9 unleashes its 2014 Snow Cru, plus a multitude of other E9 big beers. Details on these Tacoma joints' celebrations of the longest night of the year can be found here.


Fish Tale Brew Pub hosts the 15th Annual Holiday Brass Bash at 7:30 p.m. Trumpeter Andy Omdahl will lead a brass-tastic band, rattle beer pints and the donation boxes for Thurston County Food Bank.

July 11, 2014 at 9:38am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Topside Bar and Grill

Topside Bar and Grill's creamy Coastal Mac & Cheese / photo credit: Pappi Swarner

In May 1670, Prince Rupert, cousin of King Charles II, acquired the fur rich lands of the Hudson Bay in northeastern Canada to "the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson Bay." Its first century of operation found Hudson's Bay Company firmly ensconced in a few forts and posts around the shores of James and Hudson Bays. Natives brought furs annually to these locations to barter for manufactured goods such as knives, kettles, beads, needles and blankets. By the late 18th century competition forced HBC to expand into the interior. In 1824, HBC chief factor John Work happened upon pink flower-covered hillsides flowing down to Puget Sound. He called the area Chilacoom, a variation of the resident Indian chief's name. In March 2012, John O'Reilly took over the Steilacoom space that formerly housed Jake's Bar & Bistro, where he had a stint tending bar, and renamed it Topside Bar and Grill. In honor of the town's British connection, O'Reilly secures Coastal Mature Cheddar from Ford Farm in the UK on the Ashley Estate located between Dorset Downs and the Jurassic Coast as his main ingredient in his Topside Coastal Mac & Cheese. The milk in the cheese comes from cows that graze on lush pastures, which makes the milk rich, creamy and perfect for making cheese.

Coastal Mature Cheddar is sweet and salty. The texture is typical of English cheddar, rugged, crumbly and slightly crunchy. Topside chefs add it to their creamy mac and cheese base, mix it with firm penne pasta and top it with toasted bread crumbs ($16). The flavor is wonderfully, nutty with a slight sharp flavor. For an extra $6, you may add fresh Dungeness crabmeat or bay shrimp.

Served only at dinner, I suggest enjoying the Coastal Mac & Cheese from Topside's deck with a spectacular view of Puget Sound, and pair it with Ninkasi's Total Domination IPA.

TOPSIDE BAR AND GRILL, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, 215 Wilkes St., Steilacoom, 253.212.3690

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

May 27, 2014 at 2:57pm

Eat This Now: Reuben sandwich

The Reuben at The Bair Bistro in Steilacoom. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Last time I visited my friend Heide in New York, I stumbled, quite accidentally, upon a great corned beef on rye at one of her favorite breakfast diner stops. Finding a high quality sandwich at a small coffee shop known more for its matzoh brei and blintzes than its meat on bread wasn't really much of a shock. The Big Apple is the unofficial capital of ethnic delicatessens.

Back home again, I wondered how the South Sound's delis would stack up when the urge for one of Manhattan's famed heart-stoppers hits.

Seeing as this endeavor begs the question of sandwich authenticity, let me say that a little research proved that there is much confusion over the, er, Reuben. So many competing parties lay claim to its invention (and therefore proper construction) that it's hard to separate the possibly valid from the surely apocryphal. For instance, to grill or not to grill, that is a question that has bothered many a brisket.


Filed under: Eat This Now, Steilacoom,

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

Budi Sdk said:

A very interesting article, to add insight can be read at


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?

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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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