New menus are here! This week we released our new Winter Menus featuring delicious new entrees, small plates & desserts!
Make your reservations today so you can try all the good eats!
You can find all of the new menus HERE
She always made hers with Wheat Chex cereal and Cheerios, and added lots of salty Worcestershire and of course real butter, and real garlic (no garlic powder in her musty smelling cupboard), but yes to dried oregano, and lots of skinny pretzels and peanuts, and those big brazil nuts that we kids did not like at all (well really does anyone like those bitter nuts?)–but without (most) of those ingredients it just doesn’t taste right to me.
My good friend Brock insists one has to have Cheetos in your Party Mix and my sister Gayle loves lots of Rice Chex in her’s (I always swapped the extra rice Chex in my handful for the extra Wheat Chex in her’s and always thought I got the better end of the deal…our Bartender Paul swears that his recipe is the best and recently he made a batch that had spaghetti sauce and sun-dried tomatoes that I actually thought pretty tasty!
A chef friend of mine, the late great Billy Pflug even used to put Duck cracklin’s in his gourmet version. Last year, here at PG we deep fried garbanzo beans and julienne salami & pistachio nuts and dubbed it “Chef’s Mix” to great acclaim.
How about yours? Does your family have a secret heirloom recipe?
What indispensable ingredient has to be in your Party Mix for the Holidays?
By the way, also during this month of celebration we are serving two great Champagnes by the glass: Dom Pérignon & Veuve Clicquot at a great price. So get your Merry on! and get down here for some Nuts & Bolts and a glass of Dom or Veuve and let’s celebrate the season—oh and don’t forget to share your secret ingredients with me for your best Party Mix cause I want your recipe to put on my holiday menu next year!
“Pacific Grill serves an amazing happy hour.
In fact, the Best in Tacoma as voted by Weekly Volcano readers. And, it’s one of the few restaurants in downtown Tacoma that offers free wi-fi. My plan yesterday: dart into Pacific Grill, partake in their excellent happy hour, blog quickly and head back into the night.
So there I sat. At Pacific Grill’s corner window table. Pecking away at my laptop. Diners in slacks, suits and ties dined, by candlelight, around me. Sharing anniversary kisses. Toasting birthdays. Soaking in Pacific Grill’s elegance. Me? In jeans, with my laptop open, adding a blue, annoying glow to PG’s refine atmosphere. Nice, huh?
The thing is owner Gordon Naccarato and his crew made me feel welcomed. And the happy hour food held a tight grip on me.
Whether you’re out with the gang bar-hopping or looking for a rendezvous with that significant someone, the kitchen’s sophisticated, creative bar menu is sure to impress. The decor is stunning — 17-foot high exposed beam ceilings, glowing sealifeartforms and intimate lighting — but what truly sets Pacific Grill apart as happy hour destination is the food. Anyone can attempt to create a hip atmosphere, and serve discounted beer and wine, but they’d be crazy to try to offer 50 percent off such bar menu items items as Asian baby back ribs, barbecued oysters, Vietnamese bahn mi, Kob hot dog sliders, Cuban sandwich, meat candy and more.
My favorite is not discounted for happy hour. The steak and eggs ($19.95) — grilled petite beef tenderloin, tender enough to cut with the edge of a fork, topped with raw American Sevruga caviar (eggs — get it?), chives and crème fraiche.
On the side, arugula and crispy potato shreds dressed with a Worcestershire vinaigrette. The care that was given the center of the plate carried over to its side, so that nothing was wasted, ignored or forgotten.”
Ron Swarner–The Weekly Volcano
I’ve been doing that dish since the early 90’s and glad it still is relevant. Bob Evans the Hollywood Mogul/Producer used to order it at the Monkey Bar where I was chef in Hollywood–and then send it back every time “cause there wasn’t enough caviar on it!”
Jack Nicholson his friend was one of the owners so of course we didn’t question Bob about the caviar–but he easily got double what he paid for.
Happy hour: Monday-Friday 2-6 p.m., Saturday 5-6 p.m., Monday-Thursday 9-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 9-11 p.m.
Sue Kidd the food writer for The Tacoma News Tribune recently wrote an article about Happy Hour in local restaurants. In case you missed the article, here it is:
Where: 1502 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma;
Happy hour: 2 p.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 9 p.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 5 p.m-6 p.m. Saturdays; 9 p.m.-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Of all the restaurants sampled for this report, Pacific Grill was the one that made me want to return – repeatedly.
Four pages of menu choices – all but three of the 20-something menu items are half off – and a longer daily offering from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. makes this the tiara for every happy hour diva.
Classic grilled cheese, $6: Cave-aged gruyere sang sweet and nutty against the melody of mildly pungent vintage white cheddar. The cheese duo oozed from between two crusty pieces of grilled country sourdough. The apple (correction: tomato) chutney on the side nudged the sandwich to sublime with just the right amount of sweetness to coax alive the sharp, cheesy flavor. Crispy housemade potato chips were light and airy, leaving me wondering if they were not so much fried as they were air crisped.
How do they do that?
Barbecued oysters, $6.50: Six oysters, barbecued and served in their shells atop an attractive display of rock salt, were loaded with a smoky dose of chewy, delicious pancetta; so much so that the pancetta overpowered the brininess of the oysters. Oyster purists: Skip the pancetta.
Cheeseburger sliders, $5.50: Two juicy, sirloin burgers came perfectly grilled medium as requested. The burgers got cheesy-sweet treatment from tangy Russian dressing and pungent aged white cheddar. Nestled between two nosh-worthy fluffy dinner rolls, the diminutive sliders are small, but decadent. And they come paired with the best fries in town: thinly sliced shoestring potatoes fried crispy with whole garlic cloves and crispy-crunchy sprigs of fried rosemary and sage leaves.
Mussels and fries, $6.50: Sweet, rich and smoky comes with wide appeal. A big plate of sweet, meaty mussels swam nicely with huge chunks of applewood-smoked bacon in a garlic- and basil-scented wine bath. And it comes paired with those amazing garlic fries.
Meat candy, $3: By no means will the five pieces of meat candy fill you up, but it will leave you drooling Homer Simpson-style. I don’t know what I like better about meat candy – the chewy, sticky texture or the sweet-smoky flavor of the creamy roasted sweet dates wrapped up snug and happy inside a thick, chewy jacket of apple-smoked bacon.
Let’s end our week a little more happy, shall we?
One of my favorite snacks on our Bar Menu is the Cheese Toast with Melted Tomatoes. It is great as a late night snack instead of pizza, or as a light supper. And it is great for using up any leftover cheeses after a party.
The “melted tomatoes” refers to a method of slowly cooking the tomatoes at very low temperature inside the oven with just the pilot light on until they almost turn themselves into a sauce.
We toss some ripe tomatoes in a little olive oil and chopped garlic, season them—pop them into the oven—and when we get to work in the morning the tomatoes have “melted” into a simple sauce. All they require is a light chopping and folding in some herbs [like chopped Italian parsley, or thyme, sweet marjoram] and some torn basil leaves.
Recently I had a guest request the recipe I decided to put it on the Blog in case any of the rest of you would also like to give it a try.
1. Gather 1 pound of cheese pieces (any variety: Gruyère, goat, brie, fontina, although too much blue cheese and it will predominate) cut off any mold or very hard rinds, and cube into 1″ pieces.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the cheeses, garlic cloves, about 1/2 cup of dry white wine and a big grinding of black pepper. Process for 30 seconds or so, until the mixture is creamy but not too soft.
3. Salt is usually not needed, but taste the mixture and add some if it is.
4. Pack it into a small container that will fit the amount of cheese. It also can be frozen.
5. The fromage fort is ready to use now, either served cold or spread on bread and broiled for a few minutes. Broiling will brown the cheese and make it wonderfully fragrant.
6. Grill pain rustique with some olive oil until golden and charred a bit.
7. Spread the fromage fort onto the grilled bread and set under the broiler until cheese is golden.
8. Add some chopped oven-roasted tomatoes and olive oil in a saute pan. Heat up, until hot add the basil.
9. Garnish the hot cheese toast on a plate with some of the roasted tomato, piling it up on the cheese toast, cross with the other toast, and add some of the tomato sauce to the plate here and there.
10. Drizzle the toast and tomato with some extra-virgin olive oil, and a sprinkle of chopped Italian parsley.
|Adapted from a recipe by Jacques Pépin, Food & Wine Magazine
Serves approx: 8
Yield: 2 1/4 cups
Start to finish: 10 minutes [not counting the overnight melting of the tomatoes].
As we entered, the Hostess bolted from her perch to make sure she opened the door for us, and welcomed us in. We just want to sit in the bar thanks, we said. We were the only people in the bar. There were two other tables in the dining room at about 7:45pm.
Although I never ate at the Cucina location, I understand the remodel was extensive and the space looks handsome, they sure have done their best to make us forget we are eating at the Tacoma Mall, I thought.
The masculine bar, all marble and dark wood, didn’t scream “wine bar”, but it is definitely comfortable for a mall location, and I ordered a good Cabernet by the glass, which was served in a side carafe with a Riedel stem (probably as an easy way to accurately gauge a 5oz pour without looking like it is being “measured” ). Besides it just looks good.
Kevin orders a draft, and we settle in and read through the extensive menu of Antipasti, Soups & Salads, Entree Salads, Grill Specials, Specialties, Pizza, Pasta, Pasta From The Oven, which all sound delicious. The Mariners are playing on the flat screens, which is distracting in a good way.
[A few quibbles about Menu Writing in General and this Menu in Particular]:
Too many items are redundantly “topped” by this and that, and crusted or lightly crusted–words that don’t add much to the description or understanding of the dish. As you proceed through the various Menu items, one gets reader fatigue– reading the same food modifier over and over again, and the menu begins to have a certain sameness to it.
Also, descriptions such as: Made for a Queen, A Cheese Lover’s Delight, or zesty, seem to me better suited for a restaurant with less lofty ambitions. Let the diner come to their own conclusions.
The “CREAMY PORCINI MUSHROOM SOUP with shitake“ [sp] mushrooms etc…
is correctly spelled Shiitake. Spelled with one less letter i and the mushroom becomes a four letter word.
Having now read through the Menu, but not being very hungry, we decided we really just wanted some good Bar Apps –so we ordered the Italian Burger Sliders with grilled onions and the Flatbread Al Forno with Cambozola blue cheese, and roasted garlic cloves.
The flatbread (really just a disk of pizza dough) was under-baked. It had a few chili flakes scattered over it with some reggiano and was also a tad dry. If only it had been left in that wood burning oven a few minutes longer to develop some char and delicious burned bits here & there around the edges! I asked for some extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle–to moisten it up a little, and then it was much better. And it was very good indeed after smearing it with the roasted garlic cloves and the Cambozola!
They were made from their Meatballs the Bartender explained.
But what under-seasoned meatballs were these!
I couldn’t tell what kind of meat these were made from? Pork? Beef? A combination? Meatballs should be garlicky and bursting with flavors of oregano, Parmesan and maybe some basil too and smell like your Italian Grandma’s house when she’s simmering a pot of tomato sauce on the stove. I think they should give Grandma a call and get her recipe. At least the buns were soft and good Kevin pointed out. But the tangle of dry arugula, piled next to the (3) Sliders, had seen better days, and was beginning to yellow looking old and wilted. It needed a refreshing bath in ice water and a ride in the salad spinner. It wasn’t even fit for staff salad, and should have been thrown in the garbage can!
The Bartender commenting on the warm day, said he couldn’t wait to get the outdoor patio opened…I had to resist wondering aloud if the view would be of the Krispy Kreme Store in the distance, or the Pier 1 parking lot?
I could see myself eating here if I was shopping and famished, as there is nowhere to eat inside the mall –and the menu sounds like it has a lot of interesting things to offer in this handsome dining room [which is light-years ahead of neighbor RED ROBIN].
And, as the Bartender pointed out, Happy Hour $4 pizza is a steal!
But that Mall ambiance does rattle a bit.
On the way out, the Hostess almost tackled us to get the door open first. A simple have a great evening from the Host Stand would have been a little less stressful I think.
I will go back, because I can tell the food is good. And we have a lack of well-prepared interesting Italian in Tacoma.
Flat Bread $9
Meatball Sliders $8
Pint Stella $5
St Michelle Cab Gl $11
Recommended. But watch out for that tackle-greeting at the door!
Adriatic Grill Italian Cuisine and Wine Bar
4201 S. Steel St
We sat in the bar, and decided to try some of their Happy Hour Menu items.
I love this elegantly retro room, with it’s tall ceilings, romantic booths, and dark moody lighting. And I was glad to see they were doing decent business for a Sunday night. I was also glad to see that Gaucho had a Happy hour Menu again, as for a while they had discontinued it…
One of my favorite people in the world (and a former server/assistant manager with us at Pacific Grill) Kari Monreal came by for a hug.
“How’s it going?” I asked her.
“Really intense –the training”, she replied—“ it’s a lot to learn!”
Then charming Hostess Christina Vaughon came by to say hello and to meet my brother.
I ordered a draft beer, and Steve had a glass of red wine.
I was starving, so I immediately told the nice Bartender, Sylvia, to bring me the Tuna Tartare [$9.95]. It arrived on a plate all in components: salt, chile pepper, capers, pine nuts, onion (and oddly) –diced pear– the Bartender explained it also had splash of soy sauce on it.
I tried to toss all the ingredients together which was awkward, since the appetizer arrived on a flat plate with a tiny cocktail fork, a spoon and a dinner fork. It was difficult to accomplish, but tasted ok-to-good, on the toasted sliced crostini that accompanied the tuna. (Although I needed to ask for more crostini to finish the dish). There were about 3 too many ingredients in the dish for me (capers, pears, and pine nuts??) for it to truly be great. It was confused from inception–and the soy sauce unnecessary.
Oliver and I ordered the 1/3 lb El Gaucho Signature Certified Angus Beef Cheeseburger [$5.95]. You can add avocado, or bacon or fries—each for an additional dollar.
I decided to have mine with just fries.
Several minutes later, the Bartender arrived to explain that they had just “run out of fries” !!!
She offered mashed potatoes but there is something inherently wrong and unappealing and un-American to eat a burger with mash.
“Huh? Don’t you have potatoes in the kitchen?” I asked. “Just cut some potato!” we laughed.
They couldn’t (or wouldn’t) so I ordered the side of “skillet hashbrowns”(sp) [$6]. Oliver ordered a side of asparagus.
The impressively gigantic burger arrived, with the side of hash browns. The red onions on the side looked slightly sad and a little brown around the edges, and of course tomatoes are out of season –so I didn’t expect them to be good anyway. The beef was mushy and under-seasoned, and had picked up no discernible char-flavor from the grill. Of course I ate the whole thing anyway, but I was less than impressed. I do have to say for the size it is a bargain though. Next time I’ll ask them to really char the meat–and season it.
The hash browns were also disappointing. They were literally smothered in cheese (more like a potato gratin) and were almost as mushy as mashed potatoes—and almost white-hot with cayenne or white pepper. Not send-back-bad …but still, most customers wouldn’t expect the hash browns to be spicy. And the presentation was gloppy and unappealing.
I have to say: in my book, the only thing worse than over-seasoned food is bland, under-seasoned food. But someone here (hello Chef?) needs to taste the food after it is made to make sure seasonings are spot-on.
Steven ordered the Steamed Manila Clams [$7.95]
The clams arrived with a huge silver sauce-boat of butter. It was easily enough drawn butter to feed a party of 20. An extravagance. The tiny manila clams were steamed with some garlic and white wine and Steve pronounced them “delicious.”
Generous Bartender Sylvia poured me a glass of red wine “on the house” to make up for the French fries I assume. If it is one thing Gaucho always does right is take care of their customers!
In the background, the piano-man was singing another song about love gone bad, glasses tinkled in the dining room, and another fat steak hissed as it hit the grill.
I walked out into the cold drizzling night, stuffed from the sheer size of the burger. Next time I’ll know to split it with a friend so I am not tempted to eat the whole thing. I’ll be back.
[P.S. I have since been informed by Hostess Christina, and Waiter Kari, that I was mistakenly served the “Southwest Scalloped Potatoes“, instead of the Skillet Hashbrowns that I had ordered. That would explain while I felt disappointed with my “hash browns”. However I still feel the presentation sloppy–the scalloped potatoes overcooked & mushy, and they were still over-the-top spicy …with way too much white pepper and/or cayenne!]
El Gaucho® Tacoma
2119 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma , WA 98402
Fulcrum Art Gallery
1308 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma