TNT Diner

Good eats and drinks around Tacoma, Pierce County and South Puget Sound

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Archives: Oct. 2008


News about our restaurant critic position, and a pat on the back

I’m back this morning from the American Association of Sunday and Features Editors conference in Houston. In case you didn’t hear, The News Tribune was named Thursday one of the top 10 features sections in the country, regardless of circulation category. We competed and won in the same category as the LA Times, the New York Times, the Kansas City Star and other major newspapers. It’s quite an accomplishment from our features staff, really. Kudos to the hardworking people of SoundLife who won this award.

Many of our readers know we are actively interviewing candidates for our

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Stop shaking the salt

Yesterday, I had a business lunch at an Italian restaurant in Parkland. I ordered tortellino (a larger version of tortellini, I was told) in a cream sauce.

The dish arrived and I ate two maybe three of the pasta rings before I had to put down my fork. The only flavor I could pick up was salt.

The server didn’t seem concerned that I’d barely touched the plate. I didn’t complain as I was deep in conversation. Another diner at my table ordered the same thing and finished hers.

While I enjoyed the food on my

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A Hub for pizza, pints and more

Julie Holt of Bremerton, from left, Cassie Kendall of Fife, and Graham Parsons of Tacoma enjoy food and beverages at The Hub in Tacoma’s Stadium District. Peter Haley/The News Tribune

Here is today’s Drop-In Dining report about a new or new-to-us restaurant. Reporters drop in unannounced and sample the food, on the TNT’s dime, then report to you what the scene and food was like. Have a suggestion for a drop-in dining feature? E-mail us at

The Hub
Where: 203 Tacoma Ave. S., Tacoma
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays,
11 a.m.-1 a.m. Fridays, 9 a.m.-
1 a.m. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Sundays
Details: All major credit cards except Diners Club
Phone: 253-683-4606
Price Range: $-$$

By Craig Sailor

The scene: Occupying the space formerly known as the St. Helens Cafe, The Hub’s bicycle theme is carried through in its display of vintage photography and prominently displayed logo of a Belle Epoque nude woman riding a bike in a reckless manner. Though The Hub sits above Doyle’s Pub, the entrance for this eatery is on Tacoma Avenue South. Two dining areas are separated by an open kitchen and bar. Earth tones and art make the whole room warm, inviting and relaxing. The flames from the pizza oven add to the mood. In good weather, garage-style doors roll up to add an outdoor dining area.

Type of food: As the menu says, "Pizza, Pasta, Pints." The "pints" are key here as The Hub operates under the umbrella of the Harmon Brewing Co. You’ll find the Harmon’s five flagship brews as well as two seasonals on tap. The menu is Mediterranean-themed but shares some of the Harmon’s popular offerings.

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BJ’s at the mall

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse opened Monday at the Tacoma Mall.

The California-based chain is known for its deep-dish pizza, but also has a selection of pastas, specialty salads, soups, sandwiches and creative appetizers like avocado egg rolls.

From BJ’s microbrewery, diners can sample seven standards, including ales and stout, as well as specialty beers. Currently, BJ’s is featuring pumpkin ale on tap.

BJ’s is open 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday.

See more menu items and beer selections at

Look for BJ’s in a

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Brix 25 welcomes a new toque, and a moment of silence for Shakabrah

I was in Los Angeles last week (they now officially have more Vietnamese restaurants than we do, a change from my last trip there). I did a little trip to Disneyland with the family unit and found out, that, uh huh, just like last year’s trip to Disneyland, the food at the park pretty much still sucks. I did eat a pretty good corndog in line for California Screamin’, though. But enough about my trip southward.

Here’s what I missed, and because I was gone, here’s what you missed:

* The sad: Exit 133 reported a few

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Drop-In Dining: India Mahal

Here is today’s Drop-In Dining report. DID is a dining report about a new or new-to-us restaurant. Reporters drop in unannounced and sample the food, on the TNT’s dime, then report to you what the scene and food was like. Have a suggestion for a drop-in dining feature? E-mail us at

India Mahal
Location: 1905 Bridgeport Way, University Place
Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays and noon-10 p.m. Sundays
Phone: 253-564-2039
Price range: $

By Sue Kidd

The scene:
A waft of Indian spices nails you before you can even pull open the front door. Small, cozy, welcoming and fragrant are the best descriptors for this restaurant.

Type of food: Indian food from the northern region of India, which includes traditional Punjabi dishes and specialties from other Northern India states.

Menu highlights: Flavor-punched is a great way to describe Northern-style Indian food. Although commonly described as spicy by some Americans, Northern Indian food is more flavorful than spicy hot. However, those with sensitive palates might find their delicate taste buds confused by the intensity of the flavors. If you’re skeptical, it’s best to start easy with a rice (biryani) dish and some naan.

Tandoori-cooked chicken and lamb ($11.95 to $14.95) also are a sure bet for an Indian food newbie. The Indian style marinated and barbecued meats are accessible to most palates.

Aromatic rice biranyi dishes ($11.95-$12.95) and favorites like Chicken Vindaloo ($11.95) and Butter Chicken ($12.95) will appeal to those who are familiar fans of Northern-style Indian food.

Another thought for those not familiar with the nuance of Indian cuisine: Go for overkill in the form of a feast. The Pride of Punjab Family Style Dinner ($39.95 for two or $19 per person for three or more for the meat version of the dinner; a vegetarian version of the dinner also can be ordered) comes with two appetizers, two main dishes, a vegetarian entrée, rice, naan, two desserts and more. It’s a great introduction to the food.

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Attention lutefisk lovers

I have to admit: I’ve never tried lutefisk. But those who do eat it love it. One of those folks is Jonathan Nesvig, an editor here at the TNT.

Nesvig told me that The Sons of Norway is putting on its annual Lutefisk Dinner Sunday, Oct. 12 from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. at Normanna Hall.

The dinner will include lutefisk, meatballs, lefse “and all the trimmings,” according to a flyer he handed me.

Lefse is a traditional Norweigian soft flatbread made from potatoes and other ingredients. Yes, I had to look it up in Wikipedia.

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White queso dip — where is it?

I’ve received a query that I can’t answer, so I’m throwing it out to all of you.

A TNT reader grew up in the Midwest. At Mexican restaurants there, white queso sauce was everywhere. (It does make a tasty complement to chips.) Out here, she can’t find it.

Any ideas?