TNT Diner

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

Archives: Oct. 2009


Drink to this: Basil crazy at Tempest

It’s pretty typical to see cocktails at Tempest Lounge in Tacoma start with a base of freshly-squeezed juice. The manual juicer on Tempest’s bar gets a rigorous workout. Right now, Tempest also has a cocktail made with fresh basil. Click “more” for the recipe. In other Tempest news, the bar recently was granted all-ages status. From co-owner Denise Tempest, “Our hope is to increase our food business with families looking for an alternative dining spot.  Our regulars with kids are thrilled.”

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Drink to this: Twitter cocktail contest

I asked on the TNT Diner twitter account (@tntdiner) for Tacoma bars to email me drink recipes last week and I got an interesting reply: tweeted cocktail recipes from Hotel Murano (@hotel_murano), which is a frequent tweeter in the tweeta-verse.

I liked the idea so much, I thought I’d propose it here as a TNT Diner contest with a cocktail recipe book and a cookbook as prizes for the best cocktail tweets. Click “more” for details and to get the tweeted recipes from Hotel Murano.

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Drink to this: Starburst vodka at Varsity Grill

Last week it was Starburst candies steeping in a jar of vodka on the bar at Varsity Grill. This week, it will be sour apple Jolly Ranchers. The bartenders at Varsity Grill also have steeped vodka with Sour Patch kids, Skittles and Gummi Bears.
Steep the candy in the vodka and it delivers a candy flavor that tastes “just like you’d think it would taste – like candy,” said Varsity Grill bartender Nick Weston. And bar patrons at Varsity Grill like the sweet vodka concoctions.
The kitschy idea percolated from a martini club get together. The bar has an infuser and whatever candy sounds good is thrown in. “It doesn’t take long to make,” said Weston, “Just a few hours,” he said…… Read more »


Drink to this: Elderflower cocktails at Top of Tacoma

Jaime Kay Newton, who owns and runs Top of Tacoma with Jason J. Jones, has gone floral with her cocktails. St. Germain has been showing up on cocktail menus around town for months – from the new(ish) 1022 South to Maxwell’s Speakeasy + Lounge.

Newton said it’s the flavor profile that makes St. Germain elderflower liqueur such an interesting ingredient. “It’s really floral, we’ve done a lot of experimenting with it. It goes nicely with grapefruit juice,” said Newton. As of late, she’s been mixing a grapefruit infused Finlandia vodka with St. Germain….. Read more »


Drink to this: Cocktail recipes from Tacoma bars

This week I’ll be writing about cocktailing around Tacoma bars. From the housemade peppercorn-infused tequila at Pacific Grill to the elderflower cocktail at Top of Tacoma and the Starburst-infused vodka at Varsity Grill – I’ve collected cocktail recipes from Tacoma bartenders – and tips for making the drinks at home. Have a cocktail you’d like the recipe for? Email or just comment here.

The lineup:
Today: Pacific Grill’s Urban Bourbon and a peppery margarita
Tuesday: Elderflower cocktails at Top of Tacoma
Wednesday: Varsity Grill’s candy-infused vodka (think Starburst and jolly ranchers)
Thursday: Hotel Murano’s puckery drinks (and a twitter cocktail recipe contest)
Friday: Tempest’s obsession with basil and lime

Click more to read about Pacific Grill’s grown-up cocktails, including a margarita with a peppery sting.

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First Bite: Sparks Deli in Puyallup

Chris Johnston, owner of Sparks Firehouse Deli in Puyallup. (Lui Kit Wong/The News Tribune)
Chris Johnston, owner of Sparks Firehouse Deli in Puyallup. (Lui Kit Wong/The News Tribune)

By Craig Hill
The News Tribune

On football nights in Puyallup, it feels like the Sparks Firehouse Deli has been a part of the community forever.
On a recent Wednesday night, as the Kalles Junior High School football team walked from its school to Sparks Stadium, somebody in the restaurant noticed the clacking of cleats on the sidewalk. Minutes later, everybody in the outdoor dining area was standing and clapping. Read more »


A service quandary, a complaint, and a big sigh

Question for diners: How do you approach the new fast casual dining concept that more restaurants seem to be embracing? I’m talking about restaurants like Pizzeria Fondi, which require you order at the counter, then find your own table. A server shuttles the food to you. Sometimes they come by to check on you, sometimes you never hear from them again after they drop off your food. Sometimes you pay at the beginning of the meal, sometimes you pay at the end of the meal.

My most recent experience with a hybrid restaurant was this week at Blazing Onion, which opened in Gig Harbor’s Uptown shopping center in September (we reviewed four restaurants at Uptown, including Pizzeria Fondi, recently. Read the story here).

My problem is that I feel like I don’t know what to expect anymore as a diner at these kinds of restaurants. And the experience has left me baffled. And here’s why… Read more »