TNT Diner

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

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Archives: March 2010


Locally made candy for any Easter basket

Pictured here are chocolate covered eggs, a chocolate covered marshmallow Peep and chocolate covered peanut butter smidgens. All are available at Johnson Candy in Tacoma. Photo by Jeremy Harrison/Staff photographer

I appreciate emails from readers asking where to locally source something that is easy enough to pick up at any drug store. In my inbox this week, a request from a reader asking where to buy locally made/produced chocolate for Easter baskets.

I’m a big fan of chocolate (wouldn’t you be suspicious of any food writer who wasn’t?), and locally, I can think of three businesses that craft chocolates worthy of a gift or Easter basket. My chocolate loving mind instantly goes to the Johnson Candy Company, which has been a longtime staple in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood, and the producer of candy here for more than 80 years.

I stopped by Johnson Candy to peruse the Easter inventory and I was flabbergasted by the array of Easter candy in the store now. Turn a circle in the store, and you’ll find something handcrafted and special to tuck into any Easter basket. Click “more” to see what I found at Johnson Candy, and to read the e-mail from a reader explaining why she wants locally sourced chocolate for her child’s Easter basket. Read more »


Easter dining: Restaurants serving meals this Sunday

I’ve had a few calls and e-mails asking where to go for Easter dining this Sunday. I called around and found a handful of restaurants offering Easter dining. Some are sit down service, some are buffet meals. Click “more” to see the list. Don’t see your favorite restaurant listed? Ask and we’ll check it out. And feel free to share information on restaurants you know that will be offering Easter dining.


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Eggplant on the menu: It’s not just for vegetarians

Pictured here is fried eggplant with tofu, on the menu at Le-Le Restaurant in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood. Photo by Dean J. Koepfler/Staff photographer

Eggplant can transcend culture and cuisine. It’s a vegetable at home in any number of cultures. I found it on the menus here at Italian, Indian, Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants.

Eggplant can be relegated to side-dish status or always in the ubiquitous eggplant parmesan. I purposely left that dish off the list for this assignment; it’s too easily found. I was going for eggplant esoteric here.

In restaurants around town, eggplant takes center stage in inventive ways for vegetarians – or even for an omnivore looking to add just a bit more nutrition with dinner. However, as is the case with much restaurant food, eggplant is only as healthy as the ingredients with which it’s prepared.

Click more to read about four eggplant dishes on menus now. If you eat a vegetarian diet, please note that the level of vegetarian friendly varies at every restaurant. Ask before ordering.

Your turn: Please comment here to tell us where you eat your favorite eggplant dish, even if it’s eggplant parmesan.
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First Bite: DIY dogs at Hot Rod Dog on Tacoma Ave

Pictured here, a Chicago style DIY dog I made at Hot Rod Dog. Mustard, relish, onions, a pickle spear and celery salt (MIA: poppy seed bun, sport peppers, tomato slice).

Two things I like about a walk-in spot like Hot Rod Dog:

1. A DIY condiment bar that lets dog lovers load up on onions, mustard, relish, pickles, peppers, etc. etc. etc. It’s fast service eating, and customized all you want. In and out in five minutes, even if there’s a line? I’m a fan.

2. Great dogs. And when I say great, I mean deep-down delicious (no fatty fillers!). Blue Max Sausage Co. in Puyallup is responsible for those delectable smoked sausages.

Hot Rod Dog opened its second outpost last month, which I wrote about here.

Lines can spill out the door when it gets busy, but it moves fast. A table and a few chairs are out front, but all that’s inside is a counter for noshing. But hot dogs are walking around food, so who needs a table, right? Read more »


Lounge act: Two restaurants expand to offer live music

In an era when restaurants are closing at what seems like an even faster than usual pace, it’s good news when restaurants expand.

LeLe’s Gig Harbor restaurant, the upscale outpost of the Tacoma Hilltop Thai and Vietnamese restaurant that opened last year, just expanded its restaurant to include a lounge; and Sumay, the Indian restaurant in Puyallup that opened just over a year ago, recently started an expansion. Click more to see what’s in store for both restaurants. Read more »


Happy Birthday to Ivar; $1.05 food specials Tuesday

Tomorrow would have been the 105th birthday for Ivar Haglund, the founder of the Ivar’s restaurant chain, and iconic Seattle character. To celebrate, the Northwest restaurant chain is offering a buy one, get the second entree for $1.05 tomorrow, March 23. Click more for South Sound locations for the fish and chips restaurants and to read the press release about the deal tomorrow (and, please note, to get the deal, it appears you have to wish Ivar a happy birthday). Read more »


Garry Scholz talks with local chefs about wine pairing

In case you missed the SoundLife food section in yesterday’s paper, we published an interesting wine column by personal chef and wine columnist Garry Scholz about how three restaurant professionals – Chef Thad Lyman of Brix 25 in Gig Harbor, Wine Director Leonard Young of Water Street Cafe and Bar in Olympia and Chef Billy Roberson of Cicada in Olympia – pair Washington wines with dishes that have Northwest flair.

Read the entire column here.


Having fun with ice cream II: Jameson Whiskey Ice Cream

Jameson Whiskey Ice Cream.

Last year, I had fun with a Guinness ice cream recipe from Babblin’ Babs bistro owner William Mueller. I also crafted up some Bailey’s ice cream. This year, I turned to Jameson Irish whiskey as the flavor vehicle for my St. Patrick’s Day dinner dessert (corned beef and cabbage will be the main attraction).

When it comes to ice cream flavored with booze, a few things apply. First, don’t feed it to kids. Even though most of the alcohol cooks off during the cooking process, it’s still not a good idea. Consider this a grown-up only ice cream. Second, too much whiskey in an ice cream, like too much Guinness in ice cream, is not a good thing. If you like a pronounced whiskey flavor, a half cup will suffice. If you have more of a subtle palate, then a quarter cup is all you need. You really need to like whiskey to get into this ice cream. The flavor is something akin to a grown-up version of butterscotch. It would pair really well with this. Click more for the Jameson whiskey ice cream recipe. Read more »