There’s a new place in Gig Harbor to sit on a deck and enjoy the waterfront. The Red Rooster Café is a casual seat-yourself restaurant with a breakfast and lunch menu in a very affordable under-$10 price range. The waterfront views from the deck are perfect for late summer al fresco dining.
Owner Jamie English Radcliffe is a newcomer to owning her own restaurant, but grew up in a restaurant family. The 1992 Gig Harbor High School graduate is the daughter of the owners of Mr. Munchies, a restaurant that was in Tacoma’s James Center when Radcliffe was a child (it’s since long gone).
I paid two anonymous breakfast visits to the restaurant that opened Aug. 2 and found a restaurant working hard to get it right.
The menu moves to sandwiches, soups and salads later in the day (I’ll be back to try sandwiches made with “Dave’s Killer Bread”), but a delectable-sounding breakfast menu of waffles, French toast and crepes held my interest. The crepe menu offered four kinds each of savory and sweet crepes. Sweet crepes are something I’m used to seeing, but savory crepes are much harder to find here.
The menu descriptions of the crepes were low on words, or at least I thought they were. I was disappointed to learn the austere descriptions were literal reflections. A mushroom and arugula crepe ($8) was that, and only that. No sauce, cheese, herbs or other ingredients to mesh together or punch up the bland, under-seasoned mushrooms and arugula paired with an eggy, rubbery crepe.
On another visit, a roasted vegetable-and-goat cheese version ($8) was slightly more flavorful from the tepid cheese, but tasted dry. The smoked salmon, spinach and cream cheese ($8) had a slightly better texture from the smear of cream cheese, but it also tasted dry and rubbery. It was almost as if the crepes were merely wraps with minimal vegetables and cheese as ingredients. As a concept, I didn’t understand it. Visit a creperie in Vancouver B.C. – a city brimming with small walk-in crepe restaurants – and diners will find savory, tender crepes stuffed with fresh herbs, gooey melted cheese and flavorful sauces that meld together textures and flavors. Those are the kinds of savory crepes diners crave.
An apple and cinnamon waffle ($8) was crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside. The batter turned more savory than salty, but the cinnamon-perfumed apples sweetened it up, along with warm syrup.
The crème brulee French toast ($8) was swoon-worthy with a custardy texture and just enough bready bite to give the French toast interest. It was fragrant with vanilla and just a hint of citrus.
Sides were delicious. Fresher-than-fresh fruit accompanies every breakfast entreé: melon and grapes on one visit; melon and strawberries on another. Apple sausage ($2) was tender and savory, a delicious accompaniment to the sweet, custardy French toast. Espresso drinks were perfectly executed.
There are glimmers of greatness at the Red Rooster: the service was friendly, energetic and spot-on perfect. Water glasses never went empty and a server on one visit was appropriately apologetic with a sensible excuse of an overburdened kitchen when breakfast was unusually slow. They have the art of service down.
The atmosphere invites for lounging. True to its name, the restaurant features a cuter-than-cute country style decor with roosters everywhere. It’s the kind of place you’ll want to take your grandma and your cool friend to lunch. The warm environment made me want to stick around and linger a little.
Red Rooster Café
Where: 3313 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor
Contact: 253-514-8175 or redroostergigharbor.com
Hours: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily