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Social Bar and Grill opens tonight on Tacoma’s Foss Waterway

Post by Sue Kidd / The News Tribune on July 26, 2011 at 4:46 pm | 1 Comment »
July 26, 2011 5:18 pm

Ahi poke, swordfish skewers, pork belly sandwiches, roasted duck, pitchers of sangria – sign me up for Social.

Tonight’s the night. After a soft opening for family and friends over the weekend, Social Bar and Grill, which I told you about in June, is starting dinner service this evening. Curious about the location? It’s in the old Woody’s on the Water space next to the Museum of Glass.

Social will keep soft dinner hours this week (check the box below for details), but plans to offer lunch and dinner service daily starting Aug. 6.

A trio of Matador alumni are the crafters of Social. There’s Philip Panagos, who most recently worked as the general manager of Tacoma’s Matador, and Jason Bailey, who was the manager of Paddy Coyne’s until April this year; before that, he worked for Matador for five years on the opening crew for five of the Tex-Mex chain’s restaurants. Panagos and Bailey will own and operate the restaurant with Rodel Borromeo, who until recently was Matador’s corporate executive chef.

Social, by design, is meant to be communal. Shareable pitchers of drinks, shareable plates and maybe even shareable seating if diners buy into the idea of dining among strangers. Of course, communal dining is something that some diners find too tricky to navigate. I get the complaints, I don’t always want to be seated by the loud guy who is yelling into his cell phone, but sometimes I’m OK with meeting new people at dinner, so long as they play nice and don’t try to eat off my plate. We’ll see how that shapes up. The atmosphere at Social is rustic industrial. Panagos described a dining room with polished concrete floors, shelving made from reclaimed wood, and the bar was reshaped and the kitchen opened up to give the diner a view of the action.

Panagos today said by phone that they are “99 percent” ready (he jests) and our talk skewed to the menu, as it always does when I’m grilling new restaurant owners. I’m eager to try a few things. They are:

Calamari: Typically a terribly predictable menu item like coconut prawns, Social’s calamari sounds as if Borromeo has his gullet in the right place. The calamari is coated in rice flour, fried and served with capers? I’m intrigued.

Skewers: Swordfish skewers, and satay skewers with a choice of chicken, shrimp or steak. I wonder if they’re as good as the skewers at Asado? They’re served with a deep-fried rice balls. I’m curious what that might taste like.

Sangria: Helloooooo summer. Well, OK. Summer is just a touch elusive, but I’m of the mind that summer sometimes really can be just a state of mind when you live in Western Washington. Red wine sangria has a trio of berries and the white comes with melon and grapes. Boozy drinks with a serving of fruit? That’s healthy, right?

Ahi poke: Cured with sake and seaweed and served with black and white sesame seeds. Why don’t more restaurants serve this? Oh, yeah. That’s right. Diners get a little sketchy about eating raw fish. Not me, though. I’ll eat it.

Spanish roasted duck: Duck leg served in a light broth with bread from Essential Bakery on the side. Not exactly summer eating, but this isn’t exactly summer, so it sounds interesting.

Look for small plates starting in the $5 range. There will be large plates, too, and those will top out at $20. Panagos and Borromeo described the menu as painted by their travels to Mexico, Italy, The Mediterranean and South Pacific.

Hey boaters, guess what? They’ve got moorage. Check the restaurant for details. If you pay Social a visit, check back in here and let us know how it went. I’ll be doing my usual first bite report in the coming weeks after the restaurant wears off its shiny a little bit.

Social Bar and Grill
Where: 1715 Dock St., Tacoma
Tentative hours: Opening tonight. Dinner service through Sunday. Closed Monday Aug. 1, then more dinner service next week. They expect to be open for daily lunch and dinner service beginning Aug. 6.
Info: 253-301-3835 or thesocialbarandgrill.com (under construction)
Dress: Casual.
Food: Shareable plates and craft cocktails in the mid-range

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