Seven Tacoma area restaurants will vie for bragging rights to the best sliders in town Saturday night (March 3, 2012) at Shake, Rattle and Grill, a Museum of Glass event.
I asked participating restaurants what kind of mini-sandwiches they’d be cooking. Here’s what they reported. I also assembled my own self-directed slider competition and came up with sliders you can try anytime at South Sound restaurants. (UPDATE: The event is close to selling out, call the museum for availability).
SEVEN RESTAURANTS COMPETING AND WHAT THEY’LL SERVE:
Adriatic Grill: Caprese sliders, Italian sausage topped with fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil and a balsamic aioli
Asado: A mini version of the restaurant’s Asado burger (the burger rated in my top 20 bar burgers in 2010). A ground sirloin and chorizo patty topped with onions, bell peppers, pan-fried provolone cheese and smoky poblano aioli
Bite Restaurant: Asian salmon slider on a brioche bun with pickled vegetables
Chambers Bay Grill: Braised pork belly, blood orange aioli, cilantro, and pickled radishes on a corn-style bun
HG Bistro: Smoked Boston pulled pork butt with an apricot, jalapeño and bacon jam and topped with honeycrisp apples, shaved cabbage, caramelized shallots and brie cheese on a grilled brioche bun.
Maxwell’s Speakeasy & Lounge: Top secret. They’re not sharing.
Social Bar and Grill: Barbecue brisket sliders
And now for my slider taste-off. I assembled my own self-directed slider competition and came up with sliders you can try anytime. The first three are on the regular menus at the restaurants that will compete in the slider cook-off; the remaining three are from restaurants that won’t compete.
Piroshky and Bacon-Cheddar Sliders
Where: HG Bistro, 1618 E. Main, Puyallup; 253-845-5747, hgbistro.com
HG Bistro has three sliders on its bar menu. A piroshky slider started with a Kobe/Wagyu patty topped with a dill-speckled cream cheese and stoneground mustard, dressed with crunchy greens. A bacon-cheddar slider was fatty and rich, leaving me glad for such a small portion. Both sliders were built on mini-pretzel buns – sturdy, yet soft. Priced at $5 for one with fries, discounted to $3 at happy hour. Additional sliders are $3.
BLT and Pulled Pork Sliders
Where: Maxwell’s Speakeasy & Lounge, 454 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma; 253-683-4115, maxwells-tacoma.com
Two sliders are on the bar menu at Maxwell’s. A BLT slider ($9) built on chewy rustic bread came with thick-cut smoky bacon, hefty tomatoes and a peppery layer of arugula; the crunchy sandwich softened some from a thin, but creamy, onion aioli. Fresh-cut fries on the side tasted soft, but not limp, with a feathery interior. Slow-cooked pork sliders ($11) on sweet rolls with a heavy hit of balsamic barbecue sauce were flavorful, but something tasted fishy in the accompanying soupy slaw. Fried chips on the side were crispy and perfect. During happy hour, sliders are discounted to half price – one of the best happy hour deals in town.
Slider trio – Italian, Meatball and Caprese
Where: Adriatic Grill, 4201 S. Steele St., Tacoma; 253-475-6000, adriaticgrill.com
You can order one of each of three flavors or three of the same sliders in the bar at Adriatic Grill ($8-$10 for the trio). All come on soft, fluffy buns. The sizeable meatball slider was topped with a brassy marinara, melted mozzarella and slippery, sweet red peppers. The Italian slider’s seasoned beef patty was topped with melted provolone, sweet onions, arugula and a garlicky aioli. The caprese was lighter by comparison – an Italian sausage patty topped with basil, fresh mozzarella, a slice of tomato and balsamic aioli.
THREE MORE TO TRY …
These restaurants won’t compete at the slider cook-off, but still serve sliders worthy of a try:
Ostrich and Duck Slider Combo
Where: Marrow, 2717 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; 253-267-5299, marrowtacoma.com. It’s 21 and older only.
Marrow serves a duo of ostrich and duck sliders ($16). The ground ostrich tasted acidic and sweet, topped with grilled onions and a raspberry mustard sauce. An unctuous ground duck patty came topped with crunchy frisee with a bitter bite that contrasted beautifully with a sweet swipe of pineapple-flavored demi. Both were served on glossy-topped buns. Fingerling potatoes on the side were snappy and fortified with interesting crunch: fried sage leaves and garbanzo beans. The ranch dressing on the side tasted homespun.
Duck Sausage Sliders
Where: Pacific Grill, 1502 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253-627-3535, pacificgrilltacoma.com
Pacific Grill’s duck sausage sliders ($6.48, see note) started with a split, grilled earthy duck sausage on a sweet, griddled Hawaiian roll. The two sliders held puckery-sweet contrast to the whole-grain mustard playing against fennel, sauteed onions and red peppers with the slightest touch of snap. House-made chips were crispy and salty with pure potato flavor.
Note: The sliders are discounted during happy hour, which now runs during operating hours in the bar.
Sixth Ave. Sliders
Where: Crown Bar, 2705 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; 253-272-4177, crownbartacoma.com
Mini-pretzel buns made sturdy bases for a quartet of sliders at Crown Bar ($13). Hot mustard and roasted red peppers added a spicy-sweet twang to the beefy little burger patties that came with fries. House fries at Crown are some of my favorite in town. Chef/owner Charlie McManus’ recipe calls for blanching the fries at 320 degrees until partially cooked, then they’re chilled, then finished in the fryer at 350 degrees, resulting in a sturdy exterior and a fluffy, light interior.
Shake, Rattle & Grill
Where: Museum of Glass, 1801 Dock St., Tacoma
When: 6:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday
What: A slider cook-off between seven Tacoma area restaurants
Cost: $40 at the door; must be 21 to attend. UPDATE 3/2: The event is close to selling out, call the museum for availability.
Information: 253-284-4750, museumofglass.org
The event: Guests can sample sliders and watch the chef cook-off in the hot shop. Daryl & The Diptones will perform. Beer will be provided by The Harmon. The event is inspired by “Gathering: John Miller and Friends,” an exhibition of 25 supersize Venetian goblets. The signature goblet features a cheeseburger in the stem.
Competitors: Adriatic Grill, Asado, Bite Restaurant, Chambers Bay Grill, HG Bistro, Maxwell’s Speakeasy & Lounge and Social Bar and Grill.
Our pledge to readers: Sue Kidd dines anonymously and all meals are paid for by The News Tribune. Reach her at: 253-597-8270 or firstname.lastname@example.org