TNT Diner

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

First bite: Whitehouse Restaurant and Lounge in Bonney Lake

Post by Sue Kidd / The News Tribune on April 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm | No Comments »
April 18, 2013 1:02 pm

What kind of diner you are will determine whether you’ll embrace the newly opened Whitehouse Restaurant and Lounge in Bonney Lake.

Appreciate steakhouses that list a half dozen cuts? Fan of big, messy burgers? Have a hankering for pub fare? Whitehouse should be on your to-dine list.

Want something more unusual or more upscale than what Bonney Lake already offers? Looking for a date-night destination? You’ll need to keep looking.

While casual-leaning Whitehouse fills a restaurant void that stretches across East Pierce, the pub-style menu and come-as-you-are vibe feels similar to nearby Midtown Grill and Hop Jack’s. Those something-for-everyone restaurants carry menus comparable to the Whitehouse, which lists burgers, steaks, sandwiches, a handful of pastas and pub-style eats, such as fish and chips (see menus below).

Similarities with the competition aside, Whitehouse seems to be doing fine for a fledgling restaurant, and it’s reassuring to see another family-friendly place in that neighborhood. Whitehouse operates in a space that was vacant for far too long after Andre’s Bar and Grill closed more than a year ago.

A visit during its first month found the restaurant mostly on task, although the usual deficiencies surfaced that plague new restaurants. Food temperatures were a bit off, some dishes needed better seasoning, a few awkward pauses between courses and the kitchen ran out of a handful of entrees. Yet glimmers of a restaurant with its affairs in order also surfaced. Drinking glasses were never empty. Servers were prompt and attentive. And I’ll give them extra points for being friendly, too.

What Bonney Lake might really appreciate is a steak that’s well tended by the kitchen. Criss-cross char-grill marks on a steak are a sign of a decent grillmaster. Whitehouse didn’t disappoint with its filet mignon ($21.99) — the char and seasoning were just right and the steak was cooked precisely to the requested medium rare. I just wish the sides had been executed with equal precision. Lukewarm mashed potatoes and squeaky green beans underwhelmed me, but the addition of garlic and herbs to potatoes and smoky bacon to green beans were signals the kitchen is aiming in the right direction, even if it’s not quite there yet.

The plating on all entrees beats the competition — the plates looked as if they had been tended by a culinary school graduate. That’s because they were. Chef-owner Tim Whitehouse is a recent graduate of Renton Technical College. This is a second restaurant for Whitehouse, who also owns Lumberjack’s in Buckley. His mother, Charlotte Yearwood, who has worked at local restaurants for years and used to run an espresso stand in Sumner, works with Whitehouse. Diners familiar with Lumberjack’s will recognize the menu at Whitehouse.

My advice: If you visit soon, be patient with the restaurant. It looks every bit its three-week-old age. The dining room is sparsely outfitted, yet comfortable. Adding wall hangings would do a lot to warm up the interior. Owner Whitehouse said unexpected permit costs sidelined his decorating budget, but expect the decor to receive attention soon. The front entry is much improved from its former life as Andre’s. Gone are the awkward booths in the entry, replaced by a waiting area. That waiting area is flanked by a bar to one side and companion dining rooms to the other. The seating is good for groups and children.

Tip: Bargain hunters will like the wallet-friendly pricing with sandwiches in the $9-$10 range and $14-$23 for much heartier entrees and steaks.

The Whitehouse Restaurant and Lounge
Where: 9801 219th Ave. Place E., Bonney Lake; 253-862-4436
Hours: Serving lunch and dinner daily, breakfast on weekends

Sue Kidd dines anonymously and The News Tribune pays for all meals. Reach her at 253-597-8270 or sue.kidd@thenewstribune.com.

SANDWICHES/LUNCH:

Whitehouse sandwiches 2

SANDWICHES/LUNCH:

Whitehouse sandwiches

SALADS:

Whitehouse salad menu

BURGERS:

Whitehouse burger menu 2

BURGERS:

Whitehouse burger menu

STEAKS AND GRILL ITEMS:

Whitehouse steak menu

*
The News Tribune now uses Facebook commenting on selected blogs. See editor's column for more details. Commenters are expected to abide by terms of service for Facebook as well as commenting rules for thenewstribune.com. Report violators to webmaster@thenewstribune.com.