TNT Diner

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

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Archives: Dec. 2013

Dec.
31st

New Year’s Eve toast: Checking in with Brian Johnson of Better Cocktails at Home

Pictured here, Brian and Brooke Johnson on Tacoma. They produce a web show called Better Cocktails At Home. Photo courtesy of the Johnsons.
Pictured here, Brian and Brooke Johnson on Tacoma. They produce a web show called Better Cocktails At Home. Photo courtesy of the Johnsons.

Followers of my occasional cocktail features will remember Brian Johnson, the gritty Tacoman who works in marketing by day and hosts his own cocktail show via the web by night (literally -they film the episodes at night after their 3-year-old is put to bed).

I checked in with Johnson on what he’s drinking for New Year’s Eve and what he’d recommend for those hosting a party. Find more of his cocktail advice at his YouTube channel, Better Cocktails At Home. Read more »

Dec.
30th

New Year’s Eve toast: Kris Blondin weighs in on how to open a champagne bottle with a sword

Stink Meat and Cheese owner Kris Blondin uses a big knife playfully attempts to open a champagne bottle. Do not try this at home.  Lui Kit Wong/Staff Photographer
Stink Meat and Cheese owner Kris Blondin uses a big knife playfully attempts to open a champagne bottle. Do not try this at home. You’ll put an eye out. Lui Kit Wong/Staff Photographer

Naming a business with a cheeky single word – in all caps – should allude to a proprietor’s penchant for mirth, but when a store name nods to the famed “Tacoma aroma,” you know the owner has got to have a great sense of humor – or smell.

Meet Kris Blondin, a Tacoman and owner of STINK Cheese-Meat, a multi-purpose St. Helens neighborhood business that specializes in gourmet meats, cheeses, freshly prepared cafe eats and is adjacent to Blondin’s sister business, a wine bar called STINK Tank.

If her name sounds familiar to restaurant watchers, that could be because Blondin was the oenophile behind Vin Grotto, a popular downtown Tacoma wine destination that shuttered in 2007.

For someone who swore she’d never own a food business again, it’s a head scratcher how Blondin wound up doing exactly that when she opened STINK in 2011. In Blondin’s characteristic hilarious words – working in the food business is like constantly scratching a scab. You know you shouldn’t, but you just can’t help yourself.

With New Year’s Eve in quick approach and because her specialty is advising locals on wine, we asked Blondin to employ her special brand of humor and wine expertise on how to pull off a successful champagne or sparkling wine toast. Her answers were given via email. Read more »

Dec.
27th

Year in review – the best things I ate in 2013, and looking ahead to 2014

Shake Shake Shake, a restaurant in the Stadium District, has classic diner ambiance. I'm giving it an extra nod for high style. It was one of my favorite restaurant openings in 2013. Peter Haley/Staff photographer
Shake Shake Shake, a restaurant in the Stadium District, has classic diner ambiance. I’m giving it an extra nod for high style. It was one of my favorite restaurant openings in 2013. Peter Haley/Staff photographer

Some people judge a year based on health or wealth. I judge mine based on how well I feasted.

In this column, take a tour of the best things I stuffed down my gullet in 2013. I’ve also got a recap of the neatest restaurant openings of 2013, and a look ahead to cool things coming in 2014.
(Note: Some menu prices and items might have changed during the year.) Read more »

Dec.
26th

First bite: Bourbon Street Bar and Grill in downtown Puyallup

It’s been some time since this region had a Cajun restaurant – which makes the opening of Bourbon Street Bar and Grill even more sweet. The New Orleans themed restaurant is a tiny destination that’s more bar than restaurant in downtown Puyallup. It opened Dec. 16.

A first-bite visit in the inaugural week showed a restaurant that was trying hard to do the right thing. The food was decent, the service was friendly despite being painfully slow – I suspect this restaurant will be a hit with local diners, but only time and your dining dollars will tell.

What I liked most about the restaurant was the New Orleans inspired menu that read like the greatest hits of Bayou dining – jambalaya, gumbo, blackened seafood, po’ boy sandwiches. They were all there. Read more »

Dec.
23rd

Restaurant openings: Sushi and Peruvian food in Gig Harbor, Bourbon Street Bar and Grill in Puyallup

The nigiri and maki lunch special at Domo Sushi.
The nigiri and maki lunch special at Domo Sushi.

Three new eateries have opened around the South Sound. Domo Sushi in Gig Harbor is now serving an extensive menu of Japanese sushi and specialties, but also delves into Korean and Chinese dishes. The casual eatery Taste of Peru also has opened in Gig Harbor. In Puyallup, the New Orleans themed Bourbon Street Bar and Grill opened last week. Check back for a first-bite report of Bourbon Street Bar and Grill later this week. Read more about all three restaurants and check out the menus below. Read more »

Dec.
20th

Sweet finds: Cookies from 7 South Sound bakeries

Corina Bakery: Gingerbread men, gluten-free cookies and seasonal cookie bars are available in the bakery case at Tacoma's Corina Bakery.
Corina Bakery: Gingerbread men, gluten-free cookies and seasonal cookie bars are available in the bakery case at Tacoma’s Corina Bakery.

You know you hate baking when you resort to trickery to pass store-bought cookies off as your own.

I read a post on a food blog that suggested skillet cooking grocery store cookies to make them appear more “buttery.” It also suggested applying canned frosting asymmetrically to give the illusion of a real home-baked cookie.

Wouldn’t it be easier just to bake the cookies?

Well, for some bake-o-phobes, I guess that answer would be a big, fat no.

To those people, this article is for you.

Skip the skillets and icing tricks, and buy your cookies from a local baker. Read more »

Dec.
19th

Thirsty Thursday find: Heritage Distilling Company’s apple-cinnamon flavored whiskey

Heritage Distilling Co. in Gig Harbor has a tasting room worth visiting. Visitors can buy direct from the distillery. Several bars around town use Heritage spirits in specialty cocktails. File photo 2012.
Heritage Distilling Co. in Gig Harbor has a tasting room worth visiting. Visitors can buy direct from the distillery. Several bars around town use Heritage spirits in specialty cocktails. File photo 2012.

I knew apple pie moonshine had gone mainstream when I heard a friend was using a Crock pot to make hers. The recipe sounded pretty simple. Apple cider and cinnamon steeped together in a slow cooker all day, then that mixture was steeped with moonshine before serving.

OK, I’ll take a glass of that.

Don’t let the word “moonshine” throw you. You won’t have to rig up a basement bootleg operation to make the moonshine (home distilling is still very illegal, by the way). Steeping any commercially produced spirit with your favorite combination of apples and spices can produce a tasty apple pie moonshine that can be used as a cocktail ingredient, a flavoring agent for dessert or simply enjoyed straight out of the freezer.

I’m aware not everyone wants to flavor their own booze, so here’s where local distillers come in. Read more »

Dec.
17th

Puyallup dining news: Ayothaya duplicating itself, sushi restaurant on the way

Fans of Ayothaya will have another outpost to visit in the Puyallup area. The South Hill Thai restaurant intends to duplicate itself in the Canyon Crossing Center in Frederickson. The restaurant expects an opening sometime in the spring of 2014.

Ayothaya has operated for more than a decade in South Hill. Read more »