First bite: Bourbon Street Bar and Grill in downtown Puyallup

Staff writerJanuary 31, 2014 

Mike de Alwis, center, and his son, Jehan, mix a drink while chatting with a customer at Bourbon Street Bar and Grill in downtown Puyallup.

LUI KIT WONG — Staff photographer

It’s been some time since this region had a Cajun restaurant, which made the opening of Bourbon Street Bar and Grill that much more anticipated.

The New Orleans-themed restaurant that opened in mid-December is a small destination that’s more bar than restaurant in downtown Puyallup.

Two first-bite visits in the inaugural month showed a restaurant trying hard to do the right thing – mostly succeeding at food, excelling at atmosphere, but struggling at service.

The menu reads like the greatest hits of bayou dining: jambalaya, gumbo, blackened seafood, po’ boy sandwiches and seafood boil on a menu that has morphed during the first month of operation. It’s also quite well priced, with the bulk of the menu in the $12-$16 range.

Owner Mike de Alwis – who operates the restaurant with his son Jehan, a culinary school student – has created a visually interesting atmosphere that breathes easy with New Orleans charm.

Wrought iron accents inside and out add structure to a bisected restaurant converted from a gas station. Seating is where things might get tricky for diners in Puyallup, a city known for family dining. The restaurant is broken into two seating areas. One is open for diners of all ages, but it’s a space that has few tables, most of which were high tops. I suspect families with kids needing high chairs will have trouble (de Alwis is fixing that). Most of the restaurant’s seating is in the bar. There’s hope for the al fresco season: A large patio is outside.

In one dining room, wood-clad walls provide warmth against a glossy, mottled ceiling. In the other room, dark rust and brown tones contrast sharply with sunny walls.

The noise level in the all-ages dining room wasn’t as troubling as I expected, but I’m willing to bet the bar becomes roaring loud at full capacity. Tall ceilings and hard surfaces usually don’t create quiet ambiance.


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