Yes, it’s open to the public.
And, yes, it’s open.
Urban Elk reopened Monday following a four-month closure after its previous operator departed.
This time, the Elks Lodge No. 174, owners of the building and golf course, will operate the restaurant instead of relying on an outside restaurateur.
As was promised by Chris Barnes, secretary trustee of the lodge’s board of directors, the revamped restaurant offers a full bar, an affordable menu with at least a dozen items under $10 and sweeping views of Allenmore Golf Course.
Here’s a first-bite look. It’s this paper’s policy to avoid criticism of food and service in a restaurant’s first month.
Open to all? Yes. The restaurant and bar are open to the public, as is the golf course. For the near future, the restaurant will operate from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., but hours might change after that. Happy hour also is in the works and they’re discussing breakfast service.
Concept: Affordable, simple pub fare in a large, attractive dining room outfitted with generally the same decor as the previous two restaurants. The same blocky, colorful carpet from when Tacoma restaurateur Gordon Naccarato operated Smoke + Cedar is still there.
Urban Elk’s most recent operators, Giuseppe Nappo and George and Bianca Filiss of Al Lago and The Cliff House simplified the menu.
The new menu is even simpler.
More on decor: Well-placed lighting, the same cozy fireplace in the corner, a mix of high-top stool seating and tables with comfy chairs in the L-shaped dining room. The private seating area in the back is also unchanged. When the weather warms, there’s a large patio overlooking the course.
Managing the show: Ryan Walton is a veteran in restaurants from Tacoma to Texas. Around here, locals will know him from The Spar in Old Town and Cole’s Bar and Grill in Ruston.
Menu: Nothing is priced over $15.95, and sandwiches hardly go above $10. The food comes with a no-frills approach to sandwiches, burgers, a robust appetizer menu and an entree list that includes pasta, chops and seafood. Although prices are low, I spotted a few premium ingredients, such as Daly’s bacon on the cheeseburger.
Menu details: Seven appetizers ($7.95 to $10.95), including wings ($9.95), hummus ($7.95) and sliders ($8.95). Three salads ($7.95 to $10.95). House-made soups ($3.50 to $5.50) with clam chowder on Fridays and chili everyday. Six burgers ($9.95 to $11.95) ranging from a bacon cheeseburger ($11.95) to a veggie burger ($9.95), mushroom Swiss ($9.95), grilled chicken ($11.95) or fried cod ($9.95). Seafood includes fish and chips ($11.95), fish tacos ($11.95) and prawns ($12.95).
Bargains: Look to the sandwich menu: A reuben ($9.95), deli ($8.95), BLT ($8.95), a fancy hot dog with cream cheese ($7.95) and a Philly ($10.95), all with fries or chips. The pizza menu offers a pie that starts at $8.95 with a surcharge of $1 to $2 for extra toppings.
Get the: Drippy, delicious five-napkin bacon cheeseburger that I have absolutely no complaints about ($11.95). A sturdy bun held a juicy, fat Angus beef patty that looked as if it had made excellent contact with a flat-top grill. Leaf lettuce, tomatoes and red onions were piled on top. Cheddar cheese and bacon spilled down the patty onto the bottom bun. Were those mustard seeds I tasted in the terrific burger sauce swiped across the toasted bun? Whatever they put in there, it’s delicious. Fries were skins-on and crunchy. Served with a side of ketchup.
For lighter eaters, fish tacos were a popular choice at the last version of Urban Elk. On the new menu, they showed up as mahi-mahi, grilled, with a twist of lemon, and served with a crunchy, fresh mango salsa in three tortillas ($11.95).
Drinks: Full cocktail bar, 12 beer taps (and more in bottle or can), plus wine.
Plates: Another restaurant serving food on paper-lined metal trays. I miss plates.
Where: 2013 S. Cedar St., Tacoma; 253-272-1117