Following a chiropractic clinic and a dance studio, Herban Cafe is the newest thing blooming on the 2600 block of Tacoma's growing Sixth Avenue scene.
Steve and Gretchen Nogler sold their Garden Cafe in Sumner last year and started refurbishing the corner location that was the short-lived Ezell's fried chicken outlet. They've created a casual, comfortable neighborhood cafe that seats two dozen people.
Herban Cafe opened Saturday. I dropped in for two quick mid-week meals: a cup of creamy, herbaceous chowder with loads of clams and corn; crab cakes (crisp and browned outside, fluffy and moist inside) on a bed of greens with sweet corn relish and a dab of lime remoulade; an organic bison burger so lean I was glad I ordered cheese on it; the cafe's signature Herban chicken (think chicken mozzarella, not parmesan); and the roasted duck and spinach salad, featuring tender dark meat and maple-balsamic vinegar where it belonged -- on the side.
Appetizers (two crab cakes, a trio of tapas) are $8.75. Salads (Caesar to Cobb) are $7.75-$11.75. Sandwiches (Reuben, prime rib dip, ham and brie) are $10.75, with fries and a side dish. Burgers and entrees (pot pie, sweet potato ravioli, white bean-and-duck cassoulet are $11.75.
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Desserts are made in house. I couldn't resist moist and dense carrot cake, but I had one quibble: chop the pecans smaller next time.
Small but interesting lineup of red and white wines by the glass, and enough bottles under $30 so you won't get sticker shock.
Herban Cafe does Sunday brunch, with quiche and eggs Benedict augmenting the regular menu.
Herban Cafe: 2602 6th Ave., Tacoma; 253-572-0170. Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays.