Mike Parker’s made a career cooking in bars, but his food’s not the typical prefab pub grub.
The Tacoma cook with 16 years experience cooking at popular Tacoma bars now has his own place - and it’s a restaurant within a bar. On Thursday, he opened Parker’s at O’Malley’s on Sixth Avenue.
Parker’s the kind of cook who makes most everything he can from scratch - and has cooked at bars known for their menus. Parker formerly was kitchen manager at Top of Tacoma - the McKinley neighborhood bar that produces great sandwiches. In 2012, he moved to Eleven Eleven, the popular Hilltop hangout opened by Robby and Justin Peterson.
While at Eleven Eleven (also called Peterson Bros.), he served a pastrami Reuben I liked because of his housemade Russian dressing and how he griddled the meat and 'kraut before slapping it on the sandwich. His Cuban sandwich came with pork shoulder threaded with garlic cloves and slow-cooked overnight in a mojo sauce.
At his new restaurant, he’s got a new pub-focused menu with the same scratch assembly. He’s hand pickling carrots in cider vinegar for a spinach salad. He hand breads onion rings and cod filets. House-made potato chips come with a spice blend he jokingly calls “Sprink sprink.”
His opening menu lists four each of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers and entrees. Expect prices from $7-$12. A look at the menu, which should be posted on the Facebook page soon:
Sandwiches: He’ll stick with a Reuben, the sandwich that garnered him attention at Eleven Eleven, but serves it with a slightly tweaked (and spicier) Thousand Island style dressing and the sandwich comes on marble rye bread. He’ll serve the sandwich with pastrami, but will offer purists a choice of corned beef. A dip sandwich comes with corned beef braised in Guinness. There’s also a chicken melt and hand breaded cod sandwich made with a double dip of beer batter and panko.
Burgers: The pastrami burger is exactly as it sounds, just made on marble rye instead of a bun. The corned beef and hash “breakfast burger,” sounds to be a monster affair with a burger patty paired with another patty made from hand shredded corned beef and potato - with an over-easy fried egg topper. The Oklahoma burger - with caramelized onions embedded in the patty - will harken to the Depression-era onion burgers. He’ll also have a cheeseburger with aged white cheddar.
Entrees: Here’s where O’Malley’s Irish bar theme fits in. Parker will serve corned beef simmered in a Guinness braise with cabbage and colcannon. He’s created a hybrid Shepherd’s-Cottage pie with a beef base topped with parmesan mashed potatoes. He’s also got what he’s calling an Irish Meatloaf with a cabbage cream sauce and colcannon.
Parker’s at O’Malley’sWhere: 2403 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; 253-383-3144 or facebook.com/Parkers.at.omalleysServing: Lunch, dinner and late-night dining daily.Menu: Sandwiches, burgers and entrees, priced $7-$12