We’re right in the middle of National Breakfast Month, but don’t confuse that with National Hot Breakfast Month. You’ll have to wait until February to celebrate that. February, coincidentally, also doubles as National Pancake Month.
Who comes up with this stuff? I don’t need an official proclamation as an excuse to eat breakfast. The only excuse I need is the promise of something new.
Featured here are Tacoma restaurants with recently added breakfast service, each with its own specialty. These mini reviews are first-bite impressions after single visits.
[caption id="attachment_15892" align="aligncenter" width="480"] Pastrami hash, topped with over-easy eggs, at Smoke + Cedar in Tacoma.[/caption]
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SMOKE + CEDAR
2013 S. Cedar St., Tacoma; 253-343-6090 or smokeandcedar.com.
Breakfast: Served daily
Tacoma’s newest golf course restaurant opened at Allenmore in March and began offering breakfast a few months into business. Smoke + Cedar’s executive chef is Kristen Lyon, previously of the Bite at Hotel Murano. The restaurant is owned by Gordon Naccarato, who is a co-owner or partner in three Tacoma restaurants — Pacific Grill, Classics by Pacific Grill, and Shake Shake Shake.
Worth ordering: Smoked pastrami hash is worth the trip alone. Smoke + Cedar is the only Tacoma restaurant I can find making its own pastrami from scratch.
The pastrami begins with a week-long salt-sugar-spice brine, followed by a dry cure, followed by smoking, then steaming for a finish.
With that exquisite pastrami at the base, the pastrami hash ($11.95) intersected sweet, sour and smoky — those same flavors that make a Reuben sandwich so delicious. The hash was built on griddled potatoes (more on those in a moment) threaded with wedges of smoky pastrami and finished with a sweet-sour pile of honeyed red cabbage, a feathery-textured sausage gravy, and perfect over-easy eggs, as ordered.
Smoke + Cedar’s house-made fatty-edged prime rib still is among the best in Tacoma. Find it on the breakfast menu stuffed into an omelet ($12.95) with Vermont white cheddar cheese and smoked onions. On the side, find the outstanding house hashed browns, a textural treat and something of a love child of hash browns and O’Brien potatoes made with smoked onions, red bell peppers and three potatoes: Yukons, russets and skins-on reds. Naccarato said the dish as inspired by a family recipe: “My Italian Nana always added a little oregano, rosemary and Italian parsley, and some garlic to her potatoes, so I do too.”
Service was effortlessly cool, with staffers carrying the stride of career servers.
Note: Weekday and weekend brunch menus differ.
[caption id="attachment_15895" align="aligncenter" width="480"] Country fried steak at Engine House No. 9 in Tacoma.[/caption]
ENGINE HOUSE NO. 9Where:
611 N. Pine St., Tacoma; 253-272-3435 or ehouse9.com
Breakfast: Served weekends only.
This Tacoma brewpub founded in 1972 has seen a near-complete menu rehab since Tacoma’s X-Group Restaurants — also owners of nearby Asado and Masa — purchased it in 2011. X Group executive chef Joel Mertens is the architect of the menu, which is executed by E9 chef David Lewandowsky. Breakfast service began in July.
Worth ordering: Pastry chef Julia Brown’s yeasty masterpiece of a cinnamon roll ($4.99) weighs in at two pounds, according to Mertens, who said X Group co-owner John Xitco wanted a cinnamon roll “as big as your head” on the breakfast menu.
Lacy-edged sourdough pancakes ($9.99) tasted griddled in butter, the sourdough starter lending tang to thin cakes flanked by crispy bacon and two over-easy eggs, as ordered.
Ground American wagyu beef made the base of the outstanding country fried steak ($13.99), which had been hand-formed, coated in breadcrumbs and fried. The tender-textured ground steak was flanked by home fries blanketed in cheddar, and eggs cooked over easy, as ordered. The best part? The thin, cream-based country gravy — no bothersome flour pastiness here — tasted homespun with a thump of bacon fat.
A California eggs Benedict ($9.99) was built on squared-off house-made and airy-textured English muffins with plenty of nooks to soak up ribbons of yolk from perfectly poached eggs. Avocado and roasted tomatoes sharpened the flavor some, as did a lemony hollandaise, much lighter and frothier than most hollandaise sauces.
Service here came with a smile and appreciated menu explanations.
[caption id="attachment_15898" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The smoked meat trio breakfast at Warthog BBQ Pit in Parkland.[/caption]
WARTHOG BBQ PITWhere:
11811 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253-426-1980 or warthogbbq.com.
Breakfast: Served weekends only.
After 15 years at his Fife location, owner Gary Kurashima has duplicated his Warthog BBQ Pit in Parkland. The restaurant opened this summer in the former home of the Wagon Wheel near Pacific Lutheran University.
The barbecue restaurant specializing in house-smoked meats recently added weekend-only breakfast with tableside service.
Worth ordering: Brisket hash ($14.95), like most meals at Warthog, was more of a platter than a plate. Served topped with eggs over easy (as ordered), the hashed-up potatoes contained pieces of slow-smoked brisket ranging from succulent little threads to dried-out hunks.
Chicken fried steak ($13.95) was coated in a crunchy jacket; its smoke-tinged gravy had a texture a bit on the pasty side. Eggs over easy showed up perfect, other than being underseasoned, which wouldn’t have been a problem except for the malfunctioning salt grinder at the table (beware of those unwieldy things).
A smoked meat trio ($12.95) offered average maple sausage and bacon, but the smoked ham tasted straight off the smoker. Aside from spongy texture, that ham was as perfect as smoked-ham flavor gets. Crispy-edged hash browns and eggs over easy, as ordered, finished the platter.
Be patient with the serving staff, they appeared new to the business. They were friendly, but scattered.
Sue Kidd dines anonymously, and The News Tribune pays for all meals.