I nudged my fork into the jiggly square of slow-roasted pork belly, with crispy edges and a tart sauce. Flanking the slice of meat was a tall metal cup filled with sweet potato fries. A ramekin held cooked-down baked beans, threaded with strands of meat. German red potato salad, served warm, was spiked with caraway. The three hush puppies — crispy, creamy and well seasoned — didn’t last long.
That is what dinner at Roasthouse by Arista looks like. The new Parkland restaurant that opened Oct. 24 features a simple menu: roasted meats and sides made from vegetables grown on the owner’s farm. The mix-and-match menu pairs a choice of roasted meats or vegan sausage with one ($9.99), two ($11.99) or three ($13.49) sides.
While the concept is designed to be simple, the flavor is anything but. From the caraway/mustard combination in the German potato salad to the southern-tinged snappy slaw, the food here gets its chef-inspired flavors from owner Ben Herreid.
This is Herreid’s second restaurant. He opened the handmade pasta restaurant Arista in downtown Puyallup two years ago. In 2015, he started a farm in the Puyallup valley with partner Drew Constant, who also operates Rolling Rocks Farm in Graham. The duo grew their 1-acre Clarks Creek farm to 6 acres last year and the farm now feeds, so to speak, all its produce to Herreid’s restaurants.
Here’s a first-bite report with a look at the Roasthouse’s opening menu and dining room.
It’s this newspaper’s policy to withhold criticism of a restaurant in its first month, which is why the focus here is on descriptions.
The dining room: Huge improvement from its former life as a Mexican restaurant. The two-level dining room is framed by oversize wood beams painted chocolate, the same color as the V-shaped ceiling lined with wood. Seating ranges from a dining bar built for single diners to larger family-size tables. Purposely mismatched tables and chairs are charming. Booths line exterior walls. The kitchen is partially on display behind the ordering counter near the door.
Ordering: The menu is listed on the chalkboard above the register. Order and pay at the counter, help yourself to your drink and silverware and find your own table.
Plating: Meats and sides were dished up on paper-lined metal trays. For those of you who don’t like your food to touch, you’ll appreciate the side dishes served in ramekins. No merging of potato salad with the baked beans — finally!
Meats: Fatty-edged brisket looked and tasted as if it had been a labor of love. The slow-roasted pork carried a satisfying jiggle. Also listed were herb-roasted chicken quarters; Roman-roasted pork shoulder; a burger made with Angus beef; and vegan apple and sage sausage.
Sides: Skins-on fries were liberally seasoned and crunchy. Roasted corn popped with sweetness. Snappy coleslaw with a creamy dressing carried Southern-tinged seasoning. Those hush puppies, with their creamy insides and crusty exterior, will be popular. Also listed on the sides menu were a quinoa salad with walnuts and currants; a mixed greens salad with lemon vinaigrette; mashed red potatoes; roasted seasonal vegetables; lemon-garlic green beans; and braised greens.
Beverages: Soda fountain drinks ($1.99), plus craft draft beer by the pint or pitcher ($5/$15); a selection of bottled beer and a house red by the glass or bottle ($5/$16) or a house white ($4.50/$15).
Menu notes: Expect meats and sides to change often. What’s described here might not be available on your visit. The restaurant's aim is to change the menu with the seasonal offerings of its Clarks Creek Farm.
Roasthouse by Arista
INfo: 14506 Pacific Ave. S., Tacoma; 253-535-6328; facebook.com/Roasthousebyarista.
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays.