Coming to downtown Tacoma is an intimate cocktail lounge with a familiar name behind it.
Chris Keil, who previously co-owned Marrow and Hilltop Kitchen, plans to open En Rama within the next month.
The lounge will be in downtown Tacoma at Courthouse Square — some might know it as the Old Post Office building — which has seen redevelopment in recent years with the opening of a second outpost of Infinite Soups and the coffee house Lift Bridge Coffee. The building features a ballroom and events space and holds the commercial kitchen of Tacoma’s Ice Cream Social.
En Rama will be within walking distance of Pacific Grill. A few blocks in the opposite direction is Pacific Avenue’s entertainment epicenter with Tacoma Cabana (the best cocktails in Tacoma outside of Keil’s concoctions), Matador, The Forum, Cafe Vincero, Meconi’s and The Office.
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En Rama will seat fewer than 25 and will be only for patrons 21 years and older, said Keil, who has worked on the project for about six months. The lounge will open at 4 p.m. on operating days.
The name of the restaurant borrows from a sherry term. En rama is a style of sherry that’s minimally filtered. It’s one of many sherry styles Keil intends to offer. He rattled off a glossary of sherry that is unchartered terrain in Tacoma restaurants and bars.
“We’re going to have, to start, a limited selection of various styles, all through the dry spectrum from fino to an oloroso and sweeter sherries like the Pedro Ximenez and moscatel. There will be a nice cross section for people to come in and explore that world,” said Keil.
He’ll offer a list of sherry pours by the glass. Beyond sipping, he’s crafting a cocktail list with sherry.
“I’m working on a cocktail list that features sherry in almost every drink,” he said. “Some is more sherry focused, and some of it is used as accent notes.”
He described a continuation of a few cocktail themes he started at his former Hilltop Kitchen, a restaurant and lounge he initially was going to reopen but has since decided not to. Keil described a number of tonics he made at Hilltop Kitchen that will find their way onto En Rama’s menu. They include a tonic with dandelion and burdock and another with lavender and chamomile that he’ll serve in a cocktail with pisco and sparkling rosé.
More broadly of the drink menu, he said, “We’re taking a culinary approach and pushing the envelope with some of the cocktails.”
As for food, Keil described handmade pasta and small plates built to pair with his cocktails. He plans to offer six extruded pastas. He also has plans for hand-cut pasta.
Prices will top out around $14 for the food, said Keil.
The L-shaped space features a handful of tables and a bar with seating for about six. There’s a soaring ceiling, broad windows with street views, and architectural details of wainscoting, wood and artifacts salvaged from other parts of the building, said Keil. He’ll have patio seating.
Where: 1102 A St., Tacoma; bit.ly/2nLYySZ. Opening in April.
Hours: Opening at 4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays.