A few years ago, good luck finding brunch in downtown Tacoma.
Now, there’s serious competition. Pacific Grill started the trend with its weekend breakfast service in 2016.
Add Wooden City to that weekend rotation.
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It started brunch service in November.
Much like the restaurant’s dinner menu, you’ll find classics that sound uncomplicated at first glance. Inspect the menu and chef flourishes appear.
The steak and eggs are made with Wagyu American beef. Hash is fueled by lamb ragu. The salmon on the Benedict is house-cured gravlax by chef Jon Green, an alumni of The French Laundry kitchen (yes, that French Laundry).
Green teamed up with longtime local and industry professional Abe Fox to open their first self-operated and owned restaurant in July. The two met while working in Seattle restaurants. Tacoma and its affordable rents and less congested dining market beckoned.
The duo transformed the former Wilder Local Fare + Libations space into a polished destination (that’s kid friendly until 8 p.m.) with a dining room anchored by a long cushy banquette in a beautiful shade of royal blue, drop lighting casting a moody glow by night and broad windows that flood the long, narrow space with light by day. It’s a sophisticated stop in a neighborhood filled with great eating and cocktailing.
Here’s a first look at the new brunch service.
The menu: Has already changed once, so items described here might already be gone.
The selection: A short menu of five breakfast entrees ($11 to $18) with four pizzas from the restaurant’s wood-fueled oven ($13 to $18) and five salads and sandwiches ($10 to $14).
Breakfast drinks: Six specialty cocktails, ranging from a boozy Irish coffee stoked with Jameson and cream ($10) and a bloody mary with a pop of chii salt on the rim and a tomato base fueled by horseradish with an impressive garnish tucked deep into the bar glass ($9). I gushed over the jammy Hotel Nacional with Plantation rum, pineapple, apricot and lime ($10). A sidecar ($10), peach aperol spritz ($9) and mimosa ($8) also are listed.
Coffee: It’s from Bluebeard, the Sixth Avenue coffee roaster. $3.
Good eating: Steak and eggs impressed with a sliced five-ounce American Wagyu steak offering a delicate, chewy resistance ($18). Breakfast potatoes were perfect fried cubes built to carry the smoky salsa roja straight into my mouth. Garlic toast and two fried eggs festooned with fresh parsley turned the plate into a big feast.
I dug into the best biscuits and gravy I’ve had in months ($12). Add a piece of fried chicken? And an egg? And for only five bucks? Don’t mind if I do. Two fluffy biscuits anchored the plate with a generous ladle of herbed, creamy gravy that was thick with sausage. The fried egg was perched on top of a crunchy jacketed and well-seasoned chicken thigh.
I admired the ruby jiggle of the house-cured salmon that Chef Green told me he infuses with beet powder to achieve that glistening red color during the gravlax-style cure. That salmon topped sturdy wedges of good bread and was finished with a velvety drape of lemon-heavy hollandaise. Breakfast potatoes were perfect for swiping up that leftover creamy sauce ($16).
French toast was more sturdy than soft and custardy with a big pour of real maple syrup and topped with a pecan crumble and fresh blueberries ($11).
Where: 714 Pacific Ave., Tacoma
Info: 253-503-0762 or woodencitytacoma.com
Brunch: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Kids: Allowed until 8 p.m.