TNT Diner

Earthy and delicious, mushrooms land big on Tacoma restaurant menus

Yes, mushrooms love rain, but they also love herbs. They love spinach and bacon. They love gravy, especially when schnitzel is involved. They’re perfectly content being tucked into ravioli. You can slather them on steak, or skip the steak and dig into a grilled portobello instead.

You can even turn them into a mushroom demi-glace, if you’ve got a spare 50 pounds laying around (but more on that in a minute).

Mushrooms are one exceptionally earthy fall flavor I appreciate. And they’re prolific on Tacoma menus.

ADRIATIC GRILL

Info: 4201 S. Steele St., Tacoma; 253-475-6000 or adriaticgrill.com

Menu item: Creamy porcini mushroom soup, $5.50 cup/$10 bowl

The creamy porcini mushroom soup tasted so beefy, I wondered if the base was made from a beef demi-glace. No, it’s an all-vegetable soup, but you could call the soup base a mushroom demi-glace because Adriatic Grill chef and co-owner Bill Trudnowski cooks down 50 pounds of mushrooms to make two quarts of the mushroom reduction sauce that finishes the soup, along with a big splash of cream. The soup base is a melange of mushrooms that includes porcinis, criminis, buttons, shiitakes and dried morels. Key to the deep flavor is letting the soup refrigerate overnight before serving, something all home cooks should do, said Trudnowski, who operates Adriatic Grill near Tacoma Mall with his wife, Monique.

The creamy porcini soup has been on Adriatic Grill’s menu since its opening. “I’ve been threatened with bodily harm if I take it off,” said Trudnowski.

ARISTA

Info: 109 W. Pioneer Ave., Puyallup; 253-604-4288 or facebook.com/aristarestaurant

Menu item: Mushroom ravioli with thyme cream and roasted tomatoes, $13

The filling in Ben Herreid’s mushroom ravioli comes from a local source, Adam’s Mushrooms on the Key Peninsula. Herreid stuffs his handmade ravioli with oyster, shiitake, crimini and button mushrooms (all but the buttons come from Adam’s). Herreid finishes the entree with a thyme-flavored cream sauce fortified with a splash of chicken stock and a tangle of garlicky roasted tomatoes.

Arista, a new fresh pasta restaurant in downtown Puyallup, includes a half-dozen fresh pasta choices along with a few heartier entrees and salads on its menu. It’s the project of brother-sister duo Ben and Margaret Herreid.

BITE AT HOTEL MURANO

Info: 1320 Broadway Plaza, Tacoma; 253-591-4151 or hotelmuranotacoma.com/eat-drink/bite

Menu: Fries and gravy poutine, $8

Call it a Northwest spin on the classic Canadian fries-and-gravy dish, poutine. It takes four bottles of zinfandel wine to make the syrupy gravy on Matt Stickle’s poutine at Bite restaurant at Hotel Murano in downtown Tacoma. He finishes the gravy with sauteed crimini mushrooms and a hefty helping of garlic. What works magically with mushroom gravy? Gorgonzola cheese. Or, if you prefer something more like the squeaky cheese curds in the Canadian dish, opt for Beecher’s cheese curds. Stickle intentionally leaves the curds big so diners will be tempted to dip into the pool of sticky gravy with a beefy demi-glace backbone.

Here’s something to note: The restaurant recently began using shiitakes and chanterelles from Adam’s Mushrooms on other Bite menu items.

PACIFIC GRILL

Info: 1502 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253-627-3535 or pacificgrilltacoma.com

Menu item: Wild mushroom spread with housemade rice-sesame crackers, $8.95 appetizer or $5 at happy hour in the lounge

Pacific Grill chef de cuisine Jessica Armstrong-Sewell was kicking around the idea of a vegan spread, and mushrooms seemed the right timing for fall. Mixed into the loose-textured spread are truffle oil and smoked almonds, which expand the woodsy flavor of sauteed crimini, portobello, oyster and shiitake mushrooms. The spread is served with crisp housemade crackers that are vegan, but also gluten free because they’re made with rice flour, sesame seeds and “a secret umami ingredient.”

VIVA TACOMA

Info: 2602 N. Proctor St. Tacoma; 253-503-6498 or viva4life.com

Menu item: Mushroom “scallops,” $10.95

Calling them “scallops” seemed a playful nod to Viva Tacoma’s all-vegan menu (that means no animal products). Oyster mushroom stems are marinated, seared in coconut oil and served with a smear of nutty dill spread with a touch of sweetness from caramelized onions. Pretty plating on a wood plank is a signature move of Viva co-owner Francisco “Paco” Hernandez. The chef first cooked at AmeRAWcan Bistro before opening Viva Tacoma in September with restaurant newcomers Nancy Parkison and Rich Baker.

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