TNT Diner

Lunch and brunch cafe Montamara Kitchen opens in Tacoma’s Old Town

Tacoma’s Old Town neighborhood has a new breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch cafe. Montamara Kitchen opened today in the former home of the Hawthorn Tea Room.

PJ Rutledge and Amie Budelmann are the business partners and chefs behind the 25-seat casual cafe, which will serve breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Friday and weekend brunch and lunch. Rutledge, who was born in Olympia and now lives in Puyallup, described by phone, a European style deli-cafe menu with Northwest and Mediterranean ingredients.

Rutledge and Budelmann wanted their new cafe to pay homage to Tacoma history. While perusing historical photographs, Rutledge’s husband stumbled on an old post card promoting a long defunct Tacoma arts festival. The Montamara Festo —Italian for Mountain-to-Sea Festival — was an early-20th century civic event held over Fourth of July weekend that featured fireworks, car racing and music.

A menu of bagels, granola, yogurt, a frittata and pastries will offer quick service breakfast. Lunch comes with table service and eight sandwiches. Rutledge, who hails from a three-generation restaurant family, identified the “bacon-weave BLT” as one must-order item. She and Budelmann created the sandwich out of a disdain for skimpy bacon sandwiches. “We weave the bacon and roast it in the oven, so it’s one big section of bacon. The reason we do that is when you get a BLT, it’s just two strips of bacon, but this is a whole weave of bacon.”

Also on the lunch menu are more a la carte sandwiches — pastrami on rye, a turkey sandwich with fig jam, a Cubano with turkey swapped out for the typical roasted pork, a grilled cheese and a grinder sandwich. There’s also charcuterie and cheese plates, and macaroni and cheese.

Rutledge described a weekend brunch with biscuits and gravy, a Benedict with Dungeness crab cakes, skillet egg dishes, Danish pancakes with fresh berries and waffles. Expect a price range from $7-$15.

The Hawthorn Tea Room closed in January. Cathy Russell, who had operated the high tea destination since 2007, has retired from the restaurant world and is now working a new career as a full-time grandma.