TNT Diner

Rise and shine: New brunch service at four bars in Tacoma

Duck sausage Benedict at Point Defiance Tap & Grill.
Duck sausage Benedict at Point Defiance Tap & Grill. phaley@thenewstribune.com

I was just complaining this summer that there weren’t enough Tacoma restaurants serving brunch.

That was then.

Now? You’ve got four new(ish) weekend breakfast destinations.

But there’s a catch. With one exception, they’re bars or places that allow only adults.

POINT DEFIANCE TAP AND GRILL

Info: 5101 N. Pearl St., Ruston; 253-426-1593; pointdefiancetapandgrill.com.

Brunch served: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays.

Note: Kids allowed.

This restaurant and taproom opened just over a year ago near Point Defiance Park. It’s the project of Donn Frostad and Bill Bonnie, the owner of Tacoma Wine Merchants and the Enoteca cafe.

It’s the kind of place that’s safe to take kids, although it is a taproom. And speaking of the taps, be sure to check out the beer list featuring mostly South Sound brewers.

Background: Brunch started in September. Bonnie is the chef.

Menu highlights: French toast with caramel sauce ($12), salmon cake Benedict ($14) and goat cheese frittata ($12).

Get the: Duck sausage Benedict ($16) made with lean duck sausage (the duck comes from Tacoma’s Calendula farms), which carried a soft, peppery heat. Butter-heavy, hollandaise-blanketed poached eggs oozed golden yolks all over the toasted muffins. Served with fried potato wedges.

Roast beef hash ($14) combined fried potatoes with diced roast beef and onions, topped with delicious cholesterol overkill: three over-easy eggs. Grilled bread was made in-house and tasted like it. A side of ketchup was a nice surprise; it also was housemade.

Breakfast booze: Beer.

Coffee: Tacoma roaster Valhalla.

MARROW

Info: 2717 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; 253-267-5299; marrowtacoma.com.

Brunch served: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays.

Note: 21 and older only.

Calling Marrow a bar is a misnomer because it’s one of the higher-end restaurants on Sixth Avenue, but it is classified as a 21-and-older only establishment.

Find an elevated menu of breakfast fare. Of all the restaurants reviewed for this story, Marrow’s presentation was sharpest.

In the kitchen is co-owner Matthew Schweitzer, who owns the restaurant with Chris Keil. They also own Hilltop Kitchen, which is closing Saturday, and is in search of a new home.

Background: Marrow had a successful brunch run under its previous owners, but was discontinued in 2014. They relaunched Sunday brunch two months ago and plan to expand to Saturday.

Menu highlights: Bacon grits with Calabrian peppers and poached egg ($15), curried pork hash ($15), cannoli waffles with whipped cinnamon mascarpone ($14), baked eggs with mushroom ragu ($14).

Get the: Crab Benedict ($16), with a heaping mound of Dungeness claw meat (the largest helping I’ve seen on a Benedict). Two superbly poached eggs (from a Puyallup farm) were tumbled onto the plate. Both spilled rivers of yolk across a swipe of buttery hollandaise, flanked by salty fried leeks. Housemade English muffins are now available as a base — but, if offered, get the crispy-creamy cakes made with carnaroli rice.

Sweet crepes ($13) were folded-over, lacy-textured creations filled with lemon curd and jammy huckleberries, with toasted hazelnuts and a dreamy pile of caramelized, soft meringue.

Order a side of toast ($2) for the sheer decadence of bread fried in clarified butter.

After it’s fried, it’s pulled out to rest, Schweitzer said. “While it’s resting, we let the butter get caramely and brown, then we drop the toast back into the pan to get it basted.” It’s the best toast in Tacoma.

Breakfast booze: Newly added cocktails include blood orange mimosas, white sangria, a horseradish bloody mary, a pomegranate mule and a breakfast old fashioned with brown butter.

Coffee: Tacoma roaster Bluebeard.

THE RED HOT

Info: 2914 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; 253-779-0229; redhottacoma.com.

Brunch served: 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays-Sundays.

Note: 21 and older only.

Don’t call it brunch at The Red Hot, a tavern on Sixth Avenue. It’s called Beer Breakfast.

That’s pretty apt for a craft beer emporium with a three-chalkboard tap list and a menu of excellent hot dogs and house-made sausages.

The tavern, co-owned by brothers Chris and Stu Miller, moved last year to a larger space that allowed for a menu expansion, including breakfast service and house-made sausages.

Background: Sunday breakfast started last year, but the tavern expanded to Saturdays in September. Aristotelis “Telly” Christanis and Joel Milasich are the breakfast chefs (both cooked breakfast at Marrow under its previous ownership).

Menu highlights: Croissant French toast with nutella ($7.75); vegan tofu hash ($7.75); a sausage, bacon, ham, egg and bacon mayo sandwich ($10); croque madame ($7.25).

Get the: Biscuits and gravy ($8.50) with creamy, sausage-laden gravy spilling over two split biscuits plus two fat maple-cheddar sausage links, which oozed cheddar and were light on maple sweetness (and easily cut with the nudge of a fork). The artery-clogging combination got further reinforcement with a fried egg topper.

Sausage hash ($8.75) combined luscious crumbled pork sausage with wedged, well-seasoned red potatoes and fried onions, mushrooms and bell peppers. The ensemble was served with a fried egg and thick-cut sourdough toast with a syrupy marionberry jam.

Breakfast booze: Stiegl grapefruit radler ($4.50), DIY red beer (beer of choice, plus $1 for tomato juice), La fin du monde with orange and pineapple juice and grenadine ($5).

Coffee: Valhalla drip or Portland’s Stumptown cold brew.

THE VALLEY

Info: 1206 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma; 253-248-4265; thevalleytacoma.com.

Brunch served: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays.

Note: 21 and older only.

If Tacoma had tavern royalty, the owners of The Valley would be it. It was opened in August 2014 by Rob and Justin Peterson, the twins behind the Hilltop neighborhood’s Eleven Eleven bar (and sons of one of the co-owners of The Swiss Restaurant & Pub). The other half of the ownership is X Group Restaurants, the company that owns Asado, Masa (soon to be The Pine Room events center), Engine House No. 9, Choripan by Asado and Mobile Food Command Center.

Background: Weekend breakfast service began in August with Mike Parker, formerly of Eleven Eleven, heading up the kitchen.

Menu highlights: Shrimp and grits ($11.25), veggie scramble ($9.95), andouille sausage verde sandwich ($9.95), southwestern Monte Cristo ($9.75), pulled pork chilaquiles ($8.75) and two kinds of cakes ($7.25-$8.75).

Get the: Pork belly biscuits and gravy ($11.25), with rolled biscuits, toasted and split, covered by a river of creamy gravy that held a porky surprise: cubed, terrifically supple pork belly in lieu of the standard crumbled sausage. You’ll hurt yourself if you try to finish.

For a lighter take, get the crab Benedict ($13.50), with two poached eggs that spilled yolks down crab discs that were brimming with Cajun spicing and lots of crab (and no filler), plus split biscuits. A creamy hollandaise was more lemony than buttery. Breakfasts were accompanied by a side of cubed house potatoes, well-grilled, with peppers and onions.

Breakfast booze: Bloody mary made with Ghost Dog whiskey from University Place’s Chamber Bay Distillery ($7.75), mimosa and paloma ($5.50-$6).

Coffee: Sumner roaster Dillanos.

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