Any golfer can tell you that the food at a public golf course can trend as basic as hot dogs or as hearty as prime rib.
At the newly opened Urban Elk Kitchen and Bar at Tacoma’s Allenmore Golf Course, the menu lists both.
When the restaurant’s opening was announced in June, owner Giuseppe Nappo promised a restaurant with “Home cooking, family style, familiar foods, all homemade, as we do in our other restaurants.” He also promised modest prices and casual fare that won’t reach too far into a high-end concept.
And it doesn’t. The food is quite approachable. It appears the restaurant is aiming for a few levels of diners: Golfers on the go who want something filling and inexpensive, and those who prefer to sit around, sip a cocktail and tear into a steak.
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A dozen sandwiches and burgers are listed, with several priced below what some mid-level pubs charge around Tacoma. A cheeseburger with fries is listed at $8.95, for instance.
Entrees stick with the basics: Ribeye and top sirloin steaks, grilled cod, fish and chips and several pasta dishes, with half of the entrees priced below $16.95.
Here are first-bite notes and background about the restaurant. It’s this newspaper’s policy to withhold criticism of food and service during a restaurant’s opening month.
The owners: Nappo’s other restaurants are the Cliff House in Northeast Tacoma, Verrazano’s in Federal Way and Al Lago in Lake Tapps, which he operates with daughter and son-in-law Bianca and George Filiss. They previously operated a restaurant for seven years at a golf course in Auburn, Copper Falls. They closed that restaurant in 2015.
Former occupant: Smoke + Cedar, from Tacoma’s Gordon Naccarato, owner of Pacific Grill, occupied the space from March 2014 to October 2015.
Owners: Elks Lodge No. 174 operates the clubhouse at the Allenmore Golf Course, which is open to the public. The restaurant also is open to the public.
Atmosphere: No interior decor or footprint changes were made to the restaurant designed by Seattle’s McVey Oakley Design Studio. Wildlife statues still stand at guard at the front entry. The cushy padded chairs are the same inside; the comfortable outdoor seating still spills along a large, L-shaped patio with the best views of the course. The L-shaped dining room percolates with color from the blocky red, orange, yellow, black carpet. The bar takes up a slice of the front dining room area.
Parking: Tight when the course is at capacity. A lower lot offers more parking, but also an uphill walk.
Appetizers: Far-flung with no cohesive theme. A trio of street tacos with a choice of meats ($8.95); nachos ($9.95); Manilla clams ($11.95); Buffalo chicken strips ($9.95); mozzarella sticks ($7.95); meatballs and marinara ($6.95); caprese salad ($10.95); Thai prawns ($10.95); blackened ahi ($12.95).
Burger menu: Five listed. They range from complicated to simple. An elk burger with Swiss and American cheeses, arugula, roasted red peppers and a garlic aioli, with fries ($16.95) is listed right alongside a basic burger with American cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato, special sauce, with fries, at a bargain price of $8.95.
Sandwiches: A hot dog dressed with bacon, cream cheese and caramelized onions, with fries ($7.95); a pulled pork sandwich on brioche with fries ($9.95); house-braised corned beef Reuben ($11.95) a club ($12.95); a French dip ($10.95) and Philly ($11.95).
Entrees: Two steaks, two fish and four Italian dishes. A broiled 12-ounce ribeye with potatoes and vegetables ($23.95); an 8-ounce top sirloin ($19.95); fish and chips ($12.95) and herbed cod ($18.95); fettuccini alfredo ($9.95); rigatoni and meatballs with marinara ($12.95); rigatoni with prawns and sausage in a spicy tomato cream sauce ($12.95) and chicken parmigiana ($16.95).
Prime rib: Served Saturdays only. Other theme specials include Mexican on Tuesday and Italian on Wednesday.
Breakfast: Chicken fried steak ($12.95); biscuits and gravy ($9.95); eggs Benedict ($12.95); corned beef hash ($11.95); bagel and lox with the works ($10.95); Belgian waffles ($9.95) and four omelette choices ($7.95-$13.95).
Cocktails: A showing of straightforward middle-range spirits, such as Captain Morgan’s Rum, vanilla and raspberry vodka; but also a showing of better quality spirits, such as Woodford Reserve and Aperol. One spendy $30 cocktail, the Distinguished Elk, lists a whiskey bonanza of ingredients: Buffalo Trace, Crown XO and Makers 46.
Wine/beer: No beer list offered. Wine included eight whites by the bottle ($18.25-$39.75), 11 reds by the bottle ($19.50-$73), 11 reds and whites by the glass ($5.50-$9), six by the carafe ($24-$34), and white or red sangria ($5 glass/$18 carafe).
Where: 2013 S. Cedar St., Tacoma; 253-272-1117; urbanelktacoma.com.
Hours: Breakfast, lunch and dinner served daily. 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. Happy hour is daily 3-6 p.m.
Membership required? The course and restaurant are open to the public with no membership required.