TNT Diner

Bivalves aplenty at Tacoma’s newest oyster bar

Oysters at 3uilt are shucked to order and served on ice.
Oysters at 3uilt are shucked to order and served on ice.

Head up Jefferson Avenue, pass the University of Washington Tacoma campus and stop when you get to the big warehouse freshly painted blue with the enormous numbers “2101” on the exterior (if you get lost given that marker, there’s no hope for you).

Inside, up two flights of stairs, is where you’ll find the oysters. Tacoma’s newest shucked-to-order bar, 3uilt, is a micro-restaurant inside another business. 7 Seas Brewery opened its Tacoma outpost Aug. 10 and the restaurant, pronounced Built, opened in the front left corner.

Here’s a first-bite look at 3uilt. It’s this newspaper’s policy to avoid criticism of food and service during a restaurant’s first month.

The concept: A counter restaurant with shucked-to-order oysters; also a high-end deli with shared plates, sandwiches, salads and nibbles — all intended to pair well with beer.

The owner: Jaime Kay Jones opened the McKinley neighborhood bar Top of Tacoma with husband Jason Jones in 2007. In 2011, they opened the upscale restaurant Marrow in Tacoma’s Sixth Avenue neighborhood. They sold that restaurant in 2014.

Ordering: Ask for what you want at the counter, then give your name and find a seat. But, wait. Stick around for your order because it’s tough to hear the counter workers all the way across the taproom.

Those oysters: Check the daily menu for what’s fresh, typically at least three oysters from Taylor Shellfish Farms. Here, they’re priced $3 each or $16 for a half dozen.

This week: Shigoku, Kusshi, Fat Bastard and kumamoto. They arrived jiggling in their brackish oyster liquor with whatever you want as a garnish.

Served with: Cider mignonette, hot sauce, lemon wedge, a caper-laden cocktail sauce or grated horseradish.

Shared plates: Three configurations from the “built to share” menu include a plate with pickles, nuts, crackers and mostardo ($8 small/$15 large); cheese-based plate with local cheeses, fruit, nuts, honey and crackers ($7/$13); the “sacred cut” plate with some of all of the above ($9/$16).

Suppliers: Local and Northwest companies, including Olympia Provisions, Bavarian Meats, Willapa Hills Cheese, Mt. Townsend Creamery and Macrina Bakery.

Sandwiches: Ten hot and cold, lots of unusual add-ins and original flavor combinations. A muffaletta was built with three cured meats, pickled veggies on grilled ciabatta ($5 half/$9 full); a dip with Carnegie pastrami came with Mt. Townsend Off Kilter cheese (Scotch ale washed toma cheese), mustard and ‘kraut and served with an au jus made with 7 Seas Broken Mast brown ale ($9); a mushroom melt with kale-almond pesto and black pepper truffle aioli was built with Mt. Townsend Trufflestack cheese ($9).

Salads: A changing deli case with fresh salads, $3-$5. Add a salad to a sandwich for $2.50.

For vegans/vegetarians: Salads, sandwiches, two snack platters, lots of choices.

The brew: I counted a dozen 7 Seas taps, as well as guest taps: Finnriver cider and Ghostfish gluten-free beer.

Atmosphere: Sprawling with plenty of standing room and seating for about 200 at long, natural edged wooden communal tables outfitted with bench seating, plus bar stool seating and a few couches. At capacity, it can be noisy in this building that once was part of the Heidelberg complex. The brewery operation is on display behind glass windows.

Beer in Gig? Yes, the 7 Seas taproom in Gig Harbor remains open.

What’s next? Later this year, another Tacoma business, Valhalla Coffee, will open a roastery at the brewery.

3uilt at 7 Seas Brewing Tacoma

Where: 2101 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma;

Hours: Serving lunch and dinner Wednesday-Sunday. The brewery is open daily.