Monthly Archives: July 2013

Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date: Pacific Grill and Old Milwaukee Cafe

Chad and Pat, owners of the Old Milwaukee Cafe

Chad and Pat, owners of the Old Milwaukee Cafe

For the third installment of Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date, Mimi and I had decided to go to the Pacific Grill. I had heard they had a new menu and I wanted to go someplace nice. Not to mention, I’d been meaning to go to dinner at Pacific Grill ever since owner and chef, Gordon Naccarato was kind enough to join me for 5 Question Friday last year.

We arrived Friday night without a reservation and sat at the bar until there was a table ready for us. We looked over the menu which included many small plates that were intended to be shared family style. Mimi and I talked about how to work this into the rules of ‘Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date’ which are that we order the two cheapest entrees on the menu. And then something happened.

“I don’t care what we do next,” Mimi said, “but no matter what I’m ordering the Soy Whiskey Whiskey Chicken.”

This was not the cheapest thing on the menu but at $8.95 it was also not the most expensive.  The description said “chicken thighs marinated in soy, garlic, bourbon + ginger w/ smoky sweet potato salad.“  I entirely understood why Mimi wanted it.  However, since rules are rules, it was clear that we were no longer on a ‘Cheap Date’. And so I ordered a full plate of ‘Stan the Man’s Killer Clam Linguine’ for $24.

Mimi’s chicken was tender and juicy, but the real treat was the smoked potato salad. The clams in my clam linguine were crazy good and the full plate was indeed full. Luckily I had a big appetite. Later, Gordon stopped by our table and we finally met face to face. He told us how the dish I was eating was named for his father, Stan Naccarato who used to make that dish all the time when Gordon was younger.

Mimi and I had a great dinner at a great place, but we still had a column to write. We were too full of good food to go somewhere else. So Saturday morning we decided we’d fix this problem by having ‘Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Breakfast’.

And so we went to Tacoma’s Old Milwaukee Café on 6th Ave. Mimi had been telling me about this place for weeks and I’d never been there. Located at 3102 S. 6th Ave., the Old Milwaukee has been a local favorite for fourteen years. It’s run by a couple named Pat and Chad. She waits tables. He cooks. There are eight tables and the whole place probably couldn’t fit more than twenty people in it comfortably.

When we arrived around 9am on Saturday morning, all of the tables were taken and there were a couple of people already waiting. We needed a table for three as Mimi’s mother had chosen to join us for breakfast. While there was no list, Pat made it clear that we were to sit when and where she wanted us to sit. As she put it, “I’ve got you handled.”  We were seated after 15 minutes.

Mimi ordered two eggs sunny side up along with home fries and English muffins for $6.99. I ordered thick sliced bacon and scrambled eggs with hash browns and English muffins for $8.99. We also had coffee.

The atmosphere in the place was friendly though I noticed a few parties arrive and leave as they saw that the entire place was packed. Unfortunately Mimi had to work at ten and ended up leaving before our food had arrived. We let the waitress know that while Mimi was leaving, we’d still be bringing the food to her.

My bacon and eggs arrived. The first thing I noticed was that they weren’t kidding about the thick sliced bacon. It was good, thick, and tasty. The hash browns were just that right balance of crunchy but not burned.

When it came time to go, our waitress had the cook freshly make Mimi’s eggs. I asked Mimi later what she thought of the food to go. She said, “I liked it. It’s also the simplest thing I’ve eaten there.”

So there you have it. Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date didn’t go exactly as planned, but I think in this case that was mostly a good thing.

–          Jack Cameron

Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date by the numbers:

Pacific Grill
Address: 1502 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, WA 98402
Soy Whiskey Chicken: $8.95
Stan The Man’s Killer Clam Linguine: $24

Old Milwaukee Cafe
3102 6th Ave., Tacoma, WA 98406
Two Eggs: $6.99
Thick Sliced Bacon and Eggs: $8.99

*Note: Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date does not include drinks, tax, or tip. I’m a bit of a drink snob, tips are very subjective, and sales tax is 9.5% for those who need exact numbers.

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5 Question Friday With Tacoma Alcohol Consortium’s Todd Buckley

ToddI first met Todd Buckley a few weeks ago when he organized a tour of Tacoma Brewing Company. He was a gracious and enthusiastic host with plenty of knowledge and passion for alcohol. Up until then, I’d never heard of the Tacoma Alcohol Consortium. By the end of the tour I decided that everyone in Tacoma with an interest in drinking should know about it.

I contact Todd and he was more than happy to participate in 5 Question Friday this week. Here’s Todd:

1. What is the Tacoma Alcohol Consortium?

Tacoma Alcohol Consortium was designed to elevate the importance of locally crafted alcohol, because there is an urgency for awareness, education, and enjoyment of, what I believe to be, Tacoma’s second renaissance (the first being the art/museum scene).

The mission of TAC is: Sharing Enjoyment Through Imbibing Locally Crafted Alcohols. The mantra is: Drink Smarter.

2. How did it get started?

I have been pursing my dream of opening Tacoma’s first distillery since late 2009. I started to put my resources and energy into the distillery business in 2010 and since then I have been doing my best to figure out creative ways to get this business financed and open to the public. The concept of Tacoma Alcohol Consortium actually came to me during morning meditation. I had these thought of “a rising tide lifts all boats”. Then the question for me became, how can I accomplish that goal, not just for my distillery, but for everyone making alcohol within the greater Tacoma area. Tacoma has a chance to be a destination place on the map nationally if we all work together and seize our destiny. Tacoma was once the largest alcohol producer on the West Coast. There is no reason that cannot happen again.

3. How can people participate with the Tacoma Alcohol Consortium?

First, if you are on Facebook, click the ‘like’ button on our Facebook Page. Secondly, start reading and get engaged. This community can only thrive if people have passion and deep interest in the topic of locally produced alcohol. Frequent restaurants and stores that promote and sell locally made alcohol. When you see your friends drinking a fancy import, ask them if they’ve tried the fancy local beer, wine, or spirit. When you go to a restaurant or store and you don’t see local alcohol for sale mention it to the manager.

4. What are some of your favorite Tacoma places to imbibe?

Tacoma is a drinking town. There are too many places to list, but my heart is about cocktails and I would be most overjoyed when I would sit at the bar at the original Hilltop apothecary, 1022 South, with Chris Keil. Now I spend a lot of time at Tacoma Cabana. Jason Alexander is doing great things with Rum. There are numerous breweries that I enjoy like, Wingman, E9, The Harmon, and Tacoma Brewing Company, as well as locally produced wine at 21 Cellars and Stina’s Cellars.

5. What is your ultimate goal for the Tacoma Alcohol Consortium?

There are approximately 200,000 people in Tacoma and almost 2/3rds of those people are of legal drinking age (about half the American population doesn’t consume alcohol – a fact I found amazing), but that still leaves a lot of potential influencers to support a thriving ecosystem of locally made alcohol. I would like to see Tacoma create a healthy culture around producing and consuming alcohol which would make the City of Destiny a destination spot for people all over the world to come and enjoy. Plus, 50,000 Facebook Fans for TAC wouldn’t be bad either.

I’d like to thank Todd Buckley for taking the time to join me for 5 Question Friday. If you or anyone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, write me at tacomastories@gmail.com

Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date: MASA

masa_garage_doors_3Welcome to the second installment of Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date*. This is a weekly column where my girlfriend and I go somewhere in Tacoma and order the two cheapest entrees on the menu. Then we write about it. Last week we were in Hilltop checking out The Eleven Eleven. This week we’re on 6th Ave.

A couple of Sundays ago, 6th Avenue had their annual Art on the Ave festival, bringing in a couple of thousand people, a bunch of bands, vending booths of all shapes and sizes, and a lot of customers to the various local businesses on 6th Ave. Mimi happens to work at one such business.

Art On the Ave was practically a who’s who of previous 5 Question Friday participants. I saw Mark Lindquist, Sonics Guy, Tony Daniels from the Dignitaries, Jooley Heaps from Poison Apple, and others. It was nice to see such a cross section of Tacoma there.

As Art on the Ave wound down we decided to meet at the Red Hot, Tacoma’s famous hot dog and beer bar. They were offering a special menu thanks to Art on the Ave, but had run out of the least expensive thing on the menu (the Vegan Berliner). We ordered two of what was left. I drank my second beer and waited as I heard them announce last call. The Red Hot is usually quick with their orders so after a few minutes I asked what was going on. Unfortunately, my order had somehow gotten lost in the shuffle and their kitchen was closed. They apologized and refused to let me pay for my tab. Mimi and I left still hungry, but knowing we’d be back to the Red Hot soon.

We walked down the street to a place called Masa. I had actually never been to Masa. The extent of my knowledge of the place was that late one night while on a pub crawl, I saw a naked man try to fight three cops in front of it and lose.
As we walked in we noticed that there was no host to greet us but was soon told that we could simply find a table and they’d soon get our order. The place was busy but not crazy or anything. Our waiter put a couple of glasses of water on the table and got us some chips and salsa along with menus and then then scurried off to the next table.

I was still in the mood for a hotdog and luckily one of the cheapest things on the menu was a bacon wrapped hotdog for $7.99. Mimi chose the pulled pork sandwich for $8.99. Both came with fries. The waiter wrote down our order and then ran off again. The entire staff seemed to behave exactly like our waiter. They were all running around looking very busy and yet, there weren’t that many customers. To be fair, we were downstairs and there was an entire upstairs that may have been packed, but from our vantage point it seemed that they were all distracted. None of them were fully engaged with the customers as far as we could tell.

Our food arrived. The first thing I noticed was that my hotdog was significantly smaller than the bun. This isn’t something that really matters when it comes to taste but from a presentation standpoint, they should have gotten bigger dogs or smaller buns. The fries were seasoned, which is good because there was no salt or pepper on the table. The hotdog was alright though the bacon overpowered the flavor of the hotdog. Maybe it was the part where we had wanted to eat at the Red Hot, but I was a bit disappointed with the hotdog.

My solid two star bacon wrapped hotdog.

My solid two star bacon wrapped hotdog.

Mimi’s pulled pork sandwich was massive. Her pile of fries did not look as appetizing as mine. I asked her how her food was. “The fries are limp. The sandwich is dry and the bun is soggy which is too bad because it could be really good. It’s close to being good.”

She ate about half of her sandwich before she gave up. I tried a bite. It was indeed dry, but there was definitely some flavor to it. She was right. This sandwich was full of wasted potential.

“I’ve eaten here before.” Mimi said, “And I’d eat here again given the same circumstances.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean if for some reason I couldn’t eat at the Red Hot, was on foot, and was really hungry, I can see coming back here.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement. But then again, not every cheap date can be a good one.

– Jack Cameron

Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date By The Numbers:

Address: 2811 6th Ave., Tacoma, WA 98406 

Pulled Pork Sandwich: $7.99

Bacon Wrapped Hotdog: $8.99

Check: $16.98

*Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date does not include the price of drinks. This is mainly because I’m a bit of a craft beer freak and more often than not, I’m not willing to drink the cheapest beer on tap.

5 Question Friday With Tinkertopia’s R.R. Anderson

Tinkertopia has a bit of everything

Tinkertopia has a bit of everything

R.R. Anderson is one of Tacoma’s most outspoken and prolific artists. Last time him joined me for 5 Question Friday, he was talking about Tacomic. Now he’s part of a new artistic endeavor called Tinkertopia. I could try to explain what that means, but R.R. can do it a heck of a lot better than me. Here’s R.R.:


1. What is Tinkertopia?

Tinkertopia, LLC. is a creative reuse center specializing in alt. art supplies all rescued from the oblivion of our North American consumer culture way of life waste stream.  Our creative reuse center also maintains an onsite “Make and Take Tinkerspace” or open studio where you have freedom to tinker with access to our book and tool library.  Our network of Tinker Patrol Deputies are always on the lookout for perfectly good materials to rescue into a new life of creative pursuits.  Anyone can become a Tinker Patrol Deputy… we give you a badge and everything!


2. Where did Tinkertopia originate?

Tinkertopia manifested out of the twilight zone… Ms. Darcy and I would always joke about quitting my commercial, cubicle bound graphics design job and opening a Mr. Jones Glass/Burning Man style junk yard complete with Red Green style creeper delivery van.  We would imagine our store being much like the Creation Station up in Lynnwood, Washington or SCRAP USA down in Portland, Oregon or Urban Source up in Vancouver, BC.  These dreams quickly became PLAN B after the design firm I worked for plunged  into a violent death spiral.   From the lifeboat, my wife and I took stock of our ninja skills… I a graphic artist with web and marketing experience… Ms. Darcy a preschool Montessori teacher with theater and retail craft store experience.  We are fortunate to live in a city that encourages creative class entrepreneurship!  We packaged our crazy ideas into Tinkertopia applied for a Creative Endeavor storefront with the Tacoma Arts Commission’s Spaceworks Tacoma program.   Cosmic convergence!   I mean, I’ve been drawing hyper-local political cartoons since 2007… digging in politician’s trash cans looking for stuff to make beautiful drawings out of.  SKILLZ!!!


3. What are your hopes for Tinkertopia?

To survive, to become self-sustaining… maybe growing into a well worn community institution with that old book smell?  When customers enter into Tinkertopia, I want to conjure the same emotional response that I used to get walking into one of my grandparent’s basement/garage workshops that exist now only in haunting memories. We hope to create a place where things are taken apart… fixed and reassembled maybe not exactly looking the same, but looking better with that special patina of handyman ingenuity.  We want to change the relationship citizens have with ‘stuff’ which we believe is critical to planetary health awareness. We’re going to change the world or something! Maybe employee health benefits! Fun with a capital F! and capital U!


4. How can people help Tinkertopia?

We do pickups (click here for information on pick ups) in addition people can now Tinker Patrol Deputies can deliver donated materials for drop off at 1914 Pacific Ave!  Shoot us an email rerun@tinkertopia.com or give us a call (253) 778-6539  if you have questions !


5. What’s the one thing you want everyone to know about Tinkertopia?

We deliver 24 hr honest to god creative reuse customer support via Twitter & Facebook

Tinker1

I’d like to thank R.R. for joining me on 5 Question Friday. You can find Tinkertopia at 1914 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, WA 98402. For more information, check out the links below.
links:

http://www.northwestmilitary.com/music-and-culture/walkie-talkie-blog/2013/02/Tacoma-RR-Anderson-to-turn-trash-into-treasure-at-Tinkertopia/

http://www.tacomaweekly.com/citylife/view/tinkertopia/

http://blog.thenewstribune.com/arts/2013/07/10/one-persons-junk-another-persons-tinkertopia-art-foraging-store-opening-mid-july-on-pacific-avenue/#more-5477

If you or someone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, write to tacomastories@gmail.com.

–          Jack Cameron

Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date: The Eleven Eleven

1111Welcome to a new ongoing column for TacomaStories.com. It’s called ‘Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date*’. My girlfriend, Mimi and I like to go out to eat. And so once a week, we’re going to go somewhere in Tacoma, order the two cheapest entrees on the menu. We’ll tell you the price, what we thought of the place, and what we thought of the food and service.

For the first installment, we went to Hilltop’s own, Eleven Eleven. Located at 1111 on South 11th Street, the Eleven Eleven opened almost exactly a year ago by bearded twins Justin and Robby Peterson. This was not my first time at the Eleven Eleven but it’s walking distance from Mimi’s place and I’ve never gone there and been disappointed. It seemed the perfect place to try this little experiment out.

We walked in on a Saturday night. It was a busy but not overly crowded. We found a table for two in the back and were almost immediately handed menus. We ordered our drinks and consulted the menu. The Eleven Eleven serves mostly sandwiches and their sandwiches are amazing. Going to the Eleven Eleven and not ordering a sandwich would be like going to the Red Hot and not ordering a hot dog. You could do it, but why?

Mimi noticed that the hot sandwiches are almost all cheaper than the cold sandwiches. We looked over the list.

Mimi immediately found the grilled cheese sandwich for $7.00. I kind of wanted the Club, but it was $8.75 and there were plenty of options that were $8.50. The more I thought about Mimi’s Grilled Cheese, the better it sounded, but one of the rules of Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date* is that we order two different things. This way we’re not just talking about one dish. Besides, how boring is it when your date orders the same thing you did?

I ultimately decided on the Ham & Cheese. Mimi’s Grilled Cheese came with tomato soup and chips. I also could have added soup but that would have cost more. Mimi chose the jalapeno chips. I chose original flavor.

We drank our drinks and from my vantage point I could see part of the kitchen where the sandwiches were being prepared. Each plate that went out looked delicious. I’m likely a bit biased. I’m a big fan of sandwiches in general. My first job was at the Antique Sandwich Company. I knew exactly what Warren Zevon meant when he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and on Letterman he said, “Enjoy every sandwich.”  This is a place that Warren Zevon would have loved.

Our sandwiches arrived. Each had a slice of pickle with it. I’m not a fan of pickles so I handed Mimi mine. The chips were small bags of Tim’s Cascade Chips. I opened my bag and ate a couple of chips. For those of you who have not had Tim’s Cascade Chips, they are among the crunchiest chips on the planet. They may very well be made out of potato flavored rocks from the Cascade Mountains. Mimi asked if I could eat them given some recent dental work I had done. I told her it was no problem and hoped I was telling the truth.

For two of the cheapest things on the menu, the Eleven Eleven didn’t skimp on substance. My sandwich was full of ham and hot melted cheese. I bit into the sandwich and tried not to smile. I’d never had the ham and cheese sandwich here, but like all the others I’ve tried, it was incredible. As I put the sandwich down, a tiny string of cheese caught in my beard. Mimi laughed.

Mimi’s first reaction to the tomato soup was to say, “This soup didn’t come from a can.”  She said it had hints of garlic and was definitely homemade. The fact that she ate almost all of it even after the grilled cheese sandwich was gone is impressive given that she doesn’t typically like tomato soup on its own. Mimi added, “The soup and sandwich aren’t pretentious and fussy. It’s simple food, done really well.”

Our check came as we finished. The price of the food was $16.97. So for a twenty dollar bill you can have two great sandwiches along with a 15% tip. Not bad at all.

–          Jack Cameron

Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date By The Numbers:

Address: 1111 South 11th Street, Tacoma, WA 98405

Grilled Cheese Sandwich: $7.00

Ham & Cheese Sandwich: $8.50

Check: $16.97

*Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date does not include the price of drinks. This is mainly because I’m a bit of a craft beer freak and more often than not, I’m not willing to drink the cheapest beer on tap.

5 Question Friday With Tacoma Brewing’s Morgan Alexander

Morgan

I first encountered Tacoma Brewing Co.’s place while looking for somewhere to have a drink before I went to see a movie at the Grand. Morgan’s brother, Tristan was working. Lately, craft brewers have been popping up everywhere in and around Tacoma.

 Most of them make an IPA, a Stout, and maybe something slightly different. The choices at Tacoma Brewing were strange and exciting. I ordered a honey/strawberry beer. After that, Tristan let me taste a few others. Not one of these beers seemed like a safe bet to me. Each seemed to be pushing the envelope of craft brewing. Sure, they had a stout but it was a cherry/pomegranate stout.

As I talked to Tristan, he told me about his brother, Morgan. He said, “He’s been brewing stuff practically since high school when he learned you could turn sugar into alcohol.

A few weeks later I got a tour of Morgan’s operation and got to talk with Morgan. When I tried to describe the experience and the type of adventurous drinks that Morgan is making to a friend after the thing, I said, “When it comes to brewers, where others are professors, this guy is Indiana Jones.”

I’m happy and honored that Morgan agreed to join me this week for 5 Question Friday. Here’s Morgan:

1. How did Tacoma Brewing get started?

It got started out of an obsession to make flavor-forward beers for the masses… or at least Tacoma! It was some years in the making but after getting feedback from dropping samples off at my favorite watering holes, I decided to go for it and file for a commercial beer making permit.

2. What’s your favorite brew you’ve made so far?

My favorites are the Penalty Kick Double IPA (11%) – it drinks like a 7% and is very citrus hoppy – very juicy! On the darker side I like the Kentucky Bourbon Stout… because I love bourbon and it’s very bourbon-forward.

3. What’s the most misunderstood thing about craft brewing?

I’m not sure about that one!

4. Where can people get your beer?

People can get my beer at the taproom and as of this week at the Red Hot and Parkway – and soon other fine beer places.

5. What’s next for Tacoma Brewing?

Next is scaling up production and moving to a larger space. That’s the two year plan, at least. I am also one of the only breweries making a “pre-prohibition style ginger ale” line (contains alcohol) and I hope to start bottling them by this fall to get it out to local grocery stores and bottle shops.

I’d like to thank Morgan for participating in 5 Question Friday and I’ll say right now that his ginger ale is amazing. You can try his continuing changing selections yourself at Tacoma Brewing Co. at 625 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, WA 98402. They’re open 5pm – 9pm Mon-Fri and 3pm – 9pm on Saturdays.

If you or someone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, drop me a line at TacomaStories@gmail.com
– Jack Cameron