It was going to be a long evening. We had an early dinner, before six at Pacific Grill on Pacific in downtown Tacoma. Just minutes away from our final destination: Dukesbay Productions in the Merlino Art Center.
We drove up to the corner restaurant and used the Valet parking. It only costs $10 and saves time both before and after dinner.
After we were seated, we were greeted by one of our favorite waitresses in Tacoma, Danielle. She soon had a glass of Pinot Blanc for Peg and a Shirley Temple with a side dish of cherries for me. Ordering didn't take long. We don't always order the same thing, but we're familiar with the menu and we know what we like. Peg and I both ordered the smoked steelhead appetizer. Local steelhead is so good. With lemon juice, capers, red onion and a creamy schmeer of cheese on flat crackers we were soon on our way to heaven. Each plate has three offerings. Peg gave me one of her's.
In April, Pacific Grill will be changing their menus. I hope they keep this appetizer.
We looked around as we ate. An old friend and his wife were sitting nearby, but we didn't want to disturb them, until later when they were joined by other friends.
Steph Farber and his wife Phyllis Harrison enjoying themselves as well.
Steph's family owns and operates LeRoy Jewelers, which opened downtown in 1941. Steph joined the business in 1973. They do fantastic custom jewelry. Steph was one of the first people I met in Rotary when I joined in 1990. It's nice to see that Steph still supports downtown businesses.
For my dinner main course I ordered the pork chops. I like pork chops, but that's not the reason I ordered that entrée. It came with a veggie hash of tahini-roasted golden beets, young arugula, charred leeks, roasted carrots plus a honey mustard sauce w/ turmeric making it a Super food group.. The pork was cooked as I asked, "slightly pink." The sauce from the pork blended well the hash.
Since we live in the Pacific Northwest, we like to take advantage of our seafood offerings. From clams and oysters to crab, scallops and fish. One of our favorite fish is steelhead. The steelhead at Pacific Grill is from the Columbia River.
We could eat steelhead all day long. Steelhead is a form of coastal rainbow trout or Columbia River redband trout. Steelhead is a game fish and returns to fresh water to spawn after two or three years in the Pacific Ocean. Steelhead looks like salmon and tastes somewhere between salmon and trout (same family). Peg cooks a mean salmon, steelhead and trout, also. Salmon, steelhead, and trout all taste great with just a little bit of lemon juice. Pacific Grill added sesame seeds to the steelhead for a little healthy crunch. Peg does the same with Dover sole (plus turmeric).
I addition to the main courses, we ordered a side dish of the Veggie Hash, which was so good the next morning for breakfast.
Peg used to order the scallops all the time, so rather than asking for one of her precious treasures, I would ask for two scallop with my dish. Now, that's included on the menu. You can order lobster medallions (which are so easy to over-cook), prawns, and scallops for ten dollars. Both Peg and I asked for the bonus scallops. Scallops are easy to over-cook also, but we've never had a bad one at Pacific Grill.
We took my cousin Chuck, to dinner at Pacific Grill and we gave him one of our scallops. He was cooking them not only brown on the top and bottom, but he would be them on edge and roll them until they were brown all the way around as well. He took one bite and then looked at us and said, "Oh . . . so that's what they're supposed to taste like!"
I love smoked scallops, which are chewy, but sautéed or fried scallops should not be chewy. They should offer some resistance as you bite into them, but they should almost melt in your mouth . . . like butter.
Joining Steph and Phyllis was David Fisher from the Broadway Center. He apologized first off for his clothing choice, "I just came from a track meet." Why come up with an excuse . . . this is Tacoma. "I didn't lose any race I was in," he continued. We've know David since he was Artistic Director at Tacoma Little Theatre. Eventually, he was hired away to California and then years later brought back to run the Broadway Center. He's done a fantastic job booking acts. We attend performances there from time to time, depending upon our schedules and the events from musicals (Annie Get Your Gun) to one-man shows (Paula Poundstone, Bob Newhart, and Arsinio Hall).
We chatted for awhile and then went back to our table for dessert. (Note the child walking behind David nibbling on good stuff from Pacific Grill. We take our own grandchildren to various restaurants, so they can appreciate fine dining and just plain good dining.)
Quite often Peg and I will share a dessert, but this time we placed separate orders, both containing ice cream. Danielle posed with Peg as she delivered the spiced pound cake with sautéed Asian pears and vanilla bean ice cream. The pears were wonderful. Danielle always does a great job for us, giving suggestions and making sure we get the fantastic meal we always anticipate.
I ordered the sticky toffee bread pudding with medjool dates, vanilla custard and cinnamon ice cream with caramel sauce. I ordered that for two reasons, one was because I love bread pudding, and the second was to get the memory of a bad bread pudding out of my memory from just days before. I think it had sat for a couple of days and been heated via microwave a time or two. It was just plain tough.
The cinnamon ice cream was a little too subtle. Of course I didn't have to pour the caramel sauce over everything . . . twice. I did hold back and didn't lick the caramel sauce pitcher.
We sat for a few minutes after the meal and then rushed for our car. Danielle had already arranged with the Valet service for it to be outside. We tipped the Valet, jumped into our over-sized Buick and drove to Dukesbay Productions for a dress rehearsal of their latest play. We arrived just minutes before it began. Director Randy Clark was at the front door to let us in. Even after a heavy meal we stayed awake laughing through both acts. It helped that the farce The Waltz of the Toreadors was fast-paced and funny. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful evening. Almost like being awarded a second dessert.
Read our comments at Ploys, Plays, and Pants at Half-mast - Waltz of the Toreadors Review- 2017.