If you take a look at Poodle Dog reviews, you'll find at least one that agrees with your own assessment: "This place is pretty classic on the old diner look and feel. It is right off the highway exit, has generous portions and the wait staff keeps the old cup of joe flowing. I felt like I had been taken via time machine to Mels Diner on the Alice TV set. There are not many good family style diners left and this seems like a good, honest tribute to a great bit of Americana."
On of the big assets is their bar, the "Pup Room." I did get a kick out of a review , "The only reason this place is getting ONE star is because my Drink was strong... The waitresses rarely checked on you. YOU have to track them down for any thing you need. . ."
It sounds like the Poodle Dog has a bar like the Harbor Lights, where when people come for a drink, they come for a DRINK.
Some things never change . . . a neon sign still welcomes people in from the highway and freeway.
I hadn't dined at the Poodle Dog for years. The last time I was there, they had fallen on hard times. The carpet was worn and the place just felt old. I was pleasantly surprised this morning. The parking lot by the restaurant was completely full. I had to park further into the strip mall. Yet, when I walked through the door I was greeted almost immediately and was seated in a booth by the window with menus . . . total elapsed time, less than a minute.
From my seat I looked across the table at an old Richards Studio photograph. I had to laugh. One of my long-time friends is Ed Richards. His father was The Richards of photography fame in the Tacoma area. Most of the historical photos from the forties, fifties, and sixties seen hanging from the library to older building around town are from Richards Studio. I felt at home.
I was meeting client John Day, who owns Furnace Doctors. They install and repair HVAC Systems and furnaces. John was meeting a Tacoma client and then heading to Puyallup for another client. He covers HVAC (mostly residential) Systems from Lynnwood and then the eastside on down to Tacoma. The first time we met was at the Turkey Inn in Edmonds, a number of years ago.
We caught up on general life and football (John lives in a divided household - Cougars and Huskies, while I root for both, which will make it difficult when they meet in the Apple Cup since both of them are in the top twenty-five teams . . . or better!) and then moved into marketing. The friendly atmosphere of The Poodle Dog added to our discussions. John had the California Benedict and loved it. The slices of avocados called to me, but I had already ordered.
I had the Landmark Platter (under $12) with three eggs (medium), hashbrowns, two biscuits, gravy, sausage links (2), ham (half a thin slice), and bacon (2 pieces).
Like the review said, I never had to request a re-fill for my coffee . . . nor my Diet Coke. The waitress was friendly. I'm assuming she passed on my instructions for "burnt, burnt, burnt" hashbrowns and medium eggs. The eggs were perfect, but the hashbrowns could have been a lot crispier. The hashbrowns weren't worth complaining about, they actually tasted good and had enough color to appease my tastes . . . but still . . .
I never expect to have biscuits I like, so I wasn't disappointed in the two biscuits. Bland biscuits can be helped along immensely with good gravy. The biscuits, however were on their own and received no help. The ham, which was hiding under most of the gravy provided no assistance, either. The bacon, fortunately carried the day!
The next time I eat breakfast at The Poodle Dog (mid-December with John), I'll probably order the same thing, but will let the waitress know that "burnt, burnt, burnt" means "extra" crispy. I'll also ask that sourdough toast be substituted for the biscuits. The sourdough might elevate the gravy.
The earlier review mentioning "Americana" hit the nail on the head. The steady stream of people entering and leaving the restaurant was of all ages and many ethnicities. They all looked happy. Fife is a nice, friendly corner of the world. . . . just don't exceed the speed limit!
All in all, the Poodle Dog has improved and deserves a second chance. Waitresses need a little help from patrons who know what they want, and cooks who listen to requests. I look forward to seeing John, again AND dining at the Poodle Dog!