The fifth time was a charm at Smoke + Cedar. They are still not a Pacific Grill, but they are finally living up to their charge. Peg and I were leaving Office Depot on South Union and almost on our way to a baseball game. The weather was changing . . . getting colder, windier, and rainier (not the mountain). We opted for a late lunch and a nap before going to the Tacoma Little Theatre for an excellent play. Smoke + Cedar was just two minutes away, so it won the toss . . . even though we've never really had a great time there before.
The restaurant was mostly empty, so getting a window seat wasn't difficult. Actually, we were the only ones at a window. Our waiter was Joaquin. He took our drink orders (a Shirley Temple for me and a happy hour amber beer for Peg).
I ordered the Razor Clam Fritters. The tarter sauce was nice, the lemon wedge was the perfect size and the fritters were tasty. Peg really enjoyed them. I wish they had a little more clam and a little less fritter, but that's kind of picky. No fritters escaped the meal. They were deep fried to a beautiful golden brown. The clam fritters and a side salad would make a nice lunch.
Peg ordered the flat bread pizza, which comes with artichokes, red peppers, and bacon. Several minutes after ordering Peg called Joaquin back over to our table and requested "No artichokes, but more red peppers." The peppers were red bell peppers, of course. It was served just as she ordered.
The pizza was beautiful. It tasted just like we expected, wanted . . . and received. Unlike a regular pizza, it didn't slow the rest of the meal down waiting to be completely baked.
Like the fritters, the pizza along with a salad would make a very nice lunch. These two items will probably bring us back for lunch many more times.
This time, instead of ordering a salad I ordered their Dirty Fries with Sawmill Gravy. I didn't expect to eat it all, and didn't, but I really enjoyed it. The fries were mixed with jalapeņos (both deep fried and fresh), garlic pieces, burnt ends (interesting little crunchy ends of French fries cooked dark brown).
I was surprised with the gravy, it was better than when the restaurant first started. Little blobs of gravy dotted the pile of fries. I might order extra gravy next time. The fries were wonderful in the ketchup as well, but by the time I started dipping, I was already full.
This was the best service we have had at Smoke + Cedar. Joaquin is new and is a friend of the chef, so I hope he stays. We filled out comment cards as did the people sitting close behind us. They too appeared to be extremely happy with the service and the food as well.
Joaquin did a great job. He had my Shirley Temple refilled twice without me having to ask. Joaquin was engaging and helpful. As with all restaurants, the wait staff means as much as the food.
This was our best experience at Smoke + Cedar. Pacific Grill, which owns the restaurant is one of our favorite restaurants in Tacoma. We have our favorite staff members their as well (Diane, and Danielle). We've now added Joaquin to our list of favorite servers . . . and will return. Hopefully, time and time, again.