Suddenly Last Sumner

Tacoma Pierce County Restaurant Reviews.

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CenterStage, 5th Avenue, and ManeStage - 3 Plays in 3 Days

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Suddenly Last Sumner
by Don and Peggy Doman

Pick Quick Better Burgers in Fife, Washington.

I think we've ended an adventure by stopping in at Pick-Quick Burgers in Fife for burgers and fries, but we had never started an adventure there before. It seemed appropriate, however. We were off to see a musical revue of songs from the British Rock and Roll Invasion of the mid-sixties - I'm Into Something Good. Since many of us were dating and dancing around that time AND based on a beautiful afternoon where we could dine outside at picnic tables, we chose wisely.

Bacon cheeseburger and fries from Pick Quick Better Burgers in Fife, Washington.I wanted three bacon cheeseburgers, two orders of fries and a large chocolate malt. I settled for one bacon cheeseburger and an order of fries. Peg's sister Pat joined us for dinner but at the last minute decided not to continue on to the revue. Now, that was a bad choice . . . but then she had a lot to do so she could leave town for the Oregon coast. Sue Lord and her daughter Angie, had never eaten at Pick-Quick before. Peg and I knew the routine. While Donn and Debbie Irwin stood in line just to place their order, Peg called in our order, picked up our order, and mostly ate our order before they joined us at the picnic table. As usual the burgers were perfect as were the greasy and salty French fries. I helped Peg and Pat finish off their fries after devouring mine. Donn had the chocolate malt that I wanted. Darn him.

Sue and Angie would be newbies for CenterStage as well. Peg and I have seen a number of productions there, but we didn't know how good it was going to be.

Jessie Smith performing in I'm Into Something Good at the CenterStage in Federal Way, Washington.Sue followed us up to the CenterStage-Knutsen Family Theatre. Peg and I grabbed front row seats while the others sat about four rows back of us. The CenterStage has festival seating, so you can pretty much sit where you want. We sat down and began looking over the cast bios. Matthew Dela Cruz was one of the featured eight singers. I laughed. We had seen the two Dela Cruz brothers at Tacoma Musical Playhouse production of The Drowsy Chaperone. The brothers played two gangster brothers masquerading as chefs. I had already seen his brother taking a seat in the house.

Of the eight players in the program, we had seen five of them perform before. Some of them several times. Jessie Smith was a favorite from Ain't Misbehavin'. He performed an excellent version of The Viper Drag in the outstanding Fats Waller tribute. Stacie Calkins also did a great job in that production. They both had excellent solos in Something Good and joined together for Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood.

Jenny Shotwell performing in I'm Into Something Good at the CenterStage in Federal Way, Washington.While we were waiting for the revue to begin, Donn came down the aisle and sat down behind me dropping his arms over my shoulders to show me the picture of Jenny Shotwell. In Sixties Chicks and Sixties Kicks (both productions at the Harlequin Theatre in Olympia) she was absolutely fantastic. Her renditions of At Last and White Rabbit had been iconic performances. Donn was expecting the same from her at CenterStage. Alison Monda had also performed in Sixties Kicks, but I thought she had blasted her way through her pieces then. Not so much this time, but still . . . However, since Sixties Kicks Peg and I had seen her in The Last Schwartz, which was a non-singing role. She nailed it. I look forward to seeing her again.

Director and creator Alan Bryce did a great job. He hooked me early and reeled me into the production. With projected images of children working in coal mines and sweatshops for the hundred years leading up the to the 1960s in tandem with acapella renditions of work songs and music hall pieces they blended and culminated into James Padilla's gritty We Gotta Get Out Of This Place. What a great five minutes.

My favorite song was Jenny Shotwell doing the trifle My Boy Lollipop. It was a far cry from the soul piercing White Rabbit, but her other songs got her full attention and they came out perfect as well. Donn let me know his feelings, "Well, she did it, again." She did and so did CenterStage.

We drove home humming and singing and talking about the performances.

The view from the copper bridge of the White River in Sumner, Washington.

Saturday morning Peg and I were off to Sumner, where we had rented a lovely two-bedroom cottage. Catherine Reuter from Saturn Barter had recommended the place and we took advantage of it.

Our cute little cottage in Sumner, Washington.Armed with a Google map and the lockbox code we easily found the cottage and opened the door. We went inside to look around and then began bringing in our suitcases and bags. We decided to make the bedroom with the two single beds our bedroom for our stay. The bedroom with the double bed was set up for one bedside reading lamp. Both Peg and I read.

Sumner has a population of around eight thousand people. Our cottage was about six short blocks from the heart of town. You can drive through Sumner in only a few minutes . . . even at twenty-five miles per hour. I explored inside the city limits and drove around the neighborhood. We picked a great time for staying there. Rhododendrons were blooming everywhere. Most of the yards we saw were well kept with plenty of flowers. Our yard was no exception, both inside and out.

A daffodil teacup at our cute little cottage in Sumner, Washington.Freshly cut flowers were nicely displayed inside, but we had to move them outside because of allergies. I removed the scented candles and put them in the cupboards. There were open shelves with the teacups. Peg's favorite was the one with the hand painted daffodils on it. I sat up my laptop on the kitchen table with my back to the window and facing the teacups.

The cottage has everything you could possibly need for a temporary home. It's clean and bright. We used the refrigerator to store our doggie bags for two days before we threw them away, which is just like home.

When we stay in a large city hotel, I usually sit in the lobby and watch the passing parade of people. In a small town, there are benches and chairs on the sidewalks to sit in . . . the parade is just a little shorter.

Miss Adelaid and Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls at the 5th Avenue in Seattle.Once we made ourselves at home, we left for Seattle. We drove to Main Street and turned left. We crossed the copper bridge over the White River and headed towards Seattle. You can never tell about local traffic even on Saturdays. We arrived in Seattle with plenty of time to spare. We parked in our favorite garage and walked to the 5th Avenue Theatre. Inside I bought a plastic glass of olives and another of nuts along with a bottle of water for Peg. I ate my olives. Peg poured her nuts into a hankie and we took our seats. She nibbles on the nuts if she gets hungry.

Sitting next to Peg was a nice couple from Port Angeles, Wayne and Sandra Roedell. Peg and Wayne chatted. It turned out he is a member of the Port Angeles Rotary Club, while I am a member of the Rotary Club of Tacoma #8. They are season ticket holders who take the ferry over from the Olympic peninsula each time.

I remember watching Fugue for Tinhorns sung on the Gary Moore Show . . . or maybe it was the Ed Sullivan Show in the early fifties. I love the music of Frank Loesser. He wrote such great duets. I'll attend almost any Loesser musical production. I sit at my baby grand and sometimes play I'll Know When My Love Comes Along or I've Never Been in Love Before just to amuse myself. Sometimes I'll listen to the songs on CD. My favorite is Sue Me sung by Frank Loesser himself. Well, actually my favorite Frank Loesser song sung by the master is Bloop Bleep, but that's not from Guys and Dolls.

Dinner at The Buttered Biscuit in Sumner, Washington.After the show we headed back to Sumner. We checked out several restaurants before deciding on The Buttered Biscuit where I had eaten Mother's Day breakfast, while Peg had not. Peg ordered the chicken fried steak, while I ordered the captain's plate. Peg was served cornbread and had the same reaction that I had, "What the heck is this . . . and why?" Why is it so big? Why does it have icing? What are you supposed to do with it? Like before it was left on the table mostly untouched.

They serve such large portions at The Buttered Biscuit and yet, for a huge platter of fried shrimp, scallops, clams, fish and French fries, they served one paper cup of cocktail sauce and one of tarter sauce? I asked for more tarter sauce, lemon wedges and ketchup. I was brought one more cup of tarter sauce, four lemon wedges and a new bottle of Heinz. I ran out of tarter sauce almost immediately and never got to the fish. Although the runny coleslaw looked like something ground up for babies, it was excellent. The scallops looked just this side of burnt, but were still moist inside. Looks can be deceiving.

Dinner at The Buttered Biscuit in Sumner, Washington.Accompanying diner was a wilted lettuce salad. When it first came, I thought that the bacon was underdone. True it wasn't crispy, but it was chewy and flavorful. My mother would have cooked the bacon and then thrown the grease and bacon on top of the lettuce to wilt it a bit before adding vinegar and sugar. The salad was missing the little gritty pieces of bacon from the frying pan, but I did enjoy the sesame seed dressing.

Peg loved her chicken fried steak and the deep fried green beans that came with it were yummy. My only problem with the chicken fried steak when I ate breakfast there on Mother's Day was that there was way too much gravy on everything and by the time I got near the middle of my steak it was soggy. Peg got a smaller piece (the Gramma order) and it stayed crispy.

Raspberry pie from The Buttered Biscuit in Sumner, Washington.For dessert I ordered two slices of their raspberry pie to take home. I gave Peg a bite later on that night and ate one piece. The next day I cut Peg a small slice of the second piece and then ate the rest myself. With her approval of course, with her approval!!!

I noticed on the internet that Sumner is the Rhubarb Pie Capitol of the World. I did not know that, but was disappointed when The Buttered Biscuit didn't have rhubarb pie. As we left town for Seattle earlier in the day we stopped in at the Visitor's Center because they mentioned a free piece of rhubarb pie. We found no one there, no free pie, and certainly no free rhubarb pie. So, at The Buttered Biscuit our hopes were dashed again with the only solace being raspberry pie. It was so good that I forgot it wasn't rhubarb.

Breakfast biscuits and gravy at the K.C. Bakery and Cafe in Sumner, Washington.Sunday Morning was overcast, but it was a good day for an early morning drive. I got a good lay of the land before stopping in at K.C. Bakery and Café. I ordered biscuits and gravy with my hashbrowns "burnt, burnt, burnt . . . with an onion cut up in them and eggs over-easy. Everything was delivered to my table just how I liked them. The biscuit was good, the gravy was excellent and the hashbrowns were dark brown and both chewy and crunchy. I could have inhaled the whole breakfast, but chose to leave a little egg, some biscuit, some gravy, and some hashbrowns. I was eating by myself while Peg slept in, so I knew there might be a second breakfast somewhere that day. KC's is open every day at 6:00 AM, so I knew I could always come back on Monday if I needed a perfect breakfast for myself.

A huge maple bar at the K.C. Bakery and Cafe in Sumner, Washington.Peg hadn't given me instructions, so I could have simply gone back to our cottage, but, just to make sure I was covered I asked about the donuts in the display case. "Homemade?" The answer was yes. I chose Peg's favorite, a maple bar. They were huge. Peg said it was probably the best maple bar she had ever eaten.

I know Peg likes maple bars, while I like apple fritters. When we have grandchildren sleep over we stop in at Safeway for supplies . . . like donuts. The kids usually get the ones with colored sprinkles all over them. To each his own. Until the kids start wanting their own lobsters, we're happy to buy them donuts and keep them happy.

After sampling the maple bar, we went shopping and then stopped in a KC's for lunch. Peg was disappointed in her schnitzel sandwich, but I was happy to share my BLT and goulash soup. Both were excellent.

The Sumner Performing Arts Center in Sumner, Washington.

When I Googled Sumner on the net, I saw that Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest was playing at The Sumner Performing Arts Center. We love the play, but had never heard of the group The ManeStage Theatre Company. We took a chance.

A cast member from The Importance of Being Earnest playing at The Sumner Performing Arts Center in Sumner, Washington.The Sumner Performing Arts Center has 800 seats. It's beautiful and even has stages on either side like the Seattle Children's Theatre does. When I saw a butler opening the door for each patron I assumed that this was a promotion for two other upcoming plays: The Butler Did It and What the Butler Saw. That's what happens when we assume. We are usually wrong. The butler was to get everyone in the mood for this play, The Importance of Being Earnest. He was a cast member.

When I attend a play by a production group I am unfamiliar with . . . and sometimes very familiar with . . . I worry about the audio. Will the actors be able to project? If they use microphones will they work correctly and how many of the actors will have one. An 800 seat theatre made me worry even more.

Jay Henson and Sandy Wagner from The Importance of Being Earnest in Sumner, Washington.The opening lines erased all problems. The audio was a little "hot," but that was quickly adjusted and it was off to the races. Peg and I have seen Earnest a number of times, but I must say this was the most enjoyable production I've seen. Although a well written farce, quite often the play is produced with the reins pulled back. The director this time let the horses take the lead and possibly whipped them to boot. The results were hilarious and quite enjoyable from leaping about the furniture to a food fight. Looking over the cast credits I saw no one I recognized, but rather it looks like a repertory theater with a revolving cast.

The plot has two gentleman friends squabbling like siblings. By the end of the play we (and they) find out that they are in fact brothers. All the actors with major roles did an excellent job. The audience laughed and applauded in all the right places. Peg and I had a great time . . . isn't that why we attend?

Excellent nachos from Farrelli's in Sumner, Washington.After the play we drove a few blocks to Fred Meyer's and Farrelli's Pizza. Normally, I wouldn't dine out at a chain for our adventures, but Farrelli's is a local chain. They have good food. The Sumner Farrelli's is actually larger than our favorite in Tacoma. Peg and I shared a chop-chop salad and nachos. We forgot to request no jalapeńos. Peg had to pick her's off. I like a little heat. The salad had chopped kalamata olives, which Peg hates, but being chopped they worked for her and she enjoyed the salad. Since it was Sunday, so it was Happy Hour prices all day long. The tab was very reasonable including a Blue Moon and a Mike's Hard Lemonade.

Peg I read local hand-outs, talked, and relaxed until Peg who was facing the door exclaimed, "Look! There's Miss Prism." She was correct.

Peg with Shelleigh-Mairi Ferguson from The Importance of Being Earnest in Sumner, Washington.Miss Prism was a character in The Importance of Being Earnest. The character was played by Shelleigh-Mairi Ferguson. This was her tenth performance at the ManeStage. From Shelleigh-Mairi we learned that the ManeStage does both straight plays and musicals, but usually have higher attendance with musicals.

In the credits I saw that Shelleigh-Mairi played Mrs. Bennet in Pride & Prejudice - The Musical. I've never seen a musical version of Pride & Prejudice. I will have to keep my eyes open for more ManeStage productions. They are doing a musical version of Peter Pan this summer, so it sounds like a grandchild outing to me.

The local performance we saw in Sumner was a complete surprise . . . a very nice surprise.

Toast smeared with rhubarb jam in Sumner, Washington.On Monday morning I drove back to Main Street. Berryland had quite a few people in the café, while KC's did not, but then KC's is open seven days a week. I walked into Berryland, got a warm welcome and took a seat. My waiter, Mike listened to my order and questioned my request for "burnt, burnt, burnt hashbrowns . . . with an onion cut up in them." Mike asked, "Are you looking for them crispy or really burnt . . . because I can bring them out black if you want." He seemed like he had gone through this routine before, so against my better judgment I said, "Crispy." Mike delivered my chicken fried steak, eggs, toast and hashbrowns. There was one major good surprise and two problems. The good surprise was the rhubarb-raspberry jam for the toast. It was incredible.

One of the problems was the steak. It was crispy and really hot on the inside and never seemed to get cooler. This means microwave. I hate paying for microwaved food. I could have made that myself in the microwave at the cottage. My second problem was . . . guess what . . . the hashbrowns. The onions were indeed cut up in with the hashbrowns, but they were only a little brown and certainly not crispy.

Mike the waiter at Berryland Cafe in Sumner, Washington.Mike stopped over and asked how everything was. I didn't mention the microwaved steak, but did mention the hashbrowns. He offered to replace them. I replied, "No, that's okay, but I could use some more jam." He first went back to the kitchen and told the cook that the hashbrowns weren't as I ordered them. I don't think the cook was happy. There was a brief exchange of remarks. The cook's louder than the waiter's. Mike returned with some rhubarb-blackberry jam and again offered to replace the hashbrowns. I had already eaten as much as I wanted anyway . . . except for the newly delivered jam . . . so again I declined the offer for replacement hashbrowns.

I made one adjustment though. I bought a jar of rhubarb-blackberry jam to go. The freezer jam will go good on French toast, waffles, or possibly even Madagascar vanilla ice cream. Oh, yeah. I plan ahead.

Excellent Rhubarb pie from Berryland Cafe in Sumner, Washington.When I placed my original order I had asked for an espresso to go and mentioned that my wife was still in bed. In addition to the coffee I now ordered a slice of rhubarb pie to go. Mike asked what flavor, so I said, "Surprise me." He replied, "Vanilla-Caramel?" I nodded my head in the affirmative. "Whipped cream?" "Nope," I said. He produced a clamshell with the pie and he mentioned the gave me a little extra.

I took the espresso and the pie home (back to the cottage). I left Peg with the coffee, which she really liked and even asked the flavor. After a while the rhubarb pie kept calling to me. Peg mentioned she had sampled the crust. When I opened it up a little piece of crust was gone and I didn't see any extra goodies . . . oh, well. Easy come, easy go.

BLT and soup from Berryland Cafe in Sumner, Washington.We spent the next forty-five minutes packing and picking up, almost leaving and finally leaving. Peg decided she wanted lunch, so it was back to Berryland. Mike greeted us and asked Peg, "You got up." Thank you, Mike. I ordered a side of toast and a biscuit. Peg ordered a BLT and bean soup. Mike then asked what I wanted, I replied again, "A side of toast and a biscuit."

A few minutes later we had Peg's BLT, a cup of soup, and a biscuit for me, but no side of toast. I really just wanted the jam anyway, but it was a good sized biscuit and more pan baked than cookie sheet baked. I asked for more butter. The biscuit was really hot. My guess, again was microwave. I hate re-heated food. I gave Peg a piece of biscuit and jam and she gave me most of her sandwich. She didn't like the bacon. It wasn't as crispy as she likes. I really liked Mike the waiter. He tried so hard. When I asked to take his photograph, he opened up his hoodie to show the Berryland Café Tee. He had been quick to make amends and would have about the toast as well. It all comes down to attitude, which can get you out of almost any jam . . . especially if there is rhubarb involved.

We had a very nice time in Sumner and are already making plans to return. There's a used book store we would like to explore, a little Italian restaurant that looked interesting, and an ice cream place with rhubarb smoothies? OMG! The taste of rhubarb pie is still on the back of my tongue . . . and I have a jar of rhubarb-blackberry jam calling to me.

Orange and pink rhododendrons.

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