Saturday, March 03, 2007

Dukes Chowderhouse - Tacoma Waterfront

Duke's Chowderhouse
Tacoma 3327 Ruston Way Tacoma
WA 98402


On a recent quiet rainy Friday afternoon, Anne and I decided to go to a nice dinner and on to Tacoma Actor's Guild for David Auburn's Proof on its final days before closing. So where better in the Northwest than the waterfront. We'd heard that the local chain Duke's Chowderhouse had opened a Tacoma location not too long ago, and thought that would be a great place to dine before the play. We made reservations for 6:00, and had no problem getting a very nice table in a small window alcove, with a great view of the foggy and rainy Commencement Bay just before dark. The fireplace behind me kept us quite warm, and the alcove presented a very cozy feeling of intimacy.

The service was a bit on the slow side, but adequate. I ordered the fish and chips, Anne had the cedar plank salmon. We both started with a cup of chowder. That's where things went downhill for us. I'm not sure if it was just the batch we had, or if it's their chowder in general, but it was way over-seasoned and almost gelatinous like split pea soup. The seasonings so overpowered the chowder-ness of it that it became more like a thick sauce than chowder, with almost no clam action at all. $5.95 a cup.

After some time, we were getting quite antsy for the food, when the waitress again brought us cups of the chowder, and seemed to be on the verge of arguing that we had not already had this course. She set the cups down, looked at them, and finally relented and carried them off to (hopefully) their correct table.

At long last the food arrived. Anne's salmon was very nicely seasoned, served on the cedar plank (removed by the server). However, it was almost sushi-like inside and not in our opinions done. Tasty - just a bit raw. The salmon (which was a decent size piece) came with a simple Caesar salad served on the same plate - nothing else - $24.95. I had the fish and chips - two decent size pieces that were fairly pedestrian. Not bad, not great. $14.95

So all in all, it wasn't a bad experience - overpriced, but I'm sure the rent on the place is a big factor in that. Average service, average in most ways.

Our Ratings:

Twin Peaks Cafe - North Bend, WA

Twin Peaks Cafe
aka Twede's Cafe
137 W. North Bend Way
North Bend, WA

Oh, where to begin! What a piece of work, this Cafe. We stopped in this picturesque little mountain community late on a Sunday afternoon, on our way for a long route into Montana. We had always heard of the place, as it was featured prominently in that weirdest-of-weird TV shows from 1990, Twin Peaks. Agent Cooper simply loved the cherry pie. Ok - the original burned down years ago, and has been rebuilt but we're told the new one looks just like the old.

The only menu items made available to us were burgers - we got there around 6:30 PM and they close at 7:00, so the only choice is burgers. Fine. I like burgers. And to their credit, they ave a lot of burgers to choose from. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger and fries, and Anne went for the fish burger (with fries as well). Not exactly cheap, given the divey look of the place - $8.99, with another $1.99 for a single fill of soda.

While waiting for the food, we couldn't help but nearly wretch at the filth of the place! My GOD it was filthy - the floor was filthy, the walls, the tables, even the chef - a twenty-something who came to our table with the dirtiest clothes I've ever seen on a person older than 6. He was covered in what appeared to be days worth of spilled meals on his shirt and pants.

Lest you think I'm kidding, here's a quick shot I took of the tile floor by our table:

Note the floor sweeper machine to the right, clearly not being used. I mean this place was FILTHY. All around the walls and counters are zillions of Tweety birds, all as filthy as the floor. Could be cute if they were clean, but I wouldn't want to touch any of them for fear of getting botulism.

So the food was delivered, by the filthy chef with as much food on his person as on the plates he delivered. The first thing I noticed was the slimy greasy soggy long skinny French fries. We each ate a few, and we're no prudes when it comes to greasy fries. But my God these things were so awful we couldn't eat them. My burger was ok - just ok. For $8.99 I expect something closer to Red Robin or TGI Fridays. This was more like a carnival burger - simply fried, plopped on a bun with the usual stuff.

Anne's fish burger was good - had some sort of really yummy sauce and cheese, and compared to my burger and those gawdawful fries, wasn't all that bad.

The rest of the menu looked about the same - omelettes for just under 10 bucks, and other pricey breakfast and lunch items. And other than the myriad of filthy Tweety birds, not much else in the way of decor - just a fairly quaint old diner-style place like a million others. If it were clean, it would actually be kinda cozy. We were not able to sample any of that legendary cherry pie, as there was none to be had. But for Twin Peaks fans, there is a large array of memorabilia from the show in the back hall by the restrooms - photos, news clippings and autographs from the days when Twin Peaks was the hottest thing on TV.

In summary, maybe it was just the 'end of the day blues' that made the floors, walls and tables so filthy (oh, and the chef too), but I would be hard pressed to EVER want to eat here again!

Our ratings:

Our rating system - Stars and Spoons

Our rating system is quite simple - 1 - 5 stars for each basic category: Taste, Service, Speed, Price vs. Value, Menu Choices, Atmosphere, Cleanliness, Overall 'Vibe', and the most important, the Rating of the Spoons. This is an overall rating that is based on a rounded-up average of the Star Ratings , and is intended as an overall opinion of our experience. One spoon means very poor, and 5 means we highly recommend. For the truly exceptional experience we hold the coveted Golden Spoon award:

Only the finest of the fine get this award.

However, we must sadly also state that the worst of the worst - those places that are so wretched that we really think no one should go there for any reason - the Mr. Yuk award:

So that's about it.

Follow us along as we venture around the US (ok - mostly the West) and try to weed out the Golden Spoons from the Mr. Yuk dives.

Dave & Anne
Roamin' Reviewers

Welcome to Dave and Anne's Roamin' Reviews

Welcome to Dave and Anne's Roamin' Reviews restaurant review blog. As traveling sales folk, we see a lot of the US as well as destinations outside our borders. Based in University Place, Washington - just a little West of Tacoma, about 30 miles South of Seattle - we of course have a lot to say about the local eateries. But we are frequently in Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Hawaii, Boston, Taichung Taiwan, and other locations. Unless you read the local papers in each area, you're not likely to know what restaurants rule and which suck. So we'll help you out.

Here no one is spared. We hit the high end posh places and the low end dives, and everyone gets treated equally. And each place generally only gets one shot - if it sucks the day we're there, then we say it sucks. We don't go back and try different items, different times, different staff rotations. Nope. It better be good when we're there or we write about it.

So keep an eye out here - maybe one of your favorite places will be praised or panned any day soon.

Dave and Anne - The Roamin' Reviewers - February 2007