Pacific Grill puts a smile on its autumn menu

Happy Hour Bottle Caps, scallops, duck and more ...

By Kristin Kendle on October 31, 2012

Pacific Grill is a shining culinary gem in downtown Tacoma, the home of award-winning deliciousness, the creation of chef and owner Gordon Naccarato. Originally from Tacoma, Naccarato worked at and learned his tasty craft around the world before returning to Tacoma to open Pacific Grill.

If you've never been to Pacific Grill before, the menu revolves around fresh seafood, chicken and steak in uncommonly great pairings with fresh veggies and sides. The dishes are inventive, yet comforting. Adventurous, yet familiar. A side of tater tots with bleu cheese? Yes please!

And while the restaurant has been open for years now, Naccarato and his staff always strive to keep things fresh and new. The menu changes four times a year, in step with the seasons, and often ingredients used travel with the seasons, too. Just recently, the fall menu rolled out.

"Our fall menu has some fun new items, like the Happy Hour Bottle Caps - spicy breaded deep-fried jalapeños with umami mayo - really spicy - really delicious if you like things hot like I do," says Naccarato. "Also my Chef Jessica came up with an Asian-style red curry Dungeness crab-dip served with won tons that is a fun take on that Northwest staple."

Other fall items include Weathervane scallops from Alaska served with cauliflower with Spanish Manchego cheese gratin and smoked almonds; duck breast served with farro combined with bacon, leeks, wild mushrooms, and red wine sauce; and a mac and cheese with smoked Gouda, duck and bacon sausage, and baby spinach.

How can you go wrong? You can't.

When designing a new menu, Naccarato takes many things into account.

"First of all I always want the food to be delicious but I also want it to be fun - things that I would like to eat if I was out on the town - so the menu reflects my aesthetic," he says. "I am not a fan of "tweezer food" - overly composed where the chef needs tweezers to accomplish it. So boring. Not a fan of molecular gastronomy. I want simple honest food that tastes and looks like itself. And I also love to collaborate with my chefs who have tons of great ideas that we toss around and taste."

And while Naccarato, like many Northwesterners, is a fan of using local produce, the fact is that there is not a great deal of fresh local produce in the winter. So instead of focusing only on the bounty from local farms, streams, and ocean, he integrates products from around the country and around the world.

"But one thing you won't find on my menu is bringing raspberries in during the winter from Chile or nonsense like that," he says. "Just because you can find raspberries in winter, or asparagus grown in Mexico, doesn't mean we should eat them year-round. It is much more fun to have the first asparagus of the season, or that perfect Puyallup strawberry after a winter of deprivation."

PACIFIC GRILL, 11:30 A.M. TO 10 P.M. MONDAY-THURSDAY, 11:30 TO TO 11 P.M. FRIDAY, 5-11 P.M. SATURDAY, 1502 PACIFIC AVE., TACOMA, 253.627.3535

LINK: Pacific Grill's fall menu

Pacific Grill benefit Party

On a sadder note, a couple Pacific Grill staff members lost loved ones in the past two years. Chef Jessica Sewell lost her husband to cancer. Cancer also took Manager Carol Reutercrona's mother.

In their memory, the PG staff will throw a benefit party for the Lymphoma & Leukemia Society Sunday, Nov. 4 at The Swiss in Tacoma.

A silent auction will begin at 3 p.m.  The Ben Potter Band and Poodle Bomb will perform beginning at 6 p.m. A raffle will be held through the party, which end at 10 p.m.

Minors are welcome until 8 p.m.

Sewell and Reutercrona are participating in the Lymphoma & Leukemia Society's Team in Training.