The restaurant Urban Elk name had come up three times in the last few days. One was from my buddy Steve Anderson asking if I had tried the restaurant, yet. I said, “No,” but was corrected by two other people that I had . . . but had not reviewed it. The Urban Elk took over the space vacated by Smoke + Cedar, which was run by Pacific Grill. On paper this is a great place for a nice restaurant. There is a circular drive-way where you can drop off guests by the front door. There is parking available (golfers are forbidden to park near the restaurant). There is a long bar, plenty of room for guests, windows to view Allenmore Golf Course, and covered outside seating for hot days and warm evenings. In reality there were continuing kitchen problems. The space was too large for a small staff. The food, while interesting, was inconsistent.
I dropped Peg off at the front door and parked our car. Every time I park facing the shopping center across the street I am apprehensive. I have an unreasonable fear that I will not slow down in time, but instead will jump the five inch curb and launch myself into space and suffer a hard landing fifty-feet below. It’s probably just me. I had a 1985 Thunderbird I called the silver bullet. I loved that car. It was like a horse that didn’t want to be held back. In fact if the controls weren’t set perfectly on the heater/AC unit it would take off like a rocket (randomly). I was never prepared for EVA (extravehicular activity) and feel like it is still possible even with my turbo Volvo.
I walked into the entry way to find Peg and our friends waiting to enter the restaurant area. The women walked ahead, but my friend Donn and I saw our friend Mel Schuckenbrock and stopped to chat. I met Mel in the Tacoma Executives Association. He is one of my very rare friends who is from Missouri, as I am. I still have relatives there. I hope one day they will be paroled and join me in Washington State. Mel is the manager at the restaurant and remains a friend, or at least until he reads this review.
Most of the food drew an “okay” from my friends. One had pancakes and thought they were completely tasteless.
The night before I had looked over the menu. I knew what Peg was going to order. They have homemade waffles: 2 golden waffles served with butter and syrup on the side and choice of bacon or sausage for only $8.95. A definite winner! Peg chose the waffles. Their waffle machine was out of order. Peg ordered the French Toast, instead from the Sweet and Savory portion of the menu. It was neither. The toast had no flavor and only two jam/jelly selections: grape or strawberry, which are not her favorites. Her favorites are berries: raspberry, marionberry, and black berry (all can be found at other local restaurants). The bacon was thin, but crispy. Again . . . it was okay.
I ordered the Chicken Fried Steak with my usually order of “hash browns burnt, burnt, burnt . . . with an onion cut up in them . . . and lots of gravy.” Eggs over easy. At Tower Lanes I ordered hash browns three Sunday’s in a row and never got hash browns burnt, burnt, burnt. Why should I return when a simple request can’t be filled? My hash browns at Urban Elk were delivered a little browner than those delivered to my friends, but nowhere near a range of burnt. In fact, except for one little bite, they weren’t even crisp. Instead of looking like they were taken off the grill and placed on the plate, it looked like they had been placed on the plate and then operated on. Perhaps, they forgot the onions and were trying to make it appear that they had been grilled together with the hash browns? I don’t know, but both presentation and crunchiness were missing. My over-easy eggs looked like they had been folded over. They were good, but unappealing. The good news? My wife and I loved the chicken fried steak. She thought the gravy was a little salty, but still good. I would order it again . . . and again. I found the gravy excellent. If the cook had put some gravy on my miserable hash browns, I wouldn’t have complained.
Once we finished with breakfast I stepped out onto the covered deck, enjoyed the view, and thought of the possibilities. I love golf course restaurant food. I loved the food at Madrona Links in Gig Harbor, and Meadow Park in Lakewood. Before the renovation of Allenmore, Doyle’s was the restaurant there and I enjoyed it. It wasn’t fancy it was just plain good. The prices, like the current offerings of the Urban Elk, were reasonable. The Urban Elk is only open for breakfast Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I think Doyle’s was open every day for breakfast. I used to have breakfast and then golf or golf and have lunch. Sometimes I would golf and have dinner. The Tacoma Exchange Club met there every week for breakfast. I was always happy with the food and the service. The Urban Elk could be doing that. Like Smoke + Cedar the problem is consistency. The Urban Elk could be and should be a popular eatery.