A Pinch of Sel

Tacoma’s newest restaurant specializing in brunch, Sel delivers farm to table French-inspired cuisine in a class of its own.

Sel (French for salt), offers brunch as well as tapas, cocktails, and a prix fixe dinner on select nights. There’s no signage apart from an A-frame sandwich board, but Stadium District locals will recognize the spot, previously occupied by Laura’s Bayview Bar & Grill. Now transformed into a cozy escape, Sel brings understated luxury to Tacoma with neighborhood charm.

Patrons will appreciate the attentive service, elegant decor, and large, heated patio. Inside, giant framed mirrors elevate the small space, and chandeliers glitter as you sit in comfortable, high-backed chairs. Outside, a large centerpiece composed of moss-covered tree branches floats above a long communal table with stunning views of the Port of Tacoma. The Palace of Versailles meets Pacific Northwest cabin.

Photo by Lia Lee

The menu features French classics like Croque Monsieur and baked brie, but as a whole isn’t strictly European. The Puget Sound’s hotpot of cultures makes their mark in dishes like the Chorizo Tortilla Stack ($14) and Grilled Hangar Steak Sandwich ($14) with chimichurri sauce. However, Francophones will be delighted by the sight of fresh French Press coffee, available in two sizes: 4 cups ($12) and 2 cups ($6). An American brunch classic gets a French spin in French Toast à la Banane ($13). Brioche bread creates a superior pudding-like consistency before basking in a shower of caramelized bananas. It’s finished with creamy mascarpone, chopped hazelnuts, and a light dusting of powdered sugar.

sel-19The Duck Confit Omelette ($16) is already becoming the most popular item, combining shredded duck confit and crumbled goat cheese in a surprisingly light combination. The tartness of the goat cheese with the floral notes of herbs de provence brings all of the elements together. If anything, the omelette could have used a touch more seasoning and flavor. In contrast to the omelette’s delicate flavors, the side salad was overpowered by sherry vinegar.

Local, accessible, and refined, Sel provides a special dining experience sans the highbrow pretensions. While the food may not blow you all the way to Lyon (la capitale gastronomique of France), it is straight-forward and prepared with care. Look forward to a visit, with a cocktail on the patio and wrapped in a cozy blanket.

Photos by Lia Lee

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