Lunch Bunch: The Gateway Cottage

Gateway Cottage

146th Pacific Ave
Spanaway, WA 98444
(253) 536–8100

Friday was our monthly Lunch Bunch outing. This time we went to a local favorite, the Gateway Cottage Restaurant & Lounge, located not far from Pacific Lutheran University. This restaurant is so popular with local folks that a waiting list formed for the trip, limited to 20 by the size of our bus.

Probably the restaurant’s popularity with local folks arises from its historical provenance. In 1890 retired U.S. military officer Captain Ludlow and his wife established the 80-acre homestead of Orchard Hill. Years later, George and Amy Jensen purchased 10 acres of Orchard Hill. In addition to expanding the Ludlow home, the Jensens built a guest cottage on the property, which was known as the Tacoma Silver Fox Farm in the 1920s and 1930s.

The Gateway Cottage restaurant opened in 2000, after owner Lynda Hogan spent two years renovating the dilapidated cottage. She filled the remodeled cottage with artwork she had collected while working at Corinthian Studios, an antiques store in downtown Tacoma that’s now closed. The artwork and furniture give the interior a comfortable, homey feeling.

Gateway Cottage interior
Gateway Cottage interior

(Click on images to see a larger version.)

The exterior courtyard garden, with its large trees, is also inviting. Gateway Cottage often hosts PLU graduation parties and other events there.

Gateway Cottage: Back
Gateway Cottage: Back

Hogan and her ex-husband, Walter Hogan, started one of Tacoma’s best known restaurants, Stanley & Seafort’s, in the early 1970s. They owned it for about five years before selling it to Restaurants Unlimited.

Gateway Cottage is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday and dinner on Saturday. Friday’s lunch menu featured lots of salads, sandwiches, and soups. The couple next to us both had Reuben sandwiches, which were so generously stuffed that each took home a half sandwich for Saturday’s lunch. My husband and I had the sirloin steak, which was cooked medium-rare, just as we had both ordered it. The accompanying vegetables—fresh yellow and zucchini squash, yellow peppers, and broccoli—were tasty, as was the creamy seafood chowder.

I always marvel at how well restaurant servers handle our luncheon groups, which require lots of separate checks for couples and singles. Our group this Friday was particularly large, yet the service was good and our waitress handled the many separate checks with grace.

I’m looking forward to going back to Gateway Cottage some evening to check out its dinner menu.

A Google search reveals that Gateway Cottage has received the following ratings (all on a five-star scale):

  • Google reviews: 4.3
  • Yelp: 3.5
  • Trip Advisor: 4.5
  • Facebook: 4.3
  • Yahoo: 5

Lunch Bunch: C.I. Shenanigans

3017 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98402
Phone: (253) 752 – 8811

The first Friday of every month our activities director at Franke Tobey Jones offers us the opportunity to go out for lunch. Today’s destination was C.I. Shenanigans, on beautiful Ruston Way. Shenanigans advertises that it features sustainable seafood, Harris Ranch beef “from cattle that spend approximately 80% of their lives grazing on grass,” and artisanal cocktails.

I can vouch for the cocktails. My Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger beer, and a splash of lime) was delicious. There were five people at our table. I had a cup of their lobster bisque, which turned out to be delicious. My husband ordered the crab-stuffed mushrooms and pronounced them quite good as well.

For our main courses, the gentleman who ordered mac and cheese said that it was too dry. Two women liked their salads, which were generously sized. My husband and I both had Columbia River King Salmon, “simply grilled,” which was cooked through but not dry. Our vegetables—green beans, wax (yellow) beans, and broccoli—were also good, not overcooked.

Our only complaint was that it took a LONG time to get the food. We had a group of 20, so it’s understandable that we might have put a strain on the staff. But our activities director always lets restaurants know well ahead of time how many people will be coming, so I’m disappointed if an establishment doesn’t prepare adequately for us. My husband and I have eaten at Shenanigans a couple of times on our own, and I don’t remember the service being particularly slow.

I see that Shenanigans gets three out of five stars on Yelp, 3.5 stars on Trip Advisor, and 4 stars on Open Table and Facebook.

Ruston Way hosts a huge crowd every Fourth of July. Early in the day the road is closed to traffic, and people pack the place. On our way to and from the restaurant we saw city workers setting up out rows and rows of blue portable toilets all along Ruston Way to accommodate tomorrow’s crowd. They were also setting out many huge plastic trash receptacles. We’ve never gone down on the Fourth because it’s just too crowded. And tomorrow’s high temperature will be about 88 degrees. So we’ll stay home tomorrow and let all those other people enjoy the day along Commencement Bay’s beautiful Ruston Way.

Mandolin Sushi & Steak House

My husband F. and I are regular participants in the Lunch Bunch, a monthly bus trip to a local restaurant offered by our retirement community. This past Friday we went to the Mandolin Sushi & Steak House:

3923 S. 12th Street
Tacoma, WA 98405
253–301–4969

There were about 15 of us, just the right size party for the separate room in the back, where the hostess seated us.

This restaurant offers many different kinds of food. F. and I went for our usual, steak and shrimp cooked at the table habachi-style.

Some of our friends ordered sushi, which arrived in a dramatic presentation:

Sushi in a boat
Sushi in a boat

I don’t claim to be an experienced food critic, but we liked what we had. Discussion on the bus on the way home suggested that most of the others had enjoyed their food as well. The restaurant has overall good reviews on yelp.

We were all impressed with the service. Our group consisted of couples and some individuals, which meant a lot of separate checks. Our waitress did a fantastic job of keeping all the orders straight, even at the end with all those separate checks and credit cards.