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Best of Tacoma 2013 Readers' Poll - Best Overall Restaurant: Marrow Kitchen and Bar

Approachable sophistication on Tacoma's Sixth Avenue

MARROW KITCHEN AND BAR: Chef Kyle Wnuk and co-owner Jaime Kay Jones offer high-end fare and new concepts on Tacoma's Sixth Avenue.Photo credit: Pat Snapp

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The people have spoken and cast their votes in the Best of Tacoma Readers' Poll for the title of Best Restaurant in Tacoma 2013. It comes as no surprise that this year's favorite, most loved and sought-after Best Restaurant winner is Marrow Kitchen and Bar, located at 2717 Sixth Ave. in Tacoma.

Diners flock from all over the South Sound and beyond to get a taste of co-owners Jaime Kay and Jason Jones and chef/co-owner Kyle Wnuk's food. Plate after plate, the inventive flavor profiles, unique ingredients and diverse menus put Marrow on par with some of the best restaurants in cities with serious gastronomic clout. Their thoughtful dishes are paired with excellent, balanced craft cocktails, some of the best in town.

Whether for brunch, dinner or cocktails, stepping into the sleek, minimalistic interior with an exposed light bulb chandelier speaks to what Jaime Kay calls the restaurant's "approachable sophistication". "The food's fancy, but we're not necessarily," she says.

What sets Marrow apart from other local eateries is their commitment to quality and delicious food for all. Their menus, which change seasonally, cater to vegans, vegetarians and carnivores alike.

"Our menu is seasonally focused, with nose-to-tail cookery, and everything is made in-house," says Jaime Kay. "We use quality ingredients largely sourced locally, and naturally-sourced meats such as those from Niman Ranch."

With the recent launch of their summer menu, dishes such as geoduck and corn fritters, curried goat risotto and ostrich and pork tenderloin meatloaf demonstrate the artistry of combining off-beat ingredients with unpretentious dishes so diners are able to veer a little bit out of their comfort zone, yet still have a familiar reference point.

"Because we're a unique concept for Tacoma with a creative menu and quality ingredients, we try to be part of people experiencing new foods and drinks," says Jaime Kay. "People have something they've never had, which creates an emotion tied to that experience."

There's no need to be intimidated by the sometimes unfamiliar-sounding ingredients on the menu. Marrow's staff takes a friendly and helpful approach to explaining dishes to inquisitive diners.

On recent visits, their nightly specials have proved as impressive as regular menu items, including a perfectly cooked black cod, dusted with locally made Libertine salts, and served over just-lemony-enough risotto.  The finesse and deft hand of the chef and kitchen staff are evident in each dish. Quinoa salad with a hint of heat is balanced with creamy avocado and corn for a delightful textural contrast. A grilled romaine salad with a slight smokiness wakes up your palate with chunks of blue cheese, fresh grapefruit and figs.

The fairly recent addition of Marrow's Sunday brunch, called "Breaking Bread," introduces diners to sweet and savory weekend dishes such as lobster claw Benedict, duck and pork sausage gravy served over a colossal biscuit and challah French toast, just to name a few. Their cheddar duck eggs are a creamy, luxurious bite that's like velvet on the tongue, and the perfectly crisp hash browns are skillfully seasoned. No matter how hung over or tired you might be, it is a meal you will not soon forget.

Also notable is their happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and 9 p.m. to close daily. It is a great time of day to swing by, relax with one of their 22 specialty craft cocktails and sample the lower-priced, but no less flavorful or inventive dishes.

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