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Firing up a lovely mood

Dining next to a fireplace

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Fire sets a mood.  Back in the ’70s, that mood was all about lying on a bearskin rug with Courvoisier in a brandy snifter, listening to Peaches and Herb, although there were the other hip individuals who had avocado green freestanding fireplaces that screamed out for Lancers wine, shag carpeting and ABBA.

While there are hints of the ’70s aesthetic in the resurgence of fireplace dining and drinking options around Tacoma today, the disco era seems long forgotten as the overlying mood is that of warmth, comfort, and the ambience fire creates. Occasionally, that ambience recalls the ’70s, but we’ll get there as the Weekly Volcano takes you on a magical carpet ride through some of our favorite fire owning dining spots in the area.

Fire as entry focal point seems to be a restaurant favorite locally.  It seems to state, “Come on in, warm yourself by the fire and enjoy the hospitality we’ll offer you!”

At Captain Nemo’s the architecture has the feel of the ABBA-tinged ’70s while the sunken entry place will have you humming “reunited, and it feels so good” as you wait for a seat in the dining room. Authenticity is key at this entry area fire.

One of the best entry fires, if you’re looking for the ski lodge feeling, can be found at C.I. Shenanigans. John Monreal, who brought Club Rio to Tacoma in the early ’90s and hopes to shake up the entertainment scene of the present, says of the fireplace, “It’s warm and inviting; it brings you in from out of the cold.” As you warm yourself, approach the hostess, and then get seated for your meal or saunter back for your drink — The mood has been set.

Similarly, the mood is set at Stanley and Seafort’s and The Melting Pot. At the former, fire works the same way it does at Shenanigans though ever so slightly less impressively.  But while Shenanigans boasts an impressive waterfront view, Stanley and Seafort’s takes that view and raises it with a full-city panorama that makes you say, fire? What fire?

At the Melting Pot, the mood is set by the dominant focal point of the fireplace. As you’re seated, the fire fades, and a heated element heats your fondue; still, the warmth stays with you.

Bringing back the primal element to the dining experience, The Rock Wood Fired Pizza and Primo Grill allow you to watch your food being prepared the way the cavemen intended it to be: over open fire.

At Primo Grill, a wood-fired oven sits ready to cook pizzas while a grill sits over a second fire.  On this grill, peppers heat, meat sizzles, and diners Jesse and MacKenzie Allen watch the show as chefs create meals using the most unpredictable of cooking sources. The Allens frequent the fireside dining at Primo Grill not just for its romantic ambience and heat, but for the artistry of the chefs.  As mesmerizing as the fire is, watching the chefs work is more so; it feels like an unscripted reality show with atmosphere and heat.

At The Rock, the gourmet pizzas come out with that smoky flavor Domino’s just can’t touch — and gourmet combinations Domino’s wouldn’t dare.  As patrons get toasty, cocktails enable them to get toasted, and dining and drinking by the fire mesh as the same experience.

Farelli’s also has fire-cooked pizza with toasty mojo happening, and the ambience there includes a fireplace in the bar as well.  As the location of this secondary fire happens to be right by the pool table, more attention is paid to fun and games than the antics of the gas-lit fire as it twists and dances. Still, cooks on the line receive their share of attention.

At Joeseppi’s, hidden in a strip mall off of Pearl Street, the four-top table sitting in front of the fire seems to see more than its share of patrons enjoying food, not fire. On a recent visit a fellow diner entered the restaurant and joined his group at the fireside table, muttering, “ugh, it’s COLD outside!” His friends suggested, “Hey, go sit by the fire and get warm!”

“Nah, it’ll get too hot in a bit.”

My own dining partner muttered the same response as the two of us sat next to the fire at Matador.  Eerily reminiscent of the olive green freestanding fireplaces of the ’70s, the grey-metal open-style fire sits in the middle of the space, between the bar and the dining area.  The fire itself creates warmth and intimacy though this can be a double-edged sword. I don’t think the man or I wanted to know about the financial wheelings and dealings of the three individuals sitting next to us; it was disconcerting, and we both began to sweat. We went home, lit a Duraflame, didn’t listen to Peaches and Herb or ABBA, and had a lovely evening nonetheless.

Consider “fire” a success.

[Captain Nemo’s, 4020 Bridgeport Way W., University Place, 253.564.6460]
[C.I. Shenanigans, 3017 Ruston Way, Tacoma, 253.752.8811]
[Stanley and Seafort’s, 115 E. 34th, Tacoma, 253.473.7300]
[The Melting Pot, 2121 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.535.3939]
[The Rock Wood Fired Pizza, 1920 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma, 253.627.7625]
[Primo Grill, 601 S Pine, Tacoma, 253.383.7000]
[Farrelli’s Gourmet Wood Fire Pizza, 3518 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.759.1999. Also locations in DuPont, Lacey and Sumner]
[Joeseppi’s, 2207 N. Pearl St., Tacoma, 253.761.5555]
[Matador, 721 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.627.7100]

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KV said on Feb. 01, 2009 at 10:47pm

The Hotel Murano has a beautiful fireplace inside the lobby, come in for a nightcap

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