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Aviateur Review: French food worthy of a glorious space

Tacoma restaurant just needs more drink options and more customers

Treat yourself to Les Croques at Aviateur Parisian Diner in Tacoma. Photo credit: Jackie fender

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Though Tacoma is brimming with a diverse selection of dining options, some international fare is seemingly void from the culinary scene. One such country whose culinary reputation boasts some of the most well known chefs and sought after flavors may still be underrepresented but not missing all together thanks to Aviateur Parisian Diner.

Aviateur opened its doors quietly a month ago in the lovely space that most recently housed Mediterranean digs Zara, and before that the Sea Grill, though the space has remained empty for long stretches of time in-between new concepts. The ambiance is essentially the same as Zara highlighting an upscale atmosphere with warm and understated tones and a cool circular bar featuring a wonderful view of the Pac Avenue and 15th Street intersection.

This is not the first of owner Bertrand Young's dining establishments, as he owns intimate French bistro, La Crème Brulee in Steilacoom.

The Aviateur menu features mid to high range plates from $15-$32 including dishes those unfamiliar with French cuisine would expect like escargot, beef bourguignon and soon crepes that will be included on the happy hour menu.

Upon my visit it was happy hour, so naturally I anted up to the bar with head bartender Robin Boireau. Yes, he's French, too, which added to the novelty of a French restaurant in Tacoma thanks to the accent eloquently delivering monikers of authentic dishes. The happy hour menu features $6, $11 and $14 plates from small shareable nibbles to more filling meal types. The Les Croques is a French staple featuring ham, the creamy white condiment Béchamel sauce and Swiss cheese on a delightfully tasty croissant, delivering a flavorful, matrimony that was like biting into a pillow. A pillow made out of delicious food. Served with a light and simple side salad with a creamy dressing presenting a zesty pop of flavor with each bite. 

The bread pudding ($6) was moist and rich served with a scoop of coffee-flavored ice cream that complemented the bread pudding to perfection. The only unfortunate trait about this sandwich and dessert duo was the cocktail menu options to pair with it. Most cocktails at Aviateur are sophomoric at best featuring syrupy sweet "martinis" and not a lot of selection booze wise, which is perfect for those with less refined tastes. Or perhaps I'm a bit of a snob.

Young tells me that weekend dinner crowds have been aplenty though the weekdays still remain a bit peaceful around the restaurant. From what I can tell during my happy hour visit, weekdays may due to two issues. First, from the outside, the space resembles the neighboring credit union as they share a corner entrance, and Aviateur's upper entrance is tucked away. Second, bartender Boireau says ownership is banking on an old school marketing tool called word-of-mouth rather than advertising and pumping social media, which likely amplifies the sly, ninja-like opening of the establishment. When the word does get out, Aviateur could become a beloved restaurant.

AVIATEUR FRENCH DINER, open for lunch and dinner service Tuesday through Saturday, 1498 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.573.9000

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