Spend the Day in Awe: Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

nw-trekHop aboard a tram and take a narrated tour through forests and meadows teeming with American bison, Roosevelt elk, moose, bighorn sheep and woodland caribou. Stroll along forested and paved pathways past natural exhibits that are home to a grizzly bear, two American black bears, a cougar, Canada lynx, bobcats, wolves and foxes. Marvel at the antics of beavers and other wetland animals as they splash and explore a river area.

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park near Eatonville is first and foremost a place to see native Northwest animals and enjoy nature.

But it also has a very wild side for humans who want a bit of adventure. For an extra charge, visitors can test their mental and physical agility on the Zip Wild complex of thrilling zip line/challenge courses.

Plus, there’s the newly opened half-acre, nature-inspired playground for kids, from toddlers to tweens. The $1.9 million Kids’ Trek is a wonderland that combines a replica of a hollow tree with nets inside for climbing, a net staircase, three fabulous slides, a meandering stream and a toddler zone complete with a sand play area and more. A “construction zone” allows bigger kids to build forts and other imaginative structures. The playground encourages kids to explore nature and learn more about the world around them as they play. Admission to Kids’ Trek is included in each ticket to the wildlife park.

Northwest Trek recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and has long been a leader in the care and conservation of Northwest animals.

Seasoned visitors know that the best way to savor the wildlife park is to see it several times a year, appreciating the changing seasons and the life cycle of the animals. Spring, summer and early fall are great times to see bison, elk and caribou calves, deer fawns and bighorn sheep lambs as they grow.

Animals, adventure and a natural setting make Northwest Trek Wildlife Park a must-visit day trip. It’s an easy drive from anywhere in the Puget Sound area. When you enter the tree-lined drive, you just want to say “ahhhh,” slow down a bit and enjoy a day in nature.

KRIS SHERMAN
Northwest Trek Wildlife Park
11610 Trek Dr E, Eatonville
360.832.6117
nwtrek.org

Well-Presented Fresh Seafood at Red Wind

redwindAt Nisqually Red Wind Casino’s Seafood Restaurant guests enjoy the freshest catch in the Pacific Northwest, says Executive Chef Roberto Los Banos.

The restaurant has quickly gained popularity among sushi lovers, as well as fans of well-presented traditional seafood fare. Featured on the menu Thursday through Saturday, sushi now attracts a number of regular guests, according to Los Banos. “The response has been very gratifying. Frequent travelers have told us that—from New York to LA—this is the best sushi they’ve ever eaten. They see how much love—how much “aloha” —goes into every meal,” says Los Banos, a native Hawaiian.

“Aloha,” he explains, translates into carefully selecting food sources, applying expert cooking techniques and creating a first-class dining experience in a comfortable setting. Indeed, part of the restaurant’s appeal is the option to choose a quiet, cozy table or a seat at the seafood bar, where you can watch your food being prepared. “Guests at the seafood bar can ‘feel the heat,’” says Los Banos. “We keep them entertained and offer a unique opportunity to interact with our chefs. We field questions about our seasonings and recipes throughout the experience. You can watch how your plate is being built and the process of how it gets from the kitchen to the table.”

Another menu option that has grown in popularity is “Eventide.” This three-course meal is offered every Sunday through Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. Eventide includes the choice of a starter, entrée and dessert. According to Los Banos, this weekday special gives his team the opportunity to treat guests to a high-quality meal at a very reasonable cost.

While menu options and presentations have evolved over time, guests at the seafood restaurant can be sure one thing will never change, says Bob Darling, restaurant manager. “No matter what our chefs prepare, it’s never far from harvest to plate.” He adds that Northwest tribal fishermen provide the restaurant with the very best salmon and halibut. Produce is local and seasonal. Oysters and clams come from local shellfish farms, and foods not raised locally are carefully sourced from tribes throughout the United States.

Nisqually Red Wind Casino’s Seafood Restaurant is a fresh option with beautiful presentations and sushi that serves up the love in an unexpected package.

SALLY TERINN

Seafood Restaurant at Red Wind Casino
12819 Yelm Hwy SE, Olympia
866.946.2444
redwindcasino.com/dining/seafood-restaurant

Asado

asadoThe tango. Gaucho crafts. Soccer. Siestas. Argentina is rich in culture, but you need not hop on a plane to enjoy authentic Argentine fare. Located in the heart of the Tacoma’s Sixth Avenue business district, Asado boasts traditional cuisine from the South American country. Loosely translated, asado means “Argentine barbeque” and is a classic method for cooking meat on a grill or over an open fire.

A ceviche appetizer is generous enough for two. The tower of mildly sweet tilapia, prawns, and mild, firm sea bass is layered on pico de gallo and topped with creamy, refreshing guacamole. The seafood delicacy is accompanied by an Argentine staple, fried plantains, crunchy and lightly salted. Soft rolls are served with herbed, paprika tinted chimichurri butter.

Asado offers the most complete selection of Argentine wines in the Northwest. Malbec is the most widely planted red grape variety, followed by Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Tempranillo. The influence of Italian immigrants has added a variety of Italian varietals to the vineyards.

Asado’s beef is all natural Black Angus and steaks are masterfully grilled over imported mesquite wood. Espalda Asado (flat iron steak) is presented over sweet roasted corn polenta finished with a hint of mild poblano chile. Al dente calabasita (butternut squash) gnocchi is served in a rich brown butter sauce, blended with macadamia nuts, wild mushrooms, julienned zucchini and slivered garlic cloves; it is a reflection of the Italian influence on the Argentine diet. Pita Puerco (pork chop stuffed with chorizo, cranberries, golden raisins, almonds, apples, and fennel) and Garron de Cordero (seared boneless chicken breast, caperberry, white wine lemon pan sauce, wilted arugula, and cherry tomatoes) are other entrees to be savored.

Asado offers the fabulous flavors of Argentina using the freshest ingredients from the Northwest and beyond. Attention to quality, presentation and service makes it one of a kind. For a satisfying meat-loving experience, give Asado a try.

MARY MORGAN

Asado
2810 6th Ave, Tacoma
253.272.7770
asadotacoma.com

Indochine Propels its Upscale Thai Food Experience

indochineWalk into the beautiful dining room of this classic Thai restaurant in Tacoma’s Museum District and the experience is both grand and intimate. Polished wood, fresh orchids, and warm, natural textures are highlighted throughout the open, yet cozy restaurant space.

But what you’re really here for is the food: a wonderful blend of authentic Thai flavors toned down and fused with Indian, Chinese, Japanese and American ideas.

The sophisticated and stylish restaurant is actually an extension of a simple local Thai diner that opened in Federal Way in 1995. A decade later, owners Russel Brunton and Ly Ngov launched their downtown Tacoma restaurant and lounge, on property owned by the University of Washington Tacoma.

What emerged is what Brunton describes as “Asian minimalist.” The most prominent feature is a chuckling, fountain-fed pond flowing from a luminous glass bowl and lined with gleaming wooden bench tables. The expansive restaurant has a seating capacity of roughly 200, but more private side sections also stand out. Intimate booths foster close-set, canoodling romance. The back tatami room provides quiet privacy. A platform pavilion, with elevated dining beneath gauzy peach-colored curtains, encourages conversation in an atmosphere of grace and warmth. Finally, a behind-the-bar event space provides a fresh blend of energy and Zen vibe.

On the menu, there’s a lot that’s new for this season, along with yet another seating option. You’ll want to take advantage of sunny weather by enjoying the new sidewalk seating along Tacoma’s Pacific Avenue.

Go-to Thai choices include curry, rice and noodle combinations and house specials. Familiar pan-Asian items that will satisfy include—well, anything.

If you’re craving Thai, you can’t go wrong with the spicy Siamese noodles, which blend a flavorful basil-ginger sauce with thick, pan-fried noodles and beef, chicken, prawns or tofu.

Gang curry brings to the table a plate of thick, coconut-creamy garlic- and chili-tinged gravy simmered over vegetables, with a splash of lime and lemongrass.

Seeking seafood? Everything is top-notch. If you can’t decide, the honey walnut prawns have the perfect blend of sweet, crunchy and savory. Then there’s the paella-style Black Sea, with black Thai rice, sweet kala masala, and a snappy mix of scallops, calamari, crab and fresh prawns.

There’s a quick-read wine and beer list too. New options include the very popular Drunken Buddha, the coconut martini and a host of local brews right on tap. New for this year is the lunch menu, with slightly smaller-than-dinner portions at one-third of the dinner prices. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are always available.

Top off any Indochine Asian fare with the surprising homemade gelato, and you’re all set.

HOLLY SMITH PETERSON

Indochine Asian Dining Lounge
1924 Pacific Ave, Tacoma
253.272.8200
indochinedowntown.com

Crockett’s Public House Gears up for Drive-Through

crockettsIt may have been Crockett’s Public House, a chill-out, family-friendly American pub-style eatery, that kicked off the restaurant scene in downtown Puyallup. So says owner Shaun Broback, who also owns the popular Trackside Pizza. Like that local dining industry winner, Crockett’s has been a firestorm success from the get-go.

Sliding out savvy cocktails and tap beers, not to mention luscious complementary American fare, Crockett’s has seen such demand that it’s launching its premier drive-through this fall, with a shortened menu of its delicious sit-down offerings.

Set in a former historic feed store, Crockett’s has been a hit since its beginnings in 2011—so much so that high-voltage chef Guy Fieri featured the innovative gastropub on his Food Network smash Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

That really stoked Broback. He said Crockett’s has been very well received by the community, which he characterizes as both unique and a great market that’s undervalued.

New items on the menu this year include what the servers say is most popular: the tuna melt, built on chewy, Parmesan-crusted sourdough bread and slathered with melted Gruyère cheese.

Standards like the chili burger and crisp-fried, onion-topped Mom’s Sloppy Joe, however, continue to fight for first-place rank in customer orders. So do breakfasts, served to crowds on weekends only, from 8 a.m. to noon.

The four-page drink menu has been completely revamped as well. That’s a particular draw, as the gastropub offers $5 happy hour drink specials weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m. and all day Sunday.

Other unique menu items include fire-grilled artichokes with Calabrian aioli, a thick-cut BLT with chips, hearty chicken and waffles with maple syrup and Louisiana hot sauce, Asian chicken salad, seafood chowder, and the famous Public House meatballs, sprinkled liberally with Parmesan and pistachios.

If you want to kick back and enjoy a variety of terrific pub fare, invite family and friends to join you in the relaxing ambiance of Crockett’s pub-style setting, complete with exposed brick walls, cheery servers, light shining through big windows, stained-glass accents and lots of buzz.

Or, if you’re in a hurry, just speed through the drive-through. Either route is an equally satisfying experience.

HOLLY SMITH PETERSON

Crockett’s Public House
118 East Stewart Ave, Puyallup
253.466.3075
crockettspublichouse.com

Pacific Northwest Eye Associates: High-Touch Vision Care Services

pacific-nw-eyePacific Northwest Eye Associates was voted Best for 2016 for a high-quality and high-touch vision care experience in the South Puget Sound, with the convenience of two office locations. Formed in 1995 by experienced ophthalmologists Dr. Ted Baer, Dr. Richard Bowe and Dr. John Goodin, the group maintained a busy practice on South Cedar Street in Tacoma before building a modern 20,000-square-foot facility at the corner of Union Avenue and South 19th Street in 2011. Later the practice expanded to Gig Harbor.

Pacific Northwest Eye Associates provides South Sound families with the latest in comprehensive and specialty eye care, from standard eye exams and optometry to treatment for conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma.

According to Geoff Charlton, chief operating officer, the doctors and staff of Pacific Northwest Eye are dedicated to providing skilled, compassionate vision care to residents of the communities they serve. In each facility they strive to treat each patient as an individual, recognizing their unique needs and concerns. They are also proud to serve a diverse population, offering language interpretation in their offices for up to 12 languages.

“Creating a positive, high-touch experience to each person who visits is really an art,” says Charlton. “It is what our staff does on a daily basis. We do follow-up reviews on every visit and are proud that 95% percent of our visitors say our staff are warm and welcoming and provide personal service. The staff here sees it as a calling to do what we do.”

LEAH GROUT

Pacific Northwest Eye Associates
3602 South 19th St, Tacoma
253.759.5555
4700 Pt. Fosdick Drive NW, Gig Harbor
253.858.5186
pnweye.com

Service and Convenience at the Heart of Light Dental Studios

light-dentalWe can all agree on the ultimate qualities for a dental provider: round-the-clock service, free consultations, same-day appointments, entire family bookings, empathetic service and affordable care. It’s nearly impossible to find a full combination of such attributes. But then there’s Light Dental Studios.

Based in Puyallup and dentist-owned – with seven locations, 18 dentists and more than 80 employees in the South Puget Sound —the company has customer service at the core of its mission.

“We try to treat people the way we would want to be treated,” says owner and principal Dr. Steven Broughton, who bought his first office from a former dentist in Puyallup in 1997. “People say our practice feels like we’re all neighbors, like they’re just going down the street for friendly dental care.”

With hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., including Saturdays, doctors available 24/7, free consultations, same-day appointments and entire-family same-day care, Light Dental Studios has the solutions patients need.

Explains Broughton, “We’re trying to make dentistry effortless by making it about our patients, not the dentists. Our schedule accommodates their schedule, not the other way around. Our doctors are always available, and almost all procedures are done in-house.”

Besides standard dental checkups, treatments and other services, Light Dental Studios offers on-site orthodontics, implants, surgeries and dentures. Children’s dental care is also offered, and the offices frequently schedule care for entire families side by side on the same day to save time.

Then there’s the annual South Sound Free Dental Day, when the staff donates its time and skills to give away more than $50,000 worth of dental work—including fillings, extractions and dentures—on a first come, first-served basis. “We want patients to feel comfortable,” Broughton says. “Our first goal is to provide same-day treatment.”

Broughton says that Light Dental Studios will add several locations in the next two years in growing family locations. His take on the increasing growth of his practice: “Our patients tell us they enjoy the convenience of the offices being open year-round with evening and Saturday hours and the ability to provide dentistry on the same day.”

HOLLY SMITH PETERSON

Light Dental Studios
7 locations in the South Sound
lightdentalstudios.com

Capital Medical Center Set to Expand Surgical Department

capital-medicalCapital Medical Center on Olympia’s west side is undergoing a $16.3 million expansion and renovation of its surgical department to better serve patients. When the project is completed in the summer of 2017, the medical center will have five brand-new, state-of-the-art surgical suites and two completely remodeled suites.

The new operating suites will be larger to accommodate the array of medical equipment and technology used during surgeries. Physicians and staff will also have more space to work when doing procedures that require different positioning, such as hip replacements.

Capital Medical has already installed new technology in anticipation of its expansion and remodel. An example is the Mazor Robotics Renaissance. This robotic-guided spine surgery system allows orthopedic spine surgeons and neurosurgeons to plan the optimal surgery in a CT-based 3-D simulation of a patient’s spine. During surgery, Renaissance guides the surgeon’s hand and tools to the precise planned location.

Renaissance has been clinically validated to ensure accuracy of up to 1.5 mm for increased patient safety. Compared with freehand spine surgery, this translates to the best possible clinical results for patients, with less use of fluoroscopy. Minimally invasive surgery can mean smaller incisions, shorter hospitalizations, less pain and faster recovery for patients. Capital Medical Center is currently the only hospital in Washington offering robotic-guided spine surgery.

Capital’s expansion project will expand the footprint of the medical center by approximately 10,000 square feet. As part of the renovation, pre-op and recovery areas will also be improved to provide greater comfort for patients. A larger and more accessible waiting area for family and friends will be created, and behind-the-scenes spaces, including the sterilization room and locker rooms, will be made more functional.

In a sign of the hospital’s excellence in joint replacement and spine surgery, The Joint Commission, the nation’s leading health care accreditation organization, has awarded its Gold Seal of Approval—one of the first in the state—to Capital’s Joint & Spine Center. This means its programs have undergone rigorous clinical review, and that patients can expect a high level of care when undergoing these surgical procedures.

LEAH GROUT

Capital Medical Center
3900 Capital Mall Dr SW, Olympia
360.754.5858
capitalmedical.com

Northlight Interiors – Style Makers

northlight-interiorsAnyone who has ever set out to redecorate knows what a struggle it can be. Whether it is one room or an entire home, the challenge can be overwhelming. With so many choices, colors and fabrics, it can be difficult to know where to begin. For local Pacific Northwest designers Juleen Pudists and Christine Kern, helping clients turn dreams into reality is what makes every project a unique adventure.

“Every project is led by the client’s hopes,” says Pudists. “Inspiration might come from a piece of art, their favorite color or the environment, like the beach or the mountains.”

Clients benefit from the two designers’ diverse backgrounds. Both highly creative with a love for architecture, they have experience with their own design projects and are skilled in both residential remodels and commercial projects throughout the Northwest. Working with contractors and homeowners alike, Pudists and Kern have a healthy respect for both sides of the building industry.

The design duo focuses on delivering peace of mind, which extends to the type of products sold in their showroom in Sumner. “We don’t allow anything in the store that we would not want to take home with us,” says Pudists. They carry a number of items made exclusively in the U.S. and also items that are good for the home and the environment, such as clean-burning candles.

With a long list of satisfied clients and more in the works, this team is making serious style happen in the local design arena.

Stop by the showroom in Sumner or check them out online.

ANDREA LERUM

Northlight Interiors
1107 Main St, Sumner
253.826.0339
northlightinteriors.com

Business is Blooming at Blitz & Co Florist

blitz-and-co
Great staff, years of experience, and a creative team that works well together—the secret to three decades of success for Tacoma’s Blitz & Co Florist.

Give the team an idea or a blank slate, says Blitz & Co owner Steve Barbazette, and all of a sudden, they’re creating something beautiful. “Not everyone can do that—see things in their head and make it come to life.” Many clients are looking for inspiration, he says. At Blitz, “a conglomeration of years of experience and experiences comes up with great ideas.”

Founder Marilyn Blitz started the business as a downtown setup of buckets of fresh flowers in an alley. In 1999, then under the new ownership and stewardship of Barbazette, Blitz & Co moved to its current location on a lively stretch of Pacific Avenue.

“It’s a nice town, with good clients,” says Barbazette. “Being around so long, you know the suppliers—the fresh flowers and the sources to get the right stuff. It helps a lot to get the freshest.”

Besides offering a large inventory of fresh flowers for traditional or contemporary arrangements, Blitz & Co specializes in tropical and other plants, European dish gardens, high-style floral arrangements, silk and dried arrangements, and wedding and funeral designs. And at Blitz, there’s more to gift-giving than flowers. The shop also carries an extensive gift selection, fruit and gourmet baskets, gift baskets, greeting cards and candles.

Blitz & Co boasts a diverse clientele, including wedding parties, both small and large; businesses and corporate events; hospitals and retirement communities. Diversity keeps the business flowing, says Barbazette. “It’s a fun business to be in, but it’s also one of the hardest. People say it’s one of the easiest to start, and one of the easiest to fail as well. Many think they can do it, but it’s a tough business.”

A tough business done beautifully by Blitz & Co Florist.

EMILY HAPPY

Blitz & Co Florist
909 Pacific Ave, Tacoma
253.777.3596
blitzflorist.com