Tanglewood Grill is our go-to Gig Harbor restaurant when the family is hungry and can’t decide on anything else. Which is often. Their menu offers a wide variety of options and, for the most part, the food is fresh and flavorful.
At one point, we had quit coming here after one too many incidents of poor service and long waits for food that ended up being inedible. One of their specialties was a baked mac & cheese-type side dish, although I can’t recall the name of it because it’s mercifully no longer on the menu. The last time we ordered it, it tasted like it had been sitting around for several days before being microwaved because it had taken on flavors from other foods in the refrigerator. It still makes me nauseous to think about that last bite.
After a series of major problems like that, we wrote them off completely. Many months later we heard that some of those issues had been resolved. We tentatively gave them a few tries and were happy to see that it was true.
They could still improve on the speed that the kitchen turns out the food. Our last visit was a 30 minute wait for a soup & salad combo and a BLT in a virtually empty restaurant. The saving grace was that when the food showed up, it was beautifully plated and tasted wonderful. The long waits for food are not common anymore but they do happen so I hope they are working to improve that.
In the last few weeks, there has been a revamping of the menu. Gone are the old plastic-coated folding menus. They now have a paper menu of one page, front and back, that will be updated weekly. I love the streamlined look and will never miss those old ones. Have you ever been handed one anywhere that wasn’t sticky? Yuck.
I was sad to see the loss of my two favorite sandwiches, the Saigon Sammy and the Ham Stack. After a brief mourning period, I was able to see that many other favorites had made the cut and that the prices seem about the same.
They still have a wonderful BLT made with billionaire bacon, miles above the stale bacon crisped in a deep fryer that many restaurants try to pass off in their sandwiches. Most of their BBQ items are still intact. I think they have the best sweet potato fries in town and the sweet chili aioli they serve with them is sublime. Their burger selections have been slightly revamped and Southern corn muffins with honey butter have taken the place of the cast iron pan of cornbread on the appetizer menu.
They have added some items that I am looking forward to trying. There is a new Pike Place Fish Fry with cod, shrimp, Minterbrook oysters, or any combo of these. A tempting Carolina pulled pork sandwich infused with Coca-Cola BBQ sauce has shown up as well as some new side and entrée salad options. I have never tried a Po'Boy but I will soon. There is a shrimp or Minterbrook oyster Po'Boy sandwich that is begging to be ordered.
The food coming out of the kitchen in the last few weeks has looked like more care is taken with the preparation and plating. Even the servers seem to have a new energy. There is an upbeat vibe permeating the place that has been missing.
I don’t know if these changes are a response to the influx of new restaurants coming to the Harbor but if so, wise move. Tanglewood needs to distinguish themselves from the other restaurants in the area and the move to more upscale food is heading in the right direction.
There are a few other issues I would like to see the management address. The décor could really use an update. A few less dead animals perched everywhere would be nice. A couple of them here and there are OK given the theme of the place but, wow, overkill (pun intended.) Also, their dessert menu needs a complete overhaul. I would like to see them adopt one similar to that of their sister restaurant in Tacoma, Boathouse 19. Tanglewood’s dessert menu is stuck in the 80’s and at least a more modern take on these old standards would be great.
So if you have never tried Tanglewood or, like us, have given up on them, I urge you to give them a chance. If they can just keep up the new attitude and improved food quality, I see a bright future for them.
Like them on Facebook for updates on features and special events. Their Valentine’s Day menu looks incredible!