arts

New Spring Menus and Meet the Chefs!

Chef Mike Parker of Honey strikes a pose!

Chef Mike Parker of Honey strikes a pose!

Tapsilog, Filipino tapa sirloin steak, fried chicken egg, fresh cucumber and cherry tomatoes with garlic fried rice. A new spring dish!

Tapsilog, Filipino tapa sirloin steak, fried chicken egg, fresh cucumber and cherry tomatoes with garlic fried rice. A new spring dish!

Chef Roger Weatherhead of Matriarch Lounge.

Chef Roger Weatherhead of Matriarch Lounge.

Tagliatelle with asparagus, pine nut butter sauce, black garlic, and pecorino.

Tagliatelle with asparagus, pine nut butter sauce, black garlic, and pecorino.

Spring is in full force around around Alma Mater. We’ve spotted the bunny that lives in our parking-lot-turned-green-space and and the red clover in front of the building has bloomed in a vibrant display of crimson. The bees are hovering around the wildflowers on the roof and we’re all savoring the warmth of the sun showing its face here and there. As spring hits its stride, we’re embracing its fruits with new menus!

Honey, our coffee shop and brunch cafe, has some exciting flavors rounding out the spring menu. There’s a monster breakfast burrito with all the fixings (with a vegan option!), house-made breakfast sausage hash, and a fresh, seasonal berry dutch baby for your sweet tooth. On the coffee and beverage side of things, there’s some new, bright flavors for your latte or cold drink. Did you know we make all our latte syrups in-house? Jena Stedtler, Honey’s leading coffee wizard and FOH extraordinaire, tests and re-tests recipes until she finds the right flavor profile. New spring syrup flavors include hazelnut and lavender (lavender cold brew, anyone?) and Honey now has matcha!

As in all spaces around Alma Mater, creativity and expression are paramount in our kitchen. Our chefs have tirelessly worked to prepare menus that speak to the seasons and offer a glimpse into their personal story. If you’ve enjoyed a thoughtfully delicious meal at Alma Mater, you have our two chefs (and their staff) to appreciate. Let’s meet them!

Honey’s brunch and dinner night menu is helmed by Mike Parker, an Arkansas farm boy who made his way to Tacoma many years ago. He used to watch his grandma cook in Arkansas where everyone gathered around food. He started out peeling potatoes for grandma and eventually learned enough to make his brother food when his mom wasn’t home. Soon he developed a fire within himself to make the best casserole anyone had ever tasted to bring to the constant communal potlucks of the South. He hopes this story comes through in the food you try in Honey. There’s a definite lean to Southern comfort food while drawing influence from international cuisine. We asked Mike what dish this season he’s most excited about and here’s what he said:

-Tapsilog- Filipino tapa sirloin steak, fried chicken egg, fresh cucumber and cherry tomatoes with garlic fried rice

-Vegan Wet Burrito- Vegan chorizo, potatoes, pepper mix, vegan eggs, pinto bean purée, salsa verde, avocado, pico de gallo and vegan crema

You can try these dishes NOW through mid-summer when new seasonal flavors evolve once again.

On the night side of things, Matriarch Lounge offers seasonal craft cocktails and small and entree size dinner fare. Megan Henson, Matriarch’s cocktail guru, included a magical drink called Signed with Love on the spring menu. It has mezcal, apricot liqueur, and cocci americano. Other drinks on the new menu feature a housemate kiwi cordial and even a house-made cereal milk. Happy hour has also expanded for spring and now offers discounted drinks in addition to small plates. Be sure to try the house tonic made with hibiscus and lemongrass! New food menu items include a beautiful spring crudite of cucumber, radish, beet, peas, greens, egg with a sesame vinaigrette. Another decadent meal to try is the tagliatelle with asparagus, pine nut butter sauce, black garlic, and pecorino. So delicious. Hot tip: don’t skip dessert.

In Matriarch’s kitchen, a new chef is steering the kitchen to carefully balanced flavors that allow the ingredients to speak for themselves. Roger Weatherhead brings a soul-filled story to the kitchen of Alma Mater.

Roger’s grandma owned a greasy spoon diner and he fondly remembers being stowed away in the manager’s office in his playpen there. The memories of the diner culminated to a fresh perspective on his childhood culinary experience when he caught an episode of “Great Chefs of the West, Great Chefs of the World.” That exposure to the refined version of the joy and love of cooking forever changed his outlook on the possibilties that existed in the culinary world. From then on, he started his career as a dishwasher, food truck chef, Point Defiance Zoo chef, sous chef at various hotels and some of Seattle’s great restaurants like Tilth and Art of the Table and ultimately to executive chef.

Chef Roger’s culinary vibe is interpretive and he loves to let ingredients sing. The New American palate is his powerhouse where bold flavor isn’t a stranger while the taste of fresh, responsibly sourced, seasonal ingredients are allowed to bloom.

We asked Roger what ingredients or favors he’s most excited about for spring and here’s what he said:

-Key City wild, troll caught salmon

-Brassicas- cauliflower and romanesco

-Fresh berries-strawberry and blueberry

Both spring menus are out now! Visit almamatertacoma.com to view full menus. Don’t forget that any purchase made at Alma Mater supports arts and community programming in our building. Happy Spring!