TNT Diner

Popular Tacoma brunch spot now invites you to lunch. The ‘fishless’ sandwich is tasty

Chef Mike Parker presses tofu for two days to create this “fishless” sandwich for Honey at Alma Mater’s new lunch menu.
Chef Mike Parker presses tofu for two days to create this “fishless” sandwich for Honey at Alma Mater’s new lunch menu. ksherred@thenewstribune.com

Not even the chef wants to eat eggs after noon.

Mike Parker, who joined Honey Kitchen before its March 2018 opening, hopes his new lunch menu satiates both customers who love the brunch and those looking for lunch.

The counter-service restaurant inside Alma Mater at 1322 S. Fawcett Ave. neighbors plenty of offices, including the Department of Health and Social Services and several law firms, but business petered out after a while, Parker said.

“I just think they kind of got sick of having breakfast,” he joked.

In the last two hours of service, other guests seemed to gravitate toward one item on the short-but-sweet menu: salad.

Ask and you shall receive.

“We’re trying to keep it balanced and appeal to both ends of the spectrum,” Parker told The News Tribune of his new lunch menu. It’s now available Monday through Friday, alongside its standard brunch menu.

Because Honey serves dinner on weekends, this new combo menu is known as the “day menu.”

There are three sandwiches and two mac and cheese dishes, including two vegan options. In fact, nearly half of the lunch menu’s dishes are vegetarian.

A quinoa salad comes tossed with an apple or lemon vinaigrette with cucumbers, red onions and broccoli. The hummus platter — “healthy but filling at the same time,” said Parker — swaps chickpeas for celery root, rutabaga and turnip to be scooped by pitas, carrots, bell peppers and cucumbers.

The cafe has developed a following for its vegan options, embraced by vegans and non-vegans alike: Three weeks in, according to Parker, the “fishless” sandwich has been one of the most popular choices.

I fell for it, too, and if you haven’t noticed, I’m not a vegan.

Parker presses furikake tofu for two days to flatten it, then salts and bathes it in a Rainier beer batter. The deep-fried slices create a satisfying, if un-flaky, “fish,” served with a zippy vegan tartar sauce and micro-cabbage.

Mine came on a disappointingly dry potato bun, but it turns out the chef has already switched to slices of Italian bread from the recently opened Tacoma Baking Company. He said the bun didn’t hold the goods inside the sandwich, which was my experience, and the new loaf is “frigging awesome.”

Honey’s pastries — like the glazed and orange-speckled cornetto, a denser, sweeter Italian version of a croissant — currently come from local Corina Bakery and Spilled Butter Desserts. Parker anticipates adding more from the new Hilltop bakery when they accept larger wholesale orders.

Elsewhere in sandwich land, Honey offers a Ham and Beechers sandwich dolled up with Dijon aioli and arugula, plus a garlicky chicken melt with Swiss cheese and mixed greens.

For the chef, lunch means a hiatus from eggs all day and the opportunity to harness his experience from kitchens like 1111 Peterson Bros. and The Valley.

“I’ve made it my mission to elevate stuff like that,” said Parker. Let’s call it “half-lunch, half-brunch.”

Honey at Alma Mater

1322 Fawcett Avenue, 253-507-7289, almamatertacoma.com

Lunch: Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Kristine Sherred joined The News Tribune in December 2019. She spent the past decade immersed in the culinary scene of Chicago and, for a time, covered the global chocolate and snacks industries. An avid home cook and beer/cocktail pro, she now explores all things edible and sippable throughout Pierce County. Reach her also at @kriscarasher on Twitter.
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