Tulalip Resort Casino’s new Italian steakhouse serves fresh, affordable dishes in fun, inviting atmosphere

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

A few short years ago, the Tulalip Resort Casino (TRC) released a number of renovation plans to update the venues, restaurants, resort rooms and gift shops to a more modern design. Since then, Club Impulse has been replaced by the Draft Sports Bar and Grill, a consolidation of two gift shops led to the opening of Journey’s East, and the relocation of the poker room provided the space for the popular pizza joint, Blazing Paddles. The resort rooms have received makeovers featuring beautiful Tulalip artwork in each room, and a new lounge welcomes resort guests as they arrive from a long day of travel. TRC’s latest endeavor, however, might be its biggest change yet, transforming their highly-popular and extravagant fine-dining restaurant, Tulalip Bay, into an urban eatery that welcomes gamblers, nightlifers, wine connoisseurs and families alike, named Tula Bene Pastaria + Chophouse. 

“It’s a livelier space,” expressed Tula Bene Chef and GM, Jeremy Taisey. “Formally it was fine-dining, very intimate and quiet. We tried to create a more fun atmosphere where you can come in, sit down with friends, have some wine, have some great food and relax and enjoy company. And we strive to make the food a part of that conversation. It’s a lot more open but it still has a certain intimacy at the same time. And the way we approach the food in the kitchen is to bring it back to the basics, get rid of all the fancy stuff and keep it clean and simple. The atmosphere is casual and fun, the food is presented nice, we have a lot of great wines and the pricing is affordable for our guests. We want to give the guests fine dining without them realizing it’s fine dining.”

With delicious dishes including a variety of steaks, chops, burgers and pastas, the restaurant’s new menu is sure to have something for everyone in your party. A number of meals and drinks are made tableside, adding to the fun experience. 

“Tulalip Bay had a fine-dining theme and even though I want the food to be just as good, I want Tula Bene to be more of a fun restaurant, something that’s more approachable and that people will leave saying, we had a good time,” expresses Tulalip Resort Casino Executive Chef, Perry Mascitti.

The Tula Bene menu was created by a team that included Chef Perry, Chef Jeremy, TRC Sommelier Tommy Thompson and TRC Food and Beverage Director Lisa Severn. Once an idea for a dish was agreed upon, Chef Jeremy took to the kitchen to create the recipe from scratch, using only fresh ingredients and local meat for the dishes.

“It’s focused on Italian cuisine, everything is made fresh to order,” Chef Jeremy expresses. “Some of our signature items would be our lobster ravioli, which is very unique in that there’s a lot of lobster that actually goes into it. We bring in seventy live lobsters a week for the restaurant. We have a real commitment to freshness. Our steaks are all hand-cut here in the kitchen, we have custom dry-aged steak, we have wagyu steaks.  Our beet salad is fantastic, it has a great balance of roasted beets and all these different flavors and has a really nice presentation. For our salmon carpaccio we cure our salmon in-house. We bring in all of our fish whole, nothing is pre-fileted, we break everything down here. Again, it’s just that commitment to quality and freshness.

“We used to be fine-dining and at the heart all of these guys are fine-dine cooks and chefs, so to go causal was a bit of a challenge,” he continues. “Our mantra is, we don’t do easy, we make easy happen through hard work and learning. When a guest comes into the restaurant and orders, it may appear simple or something easy to cook, but really these guys do about four to five hours of prep every day before we open. For an example, all of our peas are fava beans. We bring them in whole and shell them by hand, it takes hours and hours of work. It’s easy to buy a bag of frozen peas, but we’re very committed to quality and freshness and letting the flavors shine through.”

Sommelier, Tommy Thompson spoke of the many wines offered at Tula Bene. With two wine cellars, the restaurant certainly has wide variety of red and whites for their guests.

“We’re wine-centric,” says Tommy. “We have a pretty cool selection of wine for people looking for an experience. We have the Italian wines, thirteen of those, and thirteen international wines as well. We have keg wines with Italian and Washington fruit. You’re not paying for the fluff, the bottle, the cork, the wrap, but you’re getting high-end fruit. There’s a stigma about wine, that it’s pinky out and high-end only, and we’re here to challenge that and say just relax and enjoy a damn good glass of juice with Washington fruit for around eight-dollars a glass.”

Tula Bene features a full bar located near the gaming floor, separating the machines and the restaurant. The famous Chihuly glass chandelier that hung at the heart of Tulalip Bay is still in place, highlighting the stylish new floor plan. Tommy also paired a few of his favorite wines with a couple new Tula Bene menu items to suggest to the guests upon their first visit to the restaurant.

“Chef Jeremy and his team put together an excellent menu and did a fantastic job,” he states. “One of the most simple foods is the French fry and they took it and put out the best parmesan fries, it’s ridiculous, they’re addicting. My favorite wine to go with that would be a killer prosecco. Fries and bubbles are perfect together. I’m also currently geeking out on a wine called Domain Mercouri. It’s a white wine from Greece and it’s grown in volcanic soils, so it gets ripe but retains really good acidity, that goes great with the pancetta wrapped halibut.”

Since Tula Bene’s recent opening on June 14, the restaurant has received several great reviews. Chef Jeremy, Chef Perry and Tommy all expressed the joy they feel when seeing a family have a great time while at the restaurant.

“The main course I want to serve here is fun and a fun experience, the sharing experience,” says Chef Perry. “To see our guests come in for great food and leave with great memories, I think that’s what’s most important. It’s always nice when people say, we had great food in your restaurant, but it’s always that much better when we get a guest who leaves saying they had a great experience.” 

For further details and to view the Tula Bene Pastaria + Chophouse menu, please visit www.TulalipResortCasino.com

The ‘Sioux Chef’ Is Putting Pre-Colonization Food Back On The Menu





Like most chefs, Sean Sherman practically lives in the kitchen. But in his spare time, this member of the Oglala Lakota tribe has been on a quest to identify the foods his ancestors ate on the Great Plains before European settlers appeared on the scene. After years of researching and experimenting with “pre-colonization” foods, he’s preparing to open a restaurant in the Twin Cities this winter that showcases those foods, reborn for contemporary palates.

Sherman, who calls himself the Sioux Chef, grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It’s where he first started to learn about the traditional foods of the Plains, whether it was hunting animals like pronghorn antelope and grouse,or picking chokecherries for wojapi, a berry soup.

“We were close to the Badlands and its sand hills, which is not the best growing area by far,” says Sherman, who’s now 40. “But we would also spend weeks in the Black Hills, crawling around and learning stuff.”

Sherman’s grandfather was among the first Native American children to go to mission schools on the reservation, and he was one of Sherman’s first teachers. Forced assimilation during the 19th and early 20th century wiped out much of Native American food culture across the country. When his grandfather died when Sherman was 18, he was left with many unanswered questions.

In the meantime, Sherman worked his way up in the restaurant world, eventually becoming an executive chef at Minneapolis’ La Bodega in 2000. Around the same time, he had the idea to write a Lakota cookbook. Although there were some Native American cookbooks already on the market, he says he found that most of them focused on the Southwest or made too many generalizations about food across regions and tribes.

When he tried to learn more about the wild game — and especially the plants — native to the Great Plains, he came up short. He says many Americans don’t have a sense of the Lakota diet beyond bison or frybread. (Frybread is actually a fairly recent addition and has a complicated history.)

“There wasn’t a lot of information out there, so I devised my own [research] plan,” he says. “I spent years studying wild edibles and ethnobotany.”

He learned more from oral histories and also started reading historical first-contact accounts written by Europeans, although they weren’t always helpful.

“A lot of those first-contact reports focused on what the men were doing [hunting], not on what the women were doing — processing all of the food,” he says.

One of his breakthroughs came when he lived in Mexico for a while. He discovered that the traditional methods of drying and grinding food in that region were similar to those his tribe had once used, and indigenous people all across North America were working with ingredients like corn, beans and squash.

Back in Minnesota, he continued to try and piece together a picture of the traditional diet of the local Dakota and Ojibwe tribes. He also spent a lot of time traveling across the state, adding more staples to his growing list, including bison, venison, rabbit, river and lake fish, trout, duck, quail, maple sugar, sage, sumac, plums, timpsula or wild turnip, wild rice, purslane, amaranth, maize, and various wildflowers.

Identifying the ingredients has only been half of the challenge, however. He’s also had to figure out how to preserve everything. He’s relied mostly on a food dehydrator (for efficiency), but he’s also experimented with drying by sun and wood fire.

“I want to figure out how I can use wild flavors in season, because they might be gone in a two-week period,” he says. “The biggest part of the Native American cuisine is just that method of preserving foods. That’s what people were doing during the whole summer season — preparing for the next long winter.”

Sherman started Sioux Chef as a catering business in Minneapolis and hopes to open his restaurant sometime this winter in the Twin Cities. He says the area’s diverse population and vibrant food scene offer the “best platform to showcase what we can do with these foods.”

Some chefs have tried similar concepts in other regions. Nephi Craig brings Apache and Navajo influences to the food he prepares at the Sunrise Park Resort Hotel in Arizona. The Misitam Cafe in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., has won national acclaim.

Sherman says his restaurant will feature a seasonal menu with family-style dishes, like wild rice flatbread, cedar-braised bison, smoked turkey wasna, seared walleye with sumac and maple sugar and balsam fir iced tea. Most of his ingredients will be sourced from local farms. Some farms, like Wozupi, work with local tribes to grow indigenous plants and preserve heirloom seeds.

Sherman says his goal is to bring a sophisticated touch to traditional ingredients, and he hopes it will be a way to share old traditions with new diners. “We need this kind of restaurant all over the place,” he says.

But other groups on reservations are interested in reviving pre-colonization foods to reincorporate them into local diets. The Traditional Western Apache Diet Project and the Crow Creek Fresh Food Initiative are offshoots of a food sovereignty movement that is picking up steam on several reservations around the country. A recent study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture also found that several indigenous foods that aren’t widely consumed anymore are highly nutritious.

If his restaurant is successful, Sherman hopes he can expand the concept and create similar ones across the country, training young Native American chefs in keeping their tribes’ best culinary traditions alive.

Journey Into Asian Cuisine at the Tulalip Resort Casino

Tribal employee, Andrew Gobin enjoys a Spicy Tuna roll and a California roll at the new Tulalip Resort Casino restaurant, Journey’s East. Photo/Monica Brown
Tribal employee, Andrew Gobin enjoys a Spicy Tuna roll and a California roll at the new Tulalip Resort Casino restaurant, Journey’s East. Photo/Monica Brown


By Monica Brown, Tulalip News

The new Tulalip Resort Casino restaurant Journey’s East is just that, a journey into Asian cuisine. The small menu encompasses a wide array of flavors and textures and lists peculiar items such as century eggs and sweet potato noodles. Most items will be familiar though like dumplings, Pad Thai, Chow Mein, Tempura and Mongolian beef.

When you are seated at Journey’s East you are given a menu and a pot of tea to enjoy at your leisure. The menu may have some complicated items to understand if you have never heard of them, but they are all derived from the Asian culture and may be a variation of something you have already enjoyed before.  From the Sake (rice wine) to the noodles, many items on the menu contain some form of rice, which is a main staple in many Asian countries, the rest of the menu ingredients are simple variations of meats, vegetables and sauces.

One item on the menu that may have some intimidated is the sushi and should not be confused with sashimi, which is a type of sushi. Sushi is a generic term for vinegared rice that is combined with other toppings and fillings such as seaweed, vegetables and some sort of meat such as seafood or tofu and may be raw or cooked. There are many types of sushi, sashimi is a distinct type that has sliced fresh fish placed atop vinegared rice and is enjoyed raw.

If you have any questions about menu items, the wait staff is very knowledgeable and can explain everything about the food that you’d like to know more about, or you can always use Google. As for the sushi, some rolls do have raw fish, if that is not something you desire, check with your waiter about which rolls are raw and which are not.

The restaurant furnishing is minimalist, the décor geometric. Seating can be limited; if you have a party of 5 or more, making a reservation would be beneficial. To make a reservation visit the Tulalip Casino Journey’s East website and click the Reservations button or by calling during restaurant hours. Journey’s East has a to go option and the menu is available on the website at, http://www.tulalipresortcasino.com/Dining/JourneysEast.

Restaurant hours are 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. Wednesday – Monday (closed Tuesdays). For questions or reservations, call 360-716-1880. For cuisine to go call 360-716-1766.



Ivar’s Birthday Wishes and More Fishes

Ivar’s Birthday Bargain: $1.08 Menu Items Served up on March 19; plus free cake pops for the first 108 guests.

SEATTLE, March 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — He recently missed having a ferry named in his honor, but Ivar Haglund would have never missed a chance to shell-ebrate with a party! In that spirit, on Tuesday, March 19, all Ivar’s Seafood Restaurants, including Seafood Bars and full service restaurants throughout Washington State, will commemorate what would have been Ivar Haglund’s 108th birthday by offering special $1.08 dining deals in honor of their “flounder.”

Ivar's Birthday Offer (March 19, 2013).  (PRNewsFoto/Ivar's Seafood Restaurants)
Ivar’s Birthday Offer (March 19, 2013). (PRNewsFoto/Ivar’s Seafood Restaurants)

As part of Ivar’s annual birthday festivities, throughout the day guests can purchase one full-priced entree and receive a second entree from a special birthday menu for just $1.08, simply by exclaiming “Happy Birthday, Ivar” when placing the order. In addition to the birthday discounts, Ivar’s will also treat the first 108 guests at each of its locations to a delicious blueberry birthday cake pop, one of Haglund’s favorite flavors.   

To add to the festivities, Ivar’s is also hosting a two-week “Ivar Haglund Birthday Video and Photo Contest” (March 6-20) on its Facebook page. Fans can enter by uploading a creative video or photo wishing happy birthday to Haglund, for a chance to net a $108 Ivar’s gift card or other great prizes. Winners will be selected based on originality and creativity by a panel of Ivar’s judges. Enter at www.facebook.com/IvarsRestaurants by March 20.

Ivar Haglund began the popular restaurant chain bearing his name in 1938, when he opened a fish and chips stand at his Seattle aquarium, which was located on the Waterfront at Pier 3 (now Pier 54). He was well known for his popular radio ditties, as well as his comical stunts such as clam eating contests,  taking advantage of a train-car syrup spill, and an Ivar’s clam postage stamp. He passed away in 1985 just shy of his 80th birthday. The history behind Ivar Haglund can be found on Ivar’s website. This year also marks a significant milestone, as it’s the company’s 75th anniversary, with more details revealed later this spring.   

The birthday bargain is available all day long at any of the 23 Ivar’s Seafood Bars throughout the state, excluding stadium locations. All Ivar’s full service locations are also in on the action, including Ivar’s Acres of Clams on Seattle’s waterfront, Ivar’s Salmon House on north Lake Union, and Ivar’s Mukilteo Landing overlooking Possession Sound.

About Ivar’s
Ivar’s Seafood Restaurants began on Seattle’s waterfront in 1938. Today, there are 23 Ivar’s fast casual Seafood Bars and three full-service restaurants: Ivar’s Acres of Clams, Ivar’s Salmon House and Ivar’s Mukilteo Landing. Ivar’s Seafood, Soup and Sauce Company markets and sells its award-winning soups, chowders and sauces both nationally and internationally. The company also operates regional stadium concessions including Safeco Field, CenturyLink Field, KeyArena, Bank of America Arena, Husky Stadium and Cheney Stadium. Learn more at http://www.ivars.com/.

SOURCE Ivar’s Seafood Restaurants