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Restaurant Q&A: Silver City Restaurant and Brewery

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Megan Moran pours two beers for a Tuesday night crowd at Silver City Restaurant and Brewery.

 

Brothers Scott and Steve Houmes, sons and grandsons of restaurateurs and former owners of Top Notch Burger restaurants in Bremerton and Silverdale, opened Silver City Restaurant and Brewery in 1996. Last year, Silver City opened its Bremerton brewery to expand its beer-production capacity and increase restaurant seating in the space formerly occupied by brewing operations.

As part of my work on Kitsap Sun’s upcoming restaurant guide (due out in October), I interviewed co-owner Scott Houmes. A portion of the Q&A will appear in the guide, but Food Life readers get the full, uncut version. Well, uncut except for the parts where I didn’t type nearly fast enough (or forgot to type as I listened) and consequently portions of the conversation were omitted.

How did you and your brother decide to start a brewery?
We decided it was a good fit for Kitsap County. It’s something that we had a passion for as far as the food industry and great craft beer. We thought at that time that Kitsap County was ready for it.

How did you meet brewmaster Don Spencer?
We went on a recruiting trip for a brewmaster. We knew that brewmasters were kind of a brotherhood, so we took a tour of Thomas Kemper [which formerly brewed in Poulsbo]. We wanted to meet a brewer and put the word out there. In 1996, they didn’t have Monster.com or any of those things, so we were doing it the old fashioned way. … We took a tour with Don Spencer and after the tour, we took him aside and said this is what we were doing and if you know anyone, spread the word. Luckily, Don didn’t tell anybody and we ended up hiring him shortly after that. Being a brewmaster is a pretty coveted position. He was able to come in and create his own recipes and styles and brew what he wanted to brew and brew what Kitsap County would like.

About 50 additional seats have been placed in the area formerly occupied by the brewing operation.

How’s business?
Good. We have a good following. We just finished an expansion that we’ve been working on for the past eight to 10 months. Our business grew and grew every year since we opened in ’96. In the past five years, we’d have a waiting a line at the door every week, and we knew we needed space for more guests and our beer was becoming more and more popular so we took the brewing operations from the site… We have a production brewing facility down in in Bremerton and we’re now distributing our beer throughout Western Washington. We were able to open 50 more seats for our guests and eliminate the wait for our tables.

After 15 years, you still have steady business and a social media following most local businesses could envy. What do you think has kept Silver City so popular?
I think being a brewpub or this style of restaurant and brewery lends itself to having more of a neighborhood feel, a place that the community can call their own. The beer is brewed in the area … a lot of people have learned about craft beer through Silver City. It’s not just part of another chain. It’s a locally owned place that they can feel good about, that’s the first thing. And No. 2, we have a great staff with a great level of service, second to none and we offer a great selection of food that you can come and eat in any attire … with flip-flops or a tie.

You moved brewing operations to Bremerton and expanded the restaurant in the vacated vat space, how have the changes gone?
It’s gone over great. It’s given the operation a lot more space for the guests. The wait time has been reduced and it’s expanded our brewing capacity. We’re able to produce more seasonal beers on a consistent basis, give more variety for our gusts and it gives a better flow for the restaurant. One of the main things our guests would always comment on was a long wait for a table and it was cramped quarters in there. …Having people hungry and standing in line for 45 minutes is not something anybody wants to do.

When are you going to open a tasting room at the brewery?
That’s a good question. With the growth of the distribution business, it’s kept me on my toes. We’ve darn near tripled our production from what we had four years ago, so we’ve been busy with that and busy with remodeling the restaurant… The type of business we can open up down here is limited because of lack of parking in our industrial area. You can’t open a 50- to 60-seat restaurant with 15 parking spaces, so it will be something more like a tap room with a lack of food. If we can’t get them someplace to park, they won’t come.

The biggest excuse is: it’s been a matter of time. We have had it open for keg sales and bottle sales out of the brewer since the first of January. We sell between 20 and 30 kegs a weekend.

People can go down there and pick it up?
They can call ahead and order and we make sure its ready nine times out of 10 for the weekend.

What beers do you have under development?
As in new? We have our year-round beers, our most popular being Ridgetop Red and the Fat Scotch Ale, our Indianola Pale Ale, the Panther Lake Porter and our Bavarian Hefeweizen and Whoop Pass IPA.

We also have beers that we like to have our seasonal beer rotation and right now, we have our Oktoberfest … We’re one of the few that brew a traditional Oktoberfest lager. Our next seasonal lager will be our winter bock, which we’re very excited about.

When will (the winter bock) be out?
That will be out the beginning of November.

Is this the first year for the winter bock?
We brewed it on an annual basis at the brewpub, but now as far as distribution, this will be our first year.

Our seasonal beer this summer was a Ziggy Zoggy and it was very successful. It’s a great summer, easy-drinking beer with some honey notes to it much like a summer pilsner but very sessionable. … I don’t know if you’ll find that in the dictionary. What we mean is that you can drink them in succession.

Tell me about menu changes over the years.
Basically the guests have helped determine our menu over the years. We re-order the fresh sheet on a rotating basis. We bring out new items on the fresh sheet, an appetizer, several entrees and a dessert. They coincide with the season. For the fall, we have bratwurst and schnitzel. In the wintertime, you’re going to have more of  hearty dish and such. With those items, depending on how well they’re received and how well they sell determines what goes on the menu in the future.

We can’t just keep adding to the menu, though, to keep the flow of the kitchen and the restaurant. … Some restaurants just have a huge menu, and order to do what we do, we keep the food fresh. We just can’t offer a million different items.  … Something like a schnitzel, where it would be very popular, it won’t go on the menu because its a fun thing to have every season. It’s nice to change to the menu, but it’s also hard because people get in the habit of having their favorite item. … You have to make those tough decisions.

How do you decide which new beers to introduce?
They’re all inspired by Don Spencer, our brewmaster. … Throughout the years, we’ve had up to 40 different styles. We have a small brewery here called our pilot brewery where we can brew two kegs of beer at a time, so it can start in that fashion, and we’ll put that beer on at the pub and see how it’s received. If the brew is successful, it would evolve into a pub series beer that’s mainly for the pub. We’ll brew 20 barrels, that’s 40 kegs, and that wil be on at the pub for four weeks or so. Based on the success of the beer, not only the sales but how it fits our lineup, will determine that.

Some beers will be seasonal, but like the restaurant menu, you can only have so many brews year-round. Our brewery is getting larger, but it’s not that large.

Do you home brew beer?
No, my brother and I are restaurateurs. Since we opened the new facility, I’m more of an overseer of the brewing operations and brewing distribution and he’s more of an overseer of the restaurant. We come from a family of restaurant owners. Both my grandfather and father were in the business. My grandfather started a chain called Kings Table and my father joined it in late ’60s, early ’70s. They were part of growing it all along the West Coast.

What’s your favorite beer and food pairing?
My favorite, let’s see here. I would have to say my favorite pairing is a Ridgetop Red with our firecracker wings because a red is nice and sweet with nice caramel notes, and not overpowering, and the firecracker wings have a spicy ginger and garlic to it. Most wings are just spicy, but with ginger and garlic to our wings, its very unique. The spiciness slows me down so i don’t eat too much.

Tell me about the best beer you’ve ever had and why it was so memorable.
That’s a tough question … I’ve come to appreciate every beer for its own style. I used to be a real hop-head and say nothing was good unless it was an IPA or Double IPA, but the longer I’m in this business, the more I appreciate the number of styles there are and the number of flavors there are. My next favorite beer is the beer I haven’t had yet, and I’m going to ponder over.

What’s next for Silver City?
A lot of people have encouraged us to grow over the years. They say, ‘Open a restaurant in my town’ up and down the Kitsap Peninsula down to Gig Harbor and up to Port Townsend and Sequim. Growing up in this business. … What it takes is time away from our family and time away from a lot of our restaurants and it turns into a big battle. This business is hard enough as it is with one restaurant and one brewery. … We’re more content with ensuring our business in Bremerton and Silverdale do what we say we’re going to do as far as having great operations, great food and great beer rather than grow it and expand operations. We’re planning on making Silver City as good as it’s ever been if not better.


Food news roundup: restaurant news, Fourth of July grilling

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Kitsap News

The restaurant action, it seems, is on Bainbridge Island. Recently chef and food writer Greg Atkinson announced that he would open a restaurant on the island. Kitsap Sun’s reporter Rachel Pritchett talked with him about it for a story on Monday. By Wednesday, news had surfaced that Hitchcock, whose locally focused fine dining fare has been lauded by area food critics, may expand into the space next door, according to Bainbridge Conversation’s Tristan Baurick.

At Poulsbo’s farmers market on Saturday, Chef Tomas Nevarez, owner of the in-home chef instruction company Simmer Down will demonstrate creating a meal with locally harvested foods.

At Bainbridge Farmers Market, fstopcafé will offer a coffee roasting demonstration and tea tastings and a talk on tea.

Other Northwest News

Seattle Beerfest started Friday. The annual, often crowded, convention for beer geeks at Seattle Center promises 130 brews on tap. It opens at noon Saturday and Sunday. Cost is $25

I missed this last week, but apparently of note is that Seattle’s food scene is better than Portland’s, according to Sunset Magazine, which pitted top cities against each other. Hmmm, I envision a Portlandia episode in the making.

And now, I’m cutting this short so I can get to …

Fourth of July

Northwest weather guru Cliff Mass predicts that the holiday will get off to a cloudy start, but will sun up by the afternoon with temperatures in the mid-70s. That means, of course, prime grilling weather. Every food magazine out there has grilling guides and suggestions.

Personally, I’m not a fan of making all the food red, white and blue (that’s what decorations are for), but there are some more subtle colored-food touches such as red, white and blue potatoes as suggested by Bainbridge Farmers Market, or maybe a little blueberry, raspberry cobbler.

Coincidentally, as the Sea Life blog’s Jeff Adams reminded readers, this weekend also is open to crabbing season and “crabs are as Northwest’erican as espresso and apple pie,” he said. You can grill crab, though some suggest that (after cleaning it, of course) that you lightly wrap it in foil. Crab can be easy to overcook, so be gentle.

From the Food Life recipe archives (which I realize is a bit anemic), I can suggest Peruvian kebabs with roasted yellow pepper sauce, perhaps accompanied by grilled corn on the cob and for dessert, grilled nectarines with berry sauce, though blueberries may make a more seasonally friendly accompaniment than blackberries.

Also of note from the fine food publications out there, Saveur magazine this year offered a grilling guide that included a half dozen barbecue sauce recipes from Dr. Pepper sauce to Carolina gold, briskets and hush puppy or pickled sides (holy wow, why aren’t I eating right now?!). Southern Living boasts the “ultimate” grilling guide. And for those who want fewer calories, Cooking Light also has a Fourth of July recipe compilation.

As always, fell free to share any other suggestions you have for celebratory eating on the Fourth! Hope you all eat (and/or drink) well and stay safe!

 


Bremerton’s 15th Street Bakery has closed

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Bremerton’s 15th Street Bakery next to the Hi-Lo’s 15th Street Cafe has closed. The owners of Hi-Lo had opened it as both a bakery and waiting area for the cafe after the death of the bakery’s previous owner Luigi Ferrari. But in recent months, hours had dwindled and this week, this sign was posted in the window:

The cafe still is open and regularly packed as usual. And if people in the neighborhood are looking for sweets and pastries, longtime Bremerton baker McGavin’s also is open about a half mile up Callow Ave. and still selling pink champagne cakes, too.


Crimson Cove opens Poulsbo storefront to sell smoked goods

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

People who walked around downtown Poulsbo during Viking Fest last weekend may have noticed a new store on Front Street. Crimson Cove, which has been selling smoked salmon, smoked cheeses, nuts and other goods at area farmers markets during the past few years has opened a storefront.

Mark and Jody DeSalvo began selling smoked goods in 2007. They use alder and apple woods to smoke their goods from a building in Kingston.

The store, next to Sluy’s Bakery, has the same salmon and the variety of cheeses from blue to swiss that they’ve sold at farmers and other area markets as well as smoked salts, nuts, dips, crackers and salsas so boaters at Poulsbo marina can take back enough snacks for a day on the water. Plus, they have samples.


Lots of work going on in new Bremerton tapas lounge

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

As I was walking around downtown Bremerton late last week, I caught this site of Toro, the tapas (small plate) and martini lounge that’s slated to open this summer. The restaurant is the work of Bremerton businessman Carlos Jara.

By the looks of it, Jara isn’t just cleaning and moving into the former Badda Boom Badda Bing/Fillipi’s space on Pacific Avenue. He’s gutted the space for what looks like a full remodel, uncovering a tongue-and-groove ceiling, and based on a few photos from the lounge’s Facebook page, the color scheme will include some sexy reds, blacks and grays.

Toro Lounge in Bremerton


CB’s Nuts in Kingston grinding and growing

Sunday, May 8th, 2011
Peanut butter making at CB's Nuts in Kingston

Photos by Meegan M. Reid, Kitsap Sun

KINGSTON — If people had told Tami Bowen a dozen years ago that she could make a living selling peanuts, she’d have told them they were crazy.

Crazier still might have been the notion that not only could she make living but be on the verge of greatly expanding a nut business.

That was before Tami met Clark Bowen, the CB in CB’s Nuts.

It was 2003 and Clark was both running a family outdoor advertising business and selling roasted peanuts from a tent on Occidental Avenue in front of Qwest Field.

He’d been hooked on peanuts since munching on them during Mariners games, and decided to make a business out of them after falling in love with a bag of fresh-roasted North Carolina peanuts at Camden Yards in Baltimore. From there, he traveled through the South and convinced family peanut businesses to share close-held information.

Tami described her husband as a student, intense in his research.

“If I get interested in something, I’m going for it,” Clark said.

Clark Bowen fills the hopper with peanuts to be ground into peanut butter.

After they married, they prepared the nuts together in a roaster that screamed like a jet engine from a steel outbuilding at a friend’s house in Kingston. When neighbors couldn’t take it anymore, they moved the operation to their own home in Hansville.

By then, they were working with several grocery stores. Clark would go out and sell nuts and Tami would take care of deliveries in between their first child’s naps.

As sales grew, Clark sold off the sign business and in 2007 they bought a 1,000 square-foot building off Highway 104.

There, they expanded to other nuts and offered shelled nuts to stores with grinders for peanut butter.

Along the way, they developed a relationship with Whole Foods, which got them buying organic peanuts from New Mexico.

After a distributer accidentally delivered 10,000 pounds of shelled nuts, they found themselves in the peanut butter business too.

Much of the early peanut butter work was done in small batches with a lot of hand work.

Protective wraps of plastic on the peanut butter jars were shrunk with a hair dryer and labels were pasted on by hand.

Clark at first utilized an old Hobart industrial baking mixer to rub off the papery skin from the nuts. Batches were then shaken by hand on a screen to let the skins fall out.

Eventually, Clark got a lead on an old industrial skinner form the South that he had rebuilt and shipped to Kingston.
To make the butter, peanuts were ground in small batches in a grinder about the size of a microwave with a two-inch in diameter grinding wheel.

“It’s been really fun to figure out how to grow within our means,” Tami said. As one part of the business grows, they’ve built up around it.

The peanut butter has been selling well as customers grow comfortable with a fresh product with a suggested four-month shelf-life.

Add to that a growing desire for fresher and locally produced foods, and the company hit its peanut butter processing limit.

They applied for a business loan to buy a larger grinder, but were turned down.

That’s when Whole Foods suggested they apply for one of its local producer loans.

Still smarting from the costs involved with the other loan and the current state of the economy, “I thought maybe we shouldn’t do it at all,” Tami said.

But apply they did, and in mid-April they had their new, refurbished grinder up and running.

“This will really allow us to expand,” Clark said.

At full capacity, the machine, which has an 18-inch girding wheel, can process 16,000 pounds of nuts an hour, 20 times the peanut butter they were making before.

“It’ll take us awhile to get to full production,” Tami said.

Peanuts don’t grow overnight.

Clark will soon set out to visit their peanut growing partners in to see how much more they can supply CB’s going into 2012.

For now, they’re adjusting the grinder, seeing how much production they can manage. One of them goes in early in the morning, the other joins in the work in the afternoon.

“I consider this (business) the third kid … something we’ve grown from an idea,” Tami said.
And they’re planning for July, when they’ll take their first vacation in four years.


Bremerton Bar and Grill opening delayed a day

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Downtown Bremerton’s new restaurant, Bremerton Bar and Grill, apparently is pushing back its opening date. Instead of opening Monday, it will open Tuesday, April 19.

Owner Neighborhood Grills has, though, started filling up the restaurant’s website (I’ll mostly ignore for now that any restaurant website anymore thinks its a good idea to make readers download pdf menus) and set up a Facebook page.

The important part, though, is that it will it open at 5 p.m., the tail end of happy hour (as advertised by Neighborhood Grills , it goes from 3 to 6 and 9 to close every day). The beers and drinks may be $4 and $5, but the happy hour food plates range from $3 to $7.


Food News Roundup: Trader Joe’s, another Bremerton restaurant, 2 Blackbirds

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

This week offered a fair amount of food news for Kitsap.

On top of news that already this year, two new Bremerton restaurants have or will soon open, we learn that there will be yet another. Early this week, Carlos Jara solved for the Bremerton Downtown Association the mystery of what’s behind the visqueened windows  in the old Filippis-then-Badda Bing spot on Pacific Avenue. He has taken over the spot and plans to open a tapas and martini bar. He told reporter Steven Gardner that he couldn’t offer details this week, but that he’ll talk about it more soon.

On Bainbridge Island, owners of the popular Blackbird Bakery announced that they will open a restaurant, according to the Bainbridge Conversation blog.

Also on Bainbridge, Northwest foraging guru Langdon Cook visited to teach a class on foraging for and cooking up stinging nettles. It’s part of a new series of classes, which opened this week, introducing people to the “Bounty of the Land.” Tristan Baurick had a story on nettles for Sunday’s paper.

Trader Joe lovers are eagerly awaiting the new store planned for Silverdale, and this week, Brynn Grimley learned that it may open as soon as this summer.

Brynn, who also teams up with local wine afficionado Mary Earl on the Cheers to You wine blog, also reports that several Manette restaurants will host a wine walk on Thursday.


Bremerton to welcome second restaurant this year

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Steven Gardner reports for Saturday’s paper that the Bremerton Bar & Grill is slated to open April 18.

It, like its brethren Neighborhood Grills establishments, will offer for dinner steaks, fish and chicken dishes with prices ranging from $13 for burger plates to $17 for a surf and turf, based on a look through the site’s menus. For lunch, offerings include the same burgers, sandwiches and salads on the dinner menu for a slightly cheaper price on some items (about a $1 off on sandwiches).

For nice days, the restaurant will have outdoor seating that faces the park.

When opened, it will be the second new restaurant to open in Bremerton this year. The other, Orion in Manette, opened in February. I’ll have more details on that one for an upcoming edition of of the paper and this blog.


New Bremerton Restaurant to offer ‘accessible fine dining’ in Manette

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

A new “accessible fine dining” restaurant will open in the former spot of The Patio in Manette. That’s what executive chef Timm Higgins calls the soon-to-open Orion.

The restaurant will feature local, seasonal foods, and Higgins plans to change the menu monthly. Higgins, who was trained in french technique at Le Cordon Bleu Collage of Culinary Arts in Portland, has created an opening menu that includes such dishes as scallops in brown butter with Brussels sprouts, bacon, apple and champagne; chicken with roasted garlic gnocchi, peas and carrots with hunter sauce; or wild mushrooms with Parmesan risotto croquette, blue cheese and Marsala.

The full opening menu is posted below as well as in the window of the restaurant. (more…)


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About This Blog

The Food Life covers people, place and events involved in the food community on the Kitsap Peninsula and surrounding areas.
Written by Angela Dice. You can contact me at angela [at] angeladice.com.

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