The new grill on the block

POULSBO -- Poulsbo's newest eatery opened its doors wide to the hungry Wednesday.

And boy did the masses come.

Taprock Northwest Grill served up an array of Pacific Northwest flavors to a palatably impressed crowd that has anxiously been awaiting its opening. The restaurant is a replacement for Mitzel's American Kitchen, which burned down in a May 2006 fire.

Eaters arrived in full force Wednesday to test out the establishment. And for the most part, they were pleased.

Leon and Marilyn Leslie said they still wish, like Mitzel's, that Taprock served breakfast, but despite the missing morning meal offered hearty compliments to the kitchen.

"The cook's really a good cook," said Leon, who had the plank cedar salmon for lunch. "You look for good salmon and he knows how to cook it."

Marilyn was equally impressed with her salmon teriyaki.

"We loved it," she said.

Poulsbo resident Kevin Gilman and his son, Jordan, said for the most part their first visit to Taprock earned a thumbs up.

Jordan said his crab and shrimp pasta lunch was "excellent," while Kevin said the crab melt was good, though he wasn't overly impressed with its size. The two said though the new restaurant has a few kinks to work out, it was still a great place to share a meal.

Matt Corbin, vice president of marketing for Taprock, said the Poulsbo community has offered an affirming welcome.

"The overwhelming response has been very positive," he said. "The restaurant is not Mitzel's, and so as different guests came through, some were maybe, I would say, expecting a more Mitzel's-like restaurant, but from what we could tell they were quite happy with what they found."

Corbin said Taprock's staff, most of whom live in the immediate Poulsbo area, boast a great work ethic and enthusiasm that has helped to make the restaurant's opening a success. Two years in the making, Taprock's owner, Elmer's Restaurants Inc., is glad to be back in business in Poulsbo.

"We're glad that large numbers of people are coming in to experience it," he said. "We're taking their feedback and tweaking a few things but overall it seems like it's hitting pretty close to the bull's eye."

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