The drive to the restaurant through the countryside makes the destination a surprise for those not familiar with the cafe. Then the crowded parking lot betrays the expectation of a quiet, rural dining spot.
My husband and I took a houseguest there recently late on a weekday morning. Inside, business was bustling, the room was noisy with diners and few tables were available.
On a weekend morning at this time, you can expect to wait for a table. You might find seating at the counter if you are interested.
For those not familiar, the portions are large and the food hearty. The award-winning Maltby Cafe classic offering is its housemade cinnamon roll, which fills an entire meal-sized takeout container.
Omelets are made with three large eggs and come with country fried red potatoes and a choice of Maltby toast (housemade light wheat bread thickly cut) or a buttermilk biscuit.
The omelet names aptly describe their contents: the Whole Hog (sausage, bacon, ham and Tillamook cheddar cheese, $11.95), Manhattan mushroom (sauteed mushroom and onions with Jarlsberg Swiss cheese $11.95), not to mention the Greek, the Godfather, the Russian and the Belltown ($10.95 to $12.95).
My longtime friend from out of state is a corned beef hash aficionado, which I did not know. She ordered the country breakfast with the option of corned beef hash, served with those country fried potatoes and toast or biscuit ($12.95).
She said she was impressed with the visible chunks of pink corned beef. She didn't say it was good; she just nodded her head and kept eating. Finally, she reported that it was delicious.
Our server, when asked about the ingredients, besides corned beef, potatoes and carrots, said she wasn't sure what all was in it, but that it was an old family recipe from Butte, Montana, where the family of one of the owner is from.
My friend also ordered hot tea, which was served on a small tray with cup and saucer, teapot, tea bag and what looked like a yellow hard candy. The lemon flavored gumdrop was provided to place in the cup to infuse the tea with a bit of lemon and sweetness when the hot water hits it. That was just plain fun and clever.
Instead of ordering my favorite eggs Benedict, I picked a lighter choice, the two-egg breakfast ($6.25) which came with the thick, toasted Maltby bread, and asked for a small side of hollandaise ($1.25; a large is available for $3.25).
My eggs were poached exactly as I'd hoped: When I cut into them, the warm gooey yolk spread over the crunchy toast.
A few spoonfuls of the lemony Hollendaise over the top of my eggs and bread made my day, although I did reserve one piece of toast so I could enjoy the delicious berry jam.
My husband ordered a country breakfast (two eggs with country fried red potatoes and choice of biscuit or toast), plus bacon ($10.95). The thickly sliced bacon was served crisp and the eggs softly poached, just how he wanted them.
Diners with larger appetites can order one of the scrambles, smaller appetites from the light country breakfasts or the many side order options. Potato and egg fans as well as pancake and French toast lovers can find something to enjoy.
Breakfast is served from 7 to 11:15 a.m. Monday through Friday and all day on weekends. Lunch service starts at 11:30 a.m. and offers more than a dozen burgers, cold and hot sandwiches and salads.
To get into the cafe, which is in the basetment of an old school house, you walk down a flight of steep steps. On this trip, I noticed a diner in a wheelchair and discovered that they have added a gently sloping ramp to the back entrance to accommodate all customers. It was nice to see that addition.
The Maltby is still reliable and steady, and has a few new things to discover, much like an old friend.
- 8809 Maltby Road, Snohomish; 425-483-3123; www.maltbycafe.com.
- Specialty: Breakfast.
- Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
- Vegetarian options: Yes.
- Wheelchair accessible: Yes.
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