My editor, Sara Bruestle, recently heard from a reader who suggested we check out Brianna’s Cafe in Marysville.
Brianna’s is an American comfort-food diner that serves breakfast, lunch and supper, with meals such as eggs Benedict, chicken-fried steak, sandwiches and baked spaghetti. Faced with a busy work week and the need for a little comfort, we welcomed the idea of lunch at the cafe.
Shortly after our arrival we were met by a beautiful 4-year-old girl who gave us each a Dum-Dums lollipop.
Our very fine and genuinely kind server turned out to be the little charmer’s big sister, Gabriela. Obviously, we learned, the cafe is a family business.
Indeed. Gabriela told us that her father, Gabriel Valadez — the cafe’s owner and chef — had learned his craft during a long stint as a cook for Voula’s Good Eats in Mountlake Terrace. In fact Brianna’s menu includes some of the Greek and Italian meals sold at Voula’s.
“But we’re not Greek,” Gabriela said with a smile. “The owners of the previous restaurant that was located here served Greek and Italian, too.”
So, who is Brianna? I asked.
“Is she your mother?”
“My mother is Monica. Brianna is the one who gave you the suckers,” she said. “That’s her job when she’s not at pre-school.”
From then on we were fast friends with Brianna, whose photographic portrait hangs on the wall. Brianna is the youngest of Gabriel and Monica’s five children.
“We all try to help at the restaurant,” Gabriela said.
Brianna politely chatted with us at our table, sucked on lollipops, pretended to eat soup from her water glass, nibbled on my slice of grilled bread and squealed when her older brother showed up to work.
Sara and I opted to have dinner for lunch.
My chicken souvlaki ($13.75) came with a green salad, bread, potatoes, a vegetable medley, tasty tzatziki yogurt sauce and skewers of perfectly seasoned and grilled chicken.
While the chicken was wonderful, the mixed vegetables were overcooked and soggy, and the mashed potatoes didn’t really fit. Instead, a bit of grilled zucchini and potatoes would have been great. Brianna’s Cafe has only been open since September, so I imagine the Valadez family is still working out the kinks.
Knowing she would take half of the generous portion home, Sara ordered the baked lasagna, with its signature tomato sauce ($13). Instead of salad, she ordered the Greek avgolemono soup, which is made with egg, lemon, chicken and rice. Talk about creamy comfort food.
The highlight of our meal, besides visiting with Brianna, was the dessert that was included in the price. Sara and I agreed it was the most delicious creme brulee we’d ever had. Gabriela said her dad’s cream pies are popular as well.
We also hear that the fries and the waffles at Brianna’s are outstanding. We’ll be back. If we’re lucky, Brianna will be there to sit with us.
314 State Ave., Marysville; 360-659-9222; www.facebook.com/BriannasCafe
Open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
American diner food, with some Greek and Italian specialties