Dan Bates / The Herald                                At the Vintage Cafe, Jennifer Jarvis keeps an eye out for the needs of customers, and moves quickly out to a table with fresh coffee.

Dan Bates / The Herald At the Vintage Cafe, Jennifer Jarvis keeps an eye out for the needs of customers, and moves quickly out to a table with fresh coffee.

Linger over a good meal at Everett’s Vintage Cafe

A few months ago I went to the Vintage Cafe to write a story about the downtown Everett eatery celebrating 40 years in business.

It was hard to focus. I kept seeing plates heaped with fluffy pancakes and gravy-smothered mashed potatoes go by.

And then there were the cocktails, such as the peach martini…

The owners, Jim and Karen Staniford, have changed the name and the menu over years, but it has stayed in the same place at 1510 Hewitt Ave.

“We have a lot of repeat customers,” Jim told me. “That’s really the basis why we lasted.”

Customers confirmed this in their comments about the friendly service, generous portions and tasty fare.

The cafe evolved over four decades. It began as a restaurant and bar called The Alley that Karen opened a few years before she met Jim. It was a bold move for the then-single mom with a 14-year-old daughter, Lorrie. For art, Karen went to the library and had a bunch of photos of historic Everett scenes blown up poster-size at a copy shop.

In the early 1980s, she and Jim revamped the place with pool tables and renamed it Aaron’s, after their grandson. In a 2002 remodel, the name was changed to Vintage Cafe with the focus on dining and cocktails that remains today.

The Stanifords invited me to dine, but I wanted an excuse to go back.

I recently went with Herald social media guy Ben Watanabe, a social butterfly who has eaten there many times.

We went on a rainy Friday afternoon, before the dinner rush. We sat near a photo of the Herald building on the brick-exposed wall.

The dining room was warm and inviting, a haven from the wet and gray. We could have stayed there for hours if we didn’t each have previous obligations that pretty much forced us to eat and run. Seriously, we only stayed long enough for me to drink half of Ben’s bottle of beer.

Next time, we’ll allow more time. The Vintage is a place to linger.

Here’s what Ben said:

“At The Vintage, I trust that whatever I order I’ll enjoy. It’s not flashy, exotic or a stretch of the palate. But that’s not the point of going somewhere that often advertised being the best fish and chips in town on its sidewalk-hanging marquee.

“When my friends and I agree to meet at The Vintage, it’s because a bunch of people with varying appetites and tastes are likely to find something they want, not just something they can stomach. For me, that often ends up as the clubhouse sandwich. Somehow, I’d never had the fish and chips here, probably because I’m a sucker for the clubhouse. But I gave it a go, and while I’m not ready to declare it the best fish and chips, it’s pretty darn good. Not too heavy on the breading/batter, which isn’t my preferred taste, but with plenty of crunch to contrast and complement the cod.

“We also had the fries and gravy, aka poutine ($5.99). It was OK, but at that point the poutine was probably a carb too far for me, on top of the fish and chips.

“Breakfast is really the wheelhouse there, and on the weekends it is a popular haunt. They deliver on their eggs and bacon, every time, without fail.

“Being in downtown Everett, the location is convenient for pre- and post-shopping breaks, music, bar-hopping, theater and Xfinity Arena events.

“The walk is always a pleasant reminder of the pedestrian-friendly nature of Everett’s one-time (and hoped-for again) commercial core.”

•••

I was glad Ben ordered fish and chips ($10.99 for 3 pieces). About time he got out of his clubhouse rut.

Besides, it gave me the chance to order the clubhouse ($8.99), one of my favorite sandwiches.

The bread was toasted just right. Inside was a mecca of soft meat with crispy bacon. It was tied with Totem Family Diner for the best clubhouse ever.

I also ordered the pot roast ($12.99) as a carryout for my son, a braised beef connoisseur. “I don’t usually like pot roast from restaurants because it’s always dry and chewy,” he said. “It was soft and juicy with gravy that melted in your mouth. You don’t get gravy like that just anywhere. That was special gravy.”

The menu is extensive. It even includes liver and onions ($12.99). I’m not a fan, but I made the mistake of telling my husband and he scolded me for not bringing him some. He loves the stuff.

Guess we’ll have to go back. After all, a peach martini is calling my name.

Andrea Brown at 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.

Vintage Cafe

1510 Hewitt Ave., Everett; 425-252-8224; www.thevintagecafe.net.

Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 10 p.m Saturday. Happy Hour, 3 to 6 p.m. daily.

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