They had me at the entree-sized cinnamon roll.
Served in a skillet.
With a lake of icing and butter.
Then there’s the perfect Benedict, a big breakfast burrito and a grilled ham steak almost as big as your face.
The breakfast-and-lunch restaurant Meridian Cafe has returned to downtown Puyallup more than a year after a devastating fire at a neighboring business in October 2017 forced its closure. It reopened last week.
Puyallup already has a reputation for great full-service breakfasts. The addition of Meridian Cafe makes downtown an even better breakfast destination for the entire county.
Breakfast is not relegated to weekends in Puyallup. Daily breakfast service can be found at Cattin’s, Charlie’s, Jason’s, Mrs. Turners, The Rose Restaurant and newcomer West Pioneer Grill. Weekend breakfast service is offered at Crockett’s and other destinations downtown. Did I mention all the great coffee houses and quick-stop cafes in downtown, too?
Meridian Cafe is closer to the style of breakfast at Crockett’s, which should be no surprise considering the restaurants share ownership.
Shaun Brobak bought the old Auntee B’s at 213 N. Meridian in January 2017. He opened Crockett’s in 2011, about five years after he opened nearby Trackside Pizza. If you call Brobak anything, call him the restaurant king of Puyallup.
Here’s a first-bite report of Meridian Cafe. It’s this paper’s policy to skip criticism of food and service in a restaurant’s first month.
Major revisions: Former Auntee B’s diners who never made it to Meridian Cafe before that fire shuttered it won’t recognize the space.
The dining room has been modernized, which is something Brobak had started before the fire. The long closure gave him time to rework the space and flip out the kitchen.
There’s all new equipment in there, which Brobak thinks will allow him to expand the breakfast offerings at some point.
Those floors: I despise concrete floors because they bounce noise, but it is a sharp look against the wooden booths Broback added to the center of the restaurant.
More seating: There’s table seating at the back of the restaurant, along with a dine-in bar. A charming private room up front would be a great place for a family meal for eight.
A touch of charm: The decor embodies old-is-new-again with distressed tables painted to look antique and mismatched dining room chairs adding a touch of charm. The walls are festooned with fetching new murals that harken to the cafe’s former life as the original Meridian Cafe. Lots of layers of wood warms up the space.
The breakfast menu: The greatest hits of breakfast are represented with a succinct one-page breakfast menu that lists corned beef hash with eggs ($11.99), eggs Benedict ($12.99), a biscuits and gravy plate ($11.99), chicken fried steak and eggs ($12.99), a combo egg breakfast with a choice of breakfast meat ($10.99), two omelets and a build-your-own option ($8.99 to $10.99), pancakes, French toast or waffles ($7.99 to $9.50), three kinds of breakfast burritos ($10.99), three light-portion breakfast entrees at bargain prices ($6.25 to $7.99) and fancy oatmeal ($6.50).
Breakfast booze: Mimosas ($5.50), bloody Mary cocktails ($8) and more.
The lunch menu: Four burgers ($9.99 to $12.99), six sandwiches, including a French dip ($10.99), a BLT ($10.50) and turkey ($10.99) and a chef’s salad ($11.99).
On a first breakfast visit: Get the skillet cinnamon roll as a either a breakfast entree (it’s huge) or a shareable breakfast appetizer (because, why not?). It’s $5.99 and comes drenched in butter and a cream cheese icing.
The ham steak breakfast combo showed up on a platter-sized plate with crispy edged hashbrowns, a well-buttered English muffin and two eggs any way you want them ($10.99).
A breakfast burrito arrived grilled and thoughtfully cut in half for easy handheld eating. Gooey cheese glued together a steamy hot filling of breakfast sausage (or bacon or ham), green chiles, fluffy eggs and potatoes, with a side of salsa ($10.99). If a server asks if you’d like fresh avocado, the answer always should be yes ($2). Crispy waffle was flanked by whipped butter and warmed syrup (Log Cabin style) and two pieces of bacon ($9.50).
Eggs Benedict carried a silky drape of lemony hollandaise with medium poached eggs, thick-cut grilled ham on English muffins with a big portion of fried potatoes with onions and peppers ($12.99).
What’s next on the menu? Brobak said he’ll let diners decide. He said the restaurant reopened with its original menu, but it’s going to “let our guests tell us what it is they’d like to see us do. We have the capacity to bring on more items. We’re going to bring the same attention to quality that we do at Crockett’s to our breakfast menu,” he said.
Where: 213 N. Meridian, Puyallup
Info: 253-435-8833 or facebook.com/meridiancafepuyallup
Hours: 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily