Have you ever had order envy?
You know the feeling: You’ve just finished sopping up that last bit of egg yolk, satisfied at the end of a filling breakfast, when the server passes your table with the most delightful-looking dish of french toast you’ve ever seen — towering over the plate and smothered in gooey caramel syrup and nuts.
We had that very feeling at the Briarfield Café in Maumee, a pleasant little diner in a small plaza facing Salisbury Road. It’s a place where order envy is probably a common experience for uninitiated visitors. The menu is typical American fare: eggs and sausage for breakfast, burgers and sandwiches for lunch, and a variety of classic dishes for dinner, with quality ranging from pretty good to “oh, wow.” Everything we tried was solid and enjoyable, but the few standouts were enough to inspire jealousy in less-fortunate diners.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 1/2
Address: 3220 Briarfield Blvd., Maumee
Hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Wheelchair access: Yes
Average Price: $-$$
Credit cards: AE, MC, V, D
The restaurant’s interior is very gray: gray walls, gray tablecloths, gray carpet. A wallpaper mural of a French cityscape in muted colors spans one wall. It’s all very new and clean and, much like the menu, inviting but fairly simple, with a few flourishes to give it character. Daily specials, soups, and desserts are touted in faux-chalkboard wall art adorned with seasonal red ribbons.
We started with the soup of the day (Bean and Ham) and a crock of French Onion Soup. Bean soup can often be too salty, but this version, while a bit thin and watery, had a great balance of flavors. The French Onion Soup, meanwhile, was savory and delicious, topped with a thick layer of melted cheese.
The Briarfield’s dinner options are quite varied with a few regular specials including all-you-can-eat Spaghetti ($7.99) on Tuesdays and all-you-can-eat Alaskan Pollock ($8.95, fried or broiled) on Fridays. At our server’s recommendation, we tried the Beef Stroganoff ($8.99) and the Smothered Chicken ($8.99). The Stroganoff is one of those jealousy-inspiring dishes: a huge portion of roast beef, gravy, and a dollop of sour cream on a bed of homemade noodles. Much like the soup, it was flavorful and not too salty. The chicken, however, was less impressive. Served with a plain baked potato and a small dish of green beans, the grilled chicken was topped with mushrooms, onions, peppers, and cheese. Unfortunately, the mild flavors didn’t mix as well as you might expect, and the chicken itself was slightly dry.
We ordered an Onion Rings appetizer with our meal. Fried in the same batter used for the all-you-can-eat fish, the rings were too oily to really enjoy. The restaurant touts on its menu that it doesn’t use trans fats. Good thing, because the fatty rings left a puddle of grease in the bottom of the serving dish!
The restaurant has a lineup of fresh salads. We tried the Greek Salad ($6.49 small, $7.49 large), which sported a-bit-too-dry slices of chicken for $2 extra, and the Strawberry Spinach Salad ($6.49 small, $7.49 large), which we absolutely loved. Covered in sweet, fresh slices of strawberry, a layer of shaved almonds, and raspberry vinaigrette dressing, it was brimming with bright, sweet flavors.
The Briarfield has a lineup of sandwiches and burgers, including an off-the-menu offering our server called the Bistro Burger (topped with onion rings and tangy sauce). Instead, we went with the Parmigiana sandwich ($7.49), a breaded chicken breast served on a bun with marinara and mozzarella cheese. The sandwich was appealing to look at, but the sauce was a little too sweet and the chicken a little too bland to stand out. Meanwhile, the Corned Beef Reuben ($7.49) was a fine example of the sandwich, with crisp marbled rye and tangy sauce really complementing the meat’s rich flavor. It came with homemade potato chips fried in fresh oil that were crispy but not too greasy.
For dessert, we tried the signature Briarfield Brownie Sundae ($4.49), which drew the attention of a guest at a nearby table. “Looks awful,” he said with an ironic chuckle and a smile. With mounds of ice cream drizzled with chocolate and caramel over a thick, fudgy brownie base, it was another dish to envy.
In all, the Briarfield offers a solid dining experience of mostly above-average meals with a few standouts that really shine. As a family owned eatery, it’s certainly a cut above the chain restaurants and all-day breakfast diners in its class.
And speaking of breakfast, the Briarfield offers a daily special of two eggs, home fries, toast, and coffee for $3.49. It’s a great deal, and the home fries are really good, cut thick and fried until they have a crunchy crust.
But next time, we’re getting the french toast.
Contact Bill of Fare at: email@example.com.