Lunch at The Braeburn is worth the wait

By RJ Benner

By RJ Benner

rbenner@whidbeynewsgroup.com

Last Saturday, my family and I decided to shop in Langley. We ventured up and down the shopping district, walked along the water, and of course my 7-year-old insisted he saw a whale and rang the bell. With our shopping finished, and our photo opps over, we headed to The Braeburn for lunch.

Upon arrival, I realized that even in November, on a cloudy day, getting on the waitlist ahead of time would have been wise. There was such a wonderful aroma coming from the restaurant that signaled it would be worth the 45-minute estimated wait. My wife took advantage of the extra time to sneak in a little more bookstore shopping, and next door at the fire station, they were running a bubble machine that served as a perfect distraction for a hungry child.

Once inside and seated, we received our water in local handcrafted glasses. We scanned the QR code located on the table to see the menu online, which I admit I absolutely love. The idea of touching a menu is fine until you end up with one that has grape jelly and syrup in between the pages.

As I perused the menu options that ranged from the healthy, to the absolutely mouth-watering, we landed on our choices. Our 7-year-old went with his go-to meal of choice, macaroni and cheese. I ordered the Cubano sandwich, and my wife the BLT. This was perfect for me since I knew I could enjoy my sandwich and steal bites of hers. With our food orders placed, it came time for drinks — since it was a chilly day, hot cocoa with whip cream for the table.

I was impressed with the attention the staff gave, ensuring without being prompted that the hot chocolate for the child was significantly cooler than our hot chocolate. As a parent, I appreciate those little things when I forget to bring it up. There is nothing that can derail a lovely lunch more than a hot spill or burnt tongue.

As the food arrived, I finally matched the outside aroma that I first experienced, to the food sitting in front of me: slow roasted pork. I believe my subconscious made the match before I could and led me to selecting the Cubano. If that is the case, I need to let it make more of my food decisions, because the sandwich was absolutely delicious. The melding of flavors, with their Cubano sauce, ham, cheese, pork and sweet pickles was different than I had expected and not like Cuban sandwiches I have had in the past. This one had its own unique flavor. The size of the sandwich belies its heft. Piled with pork, layered with ham and cheese, this sandwich was extremely filling.

I managed to only finish half of the sandwich before needing to move on to try the apple bacon potato salad. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this dish, but the bacon flavor was very subtle, and with a strong flavor of what I determined to be dill, turned what I had expected to be a sweeter potato salad into one with a good balance and an interesting bouquet of flavor.

As I mentioned earlier, my wife ordered the BLT. Even though I was flirting with eating too much, and needing to go home and take a nap, I took advantage of her offer to share. A BLT is a classic sandwich. It’s hard to get wrong but also hard to stand out.

The amount of bacon was almost too much (her words not mine, those words would never be said by me) but the quality and thickness of the bacon was a pleasant surprise, and they cooked it exactly as requested — extra crunchy, not burnt. Which in my experience is a hard feat to accomplish with bacon. It certainly passed the visual test, and when it came time for the taste test, I immediately regretted not trying to order some hybrid, off-menu half-Cubano half-BLT sandwich. I had mistaken the dijon sauce for horseradish, which may have been a result of my palette being punch-drunk from all the unique flavors it had just experienced. Regardless of the reasoning, the horseradish/dijon flavor stood out just enough to give the sandwich a memorable flavor that has left me really needing to make another trip south to try even more savory menu items.

In my opinion The Braeburn is well worth the wait.

Cubano