I remember being really into the Brea Lu Cafe in the ’90s and early 2000s when it was on Forest Avenue in Portland. I didn’t go very often, but always enjoyed it when I did, especially the incredible display of kitschy coffee mugs. But time marches on, interests ebb and flow, and the Brea Lu and I drifted apart as sometimes happens.
I do, however, remember experiencing a moment of “Hey, old friend, good to know you’re still around,” when I heard it had moved to Westbrook after a fire in the Forest Avenue building, and I paid the new spot my first visit in January. I met a friend for a late morning Saturday brunch and promptly had my first bloody mary in several years. It was so tasty I had another. Suffice it to say, my friend drove us to our post-feeding shopping adventure. I also remember having an egg situation for breakfast, but to be honest, I don’t quite recall what it was, thanks to the aforementioned cocktails. I do remember how busy the place was and how we had to wait for a table. I was glad to see my old pal Brea Lu was doing well in its new location.
Fast forward to a recent entirely too cold and windy Friday, when I left my desk in search of sustenance and decided to give the second half of Brea Lu (Breakfast Lunch, get it?) a try.
I rolled in at about 12:30 p.m., and it was pretty chill in there, so I got a table right away. I get the feeling that the weekend is when the place really goes gangbusters. Anyway, starving, I debated between breakfast and lunch options and decided on a cup of the soup of the day, which was French onion ($4.99), and the turkey club ($9.99). Judge me if you must, but I got it on white toast. I like to think of my taste as “retro-Americana.”
My soup arrived a few minutes later, and it was love at first sight and, as it turns out, taste. The many croutons floating atop the soup were magnificently covered in melted cheese, likely put under a broiler for just the right amount of time. Yum!
The turkey club with bacon on my beloved white toast served with a healthy handful of rippled potato chips was just what I wanted: basic deliciousness that didn’t stray from the standard and didn’t need to. It hit the spot and I came darn close to eating every single morsel, like the Grinch who took even the last crumb from Cindy Lou Who’s house on Christmas Eve.
The interior of Brea Lu is unremarkable but comfortable. The waitress was very friendly and checked on me many times (but not too many). I spend most of my money on concert tickets and music so an affordable joint like Brea Lu suits my non-foodie heart just fine.
WHERE: 9 Cumberland St., Westbrook. 591-0611. On Facebook
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily
WAIT: Less than five minutes for soup and sandwich courses
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes