Some days nothing can cure what ails you more than the familiar dishes conjured with love from Mom’s or Grandma’s kitchen. A stack of pancakes slathered in syrup, a slice of pie topped with ice cream, or a cookie dipped in milk combined with good conversation can provide comfort unrivaled by yoga class, meditation or the therapist’s couch. However, as good as they are, Mom or Grandma might find themselves competing with Sumner’s Berryland Café as a provider of comfort food served in a welcoming atmosphere.
When owners Lola and Nolan Burslie purchased the restaurant from David and Yung Singer in 1999, they were equipped with Lola’s restaurant management experience, Nolan’s rhubarb farming experience and a dream. The Singers gave them two pieces of valuable advice: one, don’t flip the hash browns until they turn brown around the edges, and two, make time to talk to people. They come here to feel as if they belong.
“They were right,” says Lola. “Customers are like family. We’ve seen multiple generations of families come in together for meals since we’ve opened.”
“This is their place. No membership required,” says Nolan. The Berryland’s customer base is broad. It consists of locals and out-of-town visitors of all ages who come to enjoy a good meal and casual dining experience. Berryland also enjoys a steady stream of senior citizen residents who gather for warm drinks and conversation on weekday mornings. Tuesday mornings are Nolan’s favorite day at the restaurant because his buddies come in to discuss politics over coffee.
Of course, good conversation isn’t the only thing on the menu. The Berryland offers casual, everyday food made from certified organic ingredients purchased from local suppliers such as Duck Delivery, Windmill Gardens, Knutson Farms and Sterino Farms. These quality ingredients are used to create meals such as eggs any style (except benedict), western omelets, waffles, pancakes, biscuits and gravy (SOS), oatmeal, soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, ice cream treats, pie and cookies. The most popular items are the American mainstays – omelets, SOS and pie. But if cookies are your weakness, you won’t be able to walk away without trying a soft and chewy peanut butter, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin or ginger cookie made by their sons Tim and Mike.
Given that Sumner is the Rhubarb Capital of the World, it only makes sense that rhubarb treats can be purchased in this home-style cafe. The Berryland offers freezer jams, pie and handcrafted organic rhubarb teas.
All meals that come with toast are accompanied by mini containers of strawberry-rhubarb, raspberry-rhubarb, marionberry-rhubarb or apricot-rhubarb freezer jam that tastes as if Mom just made them. The fruit for these confections is sourced from Knutson Farms in Sumner.
Lola’s to-die-for rhubarb pies are famous with any return customer. She has spent years perfecting her just plain rhubarb and strawberry-rhubarb creations. Neither of which will disappoint even the pickiest eater. The pies are popular items year-round, but they make the Rhubarb Capital especially proud during the Sumner Rhubarb Days in July. Pie is sold by the slice or the entire pie for those who choose to bring some home. If you’re just not a rhubarb fan, then marionberry, apple, lemon meringue, chocolate cream, coconut cream and banana cream pie are also options.
If pie and jam aren’t enough rhubarb cuisine for you, the Berryland’s own brand of handcrafted organic rhubarb teas (made in Tacoma) might suit your fancy. Clear diffusers filled with raspberry rhubarb, strawberry-cranberry rhubarb, ginger-lemon rhubarb, peachy-apple rhubarb or marionberry rhubarb tea arrive at your table. Watch the beauty of the steeped ingredients drip into your cup before it warms your belly.
As we parted ways, Nolan shared this bit of rhubarb trivia: The first cutting of rhubarb is the reddest. The more cuttings you take from the plant, the lighter the stalks get until they are green. The green stalks taste no different than the bright red ones – they’re all slightly bitter and need some sugar.
The Berryland Cafe is open Monday through Saturday from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If you just can’t leave without a memento, “Rhubarb Pie Capital” t-shirts or “Got ?” (that’s the number pi for non-math folks) t-shirts are available for purchase.
1101 Main Street
Sumner, WA 98390