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Marlaina’s Mediterranean Kitchen in Burien wears its heart on its sleeve.

Walk in from the rain, and absorb the warmth of the rich, mustard-colored walls and colorful tapestries. Sample the nightly specials, take your time ordering and appreciate how the owner seems intent on making this a family restaurant.

Enjoy it. In food and spirit, Marlaina’s offers a bridge between winter and summer: hearty, stewed and grilled meats to warm you in February, and cool vegetarian offerings that evoke picnics in July.

The menu: Appetizers, priced from $6.99 to $7.50, include baba ganoosh (roasted eggplant with tahini, lemon and garlic), tzatziki, tabbouleh and piyaz (pinto beans with ginger, garlic and tomatoes). Entrees feature kebabs with salmon, chicken, beef, lamb or combo ($14.50 to $17.50), kofte, minced lamb and beef ($14.50), chicken nutmeg ($14.95) and slow-braised beef or chicken stew ($14.50). All come with a scoop of basmati rice and a small green salad. Lunch specials are $12.

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What to write home about: The baba ganoosh, drizzled with pomegranate concentrate, was divine: goopy, garlicky and slightly tart. The gingery piyaz opened our palates, while the Mesopotamian special with slow-cooked lamb and beef had deep earthy flavors.

What to skip: The soggy dolmades (stuffed grape leaves). Also, if you’re parsley-averse, let your server know.

The setting: A comfortable, colorful storefront eatery with an open kitchen and seating for about 38. Warm dinner lighting and ample spacing between tables add an air of intimacy.

Summing up: A combination dinner with smaller portions of three entrees ($14.50), sweet chicken nutmeg ($14.95) and near-perfect baklava ($4.50) came to $45.45 with tax and tip. The combination appetizer and one entree could easily satisfy two people.

Susan Kelleher:

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