Monrovia’s Peach Cafe is still a perfect retreat
By Erica Wayne 10/27/2011
It is the best of times, it is the worst of times, to paraphrase Charles Dickens. The world, according to Harold Camping, who got it wrong in May and again Oct. 21, was supposed to end. On the other hand, Moammar Gadhafi is definitely dead.
Then again, Daylight Savings is about to end and Obama’s jobs bill just got defeated.
On the up side, Halloween is Monday night. But then again, that means it’s time for Christmas shopping and writing the annual letter; which is bad news, because money is short and the most newsworthy event of the year is that one of our cats was eaten by a coyote.
So, in these best of, worst of times, it’s a good thing we can turn to The Peach Café in Monrovia for celebration and/or solace. Whisper the word “peach” to me or my spouse (a ramblin’ wreck from Georgia Tech) and visions of Atlanta dance in our heads. So, when we first dined (well, actually, lunched since it closes by mid-afternoon) at The Peach Café about six years ago, we were expecting to find fried chicken, grits and biscuits with red-eye gravy.
We were soon disabused of our preconceptions. The Peach Café doesn’t specialize in southern, Creole or soul food. Instead it’s an upscale eatery that would be comfortable in any city or town in America. But it fits especially well in cute and cozy Monrovia, where a concentration of unique restaurants, one-of-a-kind shops and a main walking street make for fun browsing.
The Peach Café’s inviting plant-filled front porch can seduce you into lazing for quite a spell on a balmy afternoon; and the sleek Scandinavian style tables inside are pretty comfortable, so you can linger over breakfast or lunch, both served all day long, provided you don’t get the guilts about the people hovering to take your place.
It’s the breakfast menu that’s most intriguing, especially for an Atkins parolee like my husband and a Weight Watchers escapee like myself. Buttermilk pancakes with a touch of orange and whole blueberries baked in (alas, the price has almost doubled from $5.25 for a full order/$3.50 for a half back in 2005 to $8.95/$6.75 today) are just the kind of treat we like to find on a bill of fare.
Even better is the hickory maple waffle, stiffened with cornmeal, studded with smoky bacon and sweetened with syrup before baking ($10.95/$6.95). French toast is made with croissants and a spiced egg batter ($8.95); and homemade granola (with coconut, yum!) is served hot or cold ($7.95/$5.95) or heaped into a parfait with fresh fruit and yogurt ($7.95-small/$8.95-large).
Eggs come with a variety of breakfast meats ($10.95-$11.95) and either a half order of pancakes/waffles or bread and a choice of a Peach Café side. The most unique is bourbon sweet potato puree, but also superb are scalloped potatoes with cream, nutmeg and cheese.
How to choose?
I manage to get them all by ordering eggs and bacon with the hickory waffle and the two potato sides ($3.50 and $3.95) separately “for the table.”
All of Peach’s wraps and grilled Panini also come with a Peach Café side. Although I’m fixated on the aforementioned potato duo, the onion rings are truly excellent. The list also includes a great fresh fruit cup, green salad, cup of soup and French fries.
The open-face country ham, brie and apple butter ($10.95) is a treat. Peach uses pesto to liven up some classics, like their grilled chicken club with bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado ($11.95). And I’m quite fond of the vegetarian wrap with avocado, cucumber, roasted peppers and a cream cheese/sun-dried tomato spread ($10.95).
Peach’s chocolate waffle ($10.95/$6.95) is only available on weekends, along with other brunchy specials (such as eggs benedict); we’re averse to crowds, so I’ve never had either. But there’s plenty of chocolate to be found among the cafe’s everyday desserts. Each time I visit, I can’t help but plaster (figuratively) my nose up against the display case glass to admire the goodies.
They all go well with anything on their full-page coffee bar and drink menu. Peach Cafe’s coffee, they inform us, is a custom creation of three blends: house, mild and decaf. All were developed through months of selection and evaluation with The Peach Café’s roaster and are available exclusively at the café.
I’m not sure any of this is relevant to me, but a cup of Peach’s certainly passes muster, and their cups are gigantic. There are at least 16 variants with mocha, vanilla and espresso shots. Additionally, the restaurant serves a small but nicely chosen selection of wine and beer.
As I said in my original 2005 review, Monrovia is about as charming a place as any in Southern California, with a small-town feel. Nothing’s changed my mind in the past six years. Like South Pasadena, it’s still a welcome respite from the urban sprawl that’s oozing relentlessly outward from our more densely populated areas and turning every city into a clone of every other.
In protest, I’ve made it a point to do almost all my pre-holiday shopping in South Pasadena and Monrovia, where the stores aren’t quite as cookie-cutter, parking is still (mostly) free and there are charming restaurants like Peach Cafe to refresh flagging mid-day (and end-times) spirits.
141 E. Colorado Blvd., Monrovia
Beer and Wine/Major Cards