Chef-owner Rodney Worth already had made a name for himself with his rustic, comfort food at The Peasant & The Pear in Danville.
So when he opened The Peasant's Courtyard in Alamo, I wondered how he would distinguish his new enterprise from his flagship restaurant.
The immediate answer: location. In the former Courtyard Cafe spot, Worth's new restaurant inherits a pleasant stone-courtyard setting, tucked behind a gate and surrounded by small offices. Flowers spring up from planters, patio umbrellas shade chairs and tables, and the gentle rush of water from a fountain easily makes one forget the traffic on the main road a few hundred feet away.
Inside, the soft greens and country-style curtains of Courtyard Cafe have given way to a warm rustic charm, highlighted by beige tones, old-time photos and prints and gorgeous pendant lights over the bar. The setting is more casual than at The Peasant & The Pear. Here, you won't find tablecloths and the wood counter is more diner-style than sleek wine bar.
But it suits the cafe crowd, appealing to those who frequented the former establishment while also drawing longtime fans of Worth. Plus, you will find a couple of Worth's most prized dishes — the pulled pork sandwich and bistro burger — on The Peasant's Courtyard menu. Better still, each is a dollar cheaper.
All about the food
Worth likes to
Occasionally, he missed where my taste buds were concerned. His seasoned breakfast potatoes and Spanish smoked paprika fries were too heavily coated with paprika. I prefer country potatoes that are crisp; these breakfast potatoes were too gritty. And the flatiron steak tips in the black and blue salad ($12.95) tasted fatty; I would have preferred seasoned tri-tip.
But the exceptional flavors of what Worth does best more than compensated for the occasional miss.
His pulled pork sandwich ($9.95) was ingenious. The pork came drenched in a cabernet barbecue sauce that was both tangy and sweet. Coleslaw was piled atop — yes, inside the sandwich. It added an interesting crunch that had my husband reaching for second and third bites.
The bistro burger ($9.95) was a classic hamburger cooked to order and juicy from start to finish. But do yourself a favor and spend an extra buck to get the Rodzilla burger. Jazzed up with crispy fried onions and barbecue sauce, the burger tasted like something you would find in a Texas barbecue joint.
Even breakfast got creative, with distinct cinnamon flavor in the thick slices of French toast ($7.95) and strawberry jam instead of raspberry on the Monte Cristo sandwich ($10.95).
I visited on a Sunday evening and a Thursday morning only a few weeks after the restaurant opened.
Work in progress
Quite apparent: The Peasant's Courtyard is still a work in progress. The soda was flat, and the Arnold Palmer (lemonade and iced tea) was weak. Half the tables were empty for dinner on Sunday, but I'm sure that will change once the restaurant starts serving wine. (Manager Steven Patrick said a license is "in the works.")
Meanwhile, the breakfast crowd was large and steady, a testament to the restaurant's real strengths: great food and attentive service.
The staff is friendly and the kitchen is exceptionally fast. Only one big glitch kept the service from being great. We never got the bruschetta ($5.95) we ordered as our starter at dinner. But our entrees arrived less than 15 minutes after we ordered them, and the missing appetizer never showed up on the bill.
Dessert — a miniature whole, hot, caramel-apple pie with streusel topping ($5.95) — also sounded better than it tasted. There was too much crust and the apples were too firm, but the scoop of vanilla bean ice cream was huge.
Generous portion sizes are a definite constant at The Peasant's Courtyard. I couldn't finish the French toast and wasn't even hungry by lunchtime.
The quality of food and charm that have made The Peasant & The Pear so popular are certainly evident at The Peasant's Courtyard. In time, the glitches common in newly opened restaurants likely will work themselves out.
It's very easy for me to picture myself sitting in the courtyard, sipping a glass of wine, as we ease into summer. The real question is what will I order to eat.
Reach Ann Tatko-Peterson at atatko@bayarea newsgroup.com.
Mondays-Thursdays, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays and 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays.
Artois beer-battered artichoke hearts, tomato bisque and veggie burger. Breakfast includes French toast, pancakes and meatless scrambles and omelets.
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