The Peach Café brings a vivid, modern breakfast experience to Old Town Monrovia.
Nita Millstein opened The Peach Café in Old Town Monrovia on May 2, 2005, naming her Southern-tinged eatery for the popular fruit’s sweet flesh and vibrant color. Normally limited to breakfast and lunch, Nita keeps additional dinner hours on Friday nights to coincide with Monrovia’s Family Festival street fair, which runs weekly from March through Christmas. I’d eaten breakfast and lunch at The Peach several times, always with success, so I was intrigued to sample the expanded dinner menu.
The 96-year-old building was originally used as a garage and last housed a Christian bookstore. No axel grease or Bibles are in evidence, but authentic brick walls and exposed wood beams remain.
Millstein recruited funky Glendale artist Robert Brady to populate the space with his colorful 3-D pieces. His centerpiece is a twisted wood chandelier strewn with red Christmas lights and shimmering Mardi Gras beads. Brady even designed the café’s peach logo and supporting metal branch. If you’re not interested in banquettes or stand-alone tables, there’s a plant-lined patio.
Breakfast is available all day, highlighted by massive buttermilk pancakes, four to an order, studded with plump blueberries and seasoned with orange juice. I really enjoyed their citrus kick.
Weekends only, Millstein offers crisp chocolate waffles.
Even The Peach Cafe’s basic Belgian waffle was an airy hit.
Instead of Hollandaise and English muffins, Millstein’s eggs Benedict stars molten white cheddar and Belgian waffles blended with Nueske bacon, maple syrup and cornmeal. Even the ham is better, salty country ham instead of staid city ham.
The Peach Café features several unique sides at breakfast and lunch, including bourbon-mashed sweet potatoes, rich with potent liquor but still plenty sweet.
Breakfast potatoes are equally stellar. Skin-on russets are folded with red onions, scallions and cream and grilled until crusty.
Millstein stacks her innovative Open-Face HBAB with country Ham slabs and oozing Brie, sprinkled with scallions and slathered with Apple Butter. It’s a sandwich of contrasts, simultaneously salty, creamy and sweet. For my side, I selected phenomenal scalloped potatoes, flavored with cream, “spices,” nutmeg and white cheddar.
The Texas Melt is a heavier lunch option teaming La Brea Bakery focaccia with house-roasted turkey breast slices, barbecue sauce, yellow cheddar, tomatoes, and crispy onion rings. I don’t know what any of those ingredients have to do with Texas, except for maybe the barbecue sauce, but the sandwich is still delicious.
Nita previously mentioned enticing Friday night specials like pork roast stuffed with figs and prosciutto, pecan-crusted halibut, and “the world’s best meatloaf,” made with beef, pork, Dijon mustard and yogurt. Unfortunately, none of options were available.
Chicken Marsala ($14.95) was commendable, half a luscious bird doused with Marsala sauce and mushrooms. The pricey poultry was served with Brussels sprout-like green cauliflower florets and a mound of steamed white rice.
Choose among several sumptuous smoothies, including mango, cranberry-raspberry and surprise, surprise, peach. The rich mango smoothie came crowned with a dollop of whipped cream.
It took Millstein and her staff months to “perfect” The Peach Café’s signature coffee blends, focusing on foam-capped mocha lattes and elemental coffee.
Baker Cate Manzo has created an arsenal of pies, cakes and cookies. In summer, expect blackberry pies with thumb-sized berries, streusel-topped fruit bars, and golden raisin oatmeal cookies.
In the fall, of course they serve cinnamon-tinged apple pie, but you’ll also find more unusual offerings like this generous wedge of pear pie.
When available, cakes include carrot sprinkled with coconut flakes and Meyer lemon, made with citrus from a local tree.
The Peach Cafe’s slice of streusel-topped blueberry pie burst with tiny berries.
Monrovia is situated in outer reaches of the San Gabriel Valley, easily an hour round-trip from my apartment, but The Peach Café’s food maybe worth leaving a carbon footprint 60 miles wide.
The Peach Café was full both visits, but there wasn’t a line out the door. Monrovians clearly don’t know how good they have it for breakfast. Maybe it’s because Monrovia is situated in outer reaches of the San Gabriel Valley, easily an hour round-trip from my apartment, but The Peach Café’s food maybe worth leaving a carbon footprint 60 miles wide.