Thursday, July 23, 2009

Food: Peach Valley Cafe

Sometimes you can tell when a restaurant is set to hit the big time. I felt that way after I walked out of Peach Valley Cafe, a Florida-based chain owned by the same people behind Stonewood Grill. Peach Valley Cafe serves mainly breakfast and lunch (the Gainesville location is open for dinner until 8:00 p.m.), and I stopped in to check them out.

I sat at the lunch counter (bustling with other patrons, mostly officeworkers out for lunch) and so I got a close-up view of how the restaurant operates. Orders came in, orders came up, and the line cooks and servers did a good job of making sure the whole operation ran smoothly. All the dishes that were going out to customers - mostly burgers and breakfast plates - looked great.

For my part, I had the Pine Grove chicken sandwich, which features grilled chicken breast and bacon. The chicken breast could have been bigger, but it was cooked well, and the bacon was obviously fresh off the griddle (one of the benefits of offering late breakfast service). Couple that with some decent peach tea (which wasn't as cloyingly sweet as I thought it'd be) and you have a great casual lunch experience.

So why is the Peach Valley Cafe so set for expansion? First, the prices are in-line with other chain restaurants (about $7 for a burger). I also think the array of generic American casual fare should transplant well to many regions of the country; while there aren't too many standouts on the menu, there also don't seem to be many stinkers, either. Most of all, though, it's rare to find a place that does breakfast and lunch competently, which is where Peach Valley can outpace places like Applebee's and Chili's.

2/4 stars


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