On a grey Saturday at 9:45 a.m., people line the sidewalk along the eastern end of Colorado Boulevard in Old Town Monrovia. The Peach Cafe’s unassuming, charming exterior hides a buzzing, crowded interior packed full of patrons. The establishment itself is half outdoor covered brick patio, half coffee (and seemingly also wine) bar and seating within. At 9:45 a.m., the wait for small tables of walk-ins was around half an hour as six to seven parties queued. By 11:45 a.m., a small army of folks hungry for brunch waited both in the now-brilliant sunlight immediately outside, while still others sought the shade of trees along Ivy Avenue, studying menus.
There seemed to be a well-known yet unspoken knowledge of the cafe’s weekend specials: a constantly shifting menu that varies by the chef’s fancy along with some customer favorites. Recently, the egg specials – the “San Fran” scramble and the pasilla omelet – have remained alongside the ever-present house tater tots since they’ve been a hit with their patrons. But last Saturday and Sunday’s birria breakfast burrito, for instance, may not make a reappearance this coming weekend. Many weekend specials are seen once and gone; a peruse of the Peach Cafe’s Yelp page turns up a whole host of fan photos of dishes that might not make the rotation for a while…or ever again.
That surprise is perhaps what drives the reservations for the cafe on the weekend; they’re often booked up completely by Wednesday for the coming Saturday and Sunday. They have limited space and thus limited reservations, and those spots are snatched up quickly.
Once you do get your table, though, you have a full breakfast and lunch menu and delightful refreshments from which to choose. Their special mimosa flights allow for sampling from three juices out of many: strawberry, guava, mango, blueberry, and peach; and they also offer classic brunch drinks like Bloody Marys and cold brews. And while on the weekend you could technically still order off their normal menus, you can try any of those items during the weekday from their usual hours of 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. On the weekend, you’ve definitely got to try out that exclusive special menu, so sample it we did.
A brunch enthusiast, I eyed the fluffy pancakes topped with strawberries and dusted generously with powdered sugar, alongside many other tasty dishes that passed by, with a covetous eye before our waiter brought us our brunch appetizer of tater tots.
Hopefully you can sort of tell from the photo, but these six tater tots were each the size of four normal tater tots, served steaming hot and garnished with spicy ketchup, sour cream, bacon bits, and green onion. The perfect crunch of the fried exterior gave way to the soft, gently cheesy potato interior. Happily, the tots weren’t overly salty, and the majority of the salt came from the bacon bits. And while I didn’t notice that much heat from the spicy ketchup, the ketchup and sour cream married into a wonderfully tangy, creamy combo. Each bite was a harmonious mouthful of potato happiness.
To level with you, I ordered the San Fran scramble because it seemed like a more balanced and nutritious option and I wanted to offset the rest of the brunch gluttony. And while I chose the scramble for its healthfulness, it still tasted pretty dang good, too. Mushrooms, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, fluffy eggs, topped with a bed of fresh arugula – you can’t really go wrong! Apparently there was some goat cheese in there, but I didn’t manage to taste too much of those distinctive goat cheese flavors. The scramble came with a choice of breakfast side and bread, so I went for the breakfast potatoes and a piece of sourdough. The breakfast potatoes will appease a potato craving, with a good chewy texture, not too soft, and roasted to a beautiful caramel hue. The sourdough was pleasantly soft, the crust astonishingly so, but didn’t feature as much of that signature tang as I personally would have liked. The scramble was a more healthful but still satisfying brunch plate.
The Cafe Benedict stacked slices of Black Forest ham and two fried eggs atop a soft, fresh waffle (though there was also the option to choose cornbread), all slathered in a Mornay cheese sauce, which is basically a bechamel sauce with cheese, usually Gruyere, added to it. The waffle made for a great receptacle for the egg yolk and Mornay sauce, both of which offset the saltiness of the ham nicely. I’m sure that the cornbread base would also bring something interesting to the party, but if given the choice, I would order the Cafe Benedict on the waffle again. The Mornay sauce was a welcome change from the often-ubiquitous hollandaise, still tasting decadent without being too heavy.
So this was probably one of the best French toasts I’ve had; of the many excellent breakfast carbs, I tend to prefer pancakes over French toast and waffles, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved both the waffle for the Cafe Benedict and the amazing loaded French toast. The fluffy brioche sang with cinnamon and sugar notes, loaded with diced banana, strawberry slices, toasted almond slices, and miniature chocolate chips. No syrup required, this breakfast dessert was the perfect mixture of spice from the cinnamon, sweet from the sugar, bananas, and chocolate, brightness from the strawberries, and the nuttiness of the almonds. The mini chocolate chips limited the power of the chocolate so it never overpowered any of the bites, and I didn’t feel like the lack of syrup made them too dry at any point. Genuinely, mind blown, and I hope they reappear on the menu very soon!
I appreciate the Peach Cafe’s focus on breakfast and lunch; we need some more love for our daytime meals! The weekend menu felt and tasted like a brunch indulgence, but at $12 for the French toast and $12.50 for each of the egg dishes, there was no guilt in this treat. And please remember – if you are keen to stop in and try some of those exclusive weekend menu items, give them a call at the beginning of the week beforehand to reserve your table!
The Peach Cafe
141 E. Colorado Blvd.
Monrovia, CA 91016