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Restaurant lunch highlights:

Thinking brunch: Peach Valley Cafe

The joys of a Peach Valley Café brunch

By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

zzGLOBbullet Follow this link for a Peach Valley Cafe lunch feature

Sunday brunch is one of those lovely occasions where anything goes; rolling out of bed and donning your softest sweatshirt, you can roll into a restaurant booth, or you can throw on a pair of wedges and a sun dress and head out with your best girl friends.

Needless to say, I love brunch.

peachvalleyHOLLYSo when my friend, Holly, was back in town, I thought, "What better way to catch up on some much-needed girl talk than at Sunday brunch?"

When Holly said, to my disbelief, that she had never been to Peach Valley Café, I knew that was our destination. It has been my favorite breakfast/brunch spot since I came to school in Gainesville over three years ago, and I find any excuse to take friends and family there whenever possible.

And I suddenly had a craving for apple fritters, but more on those soon.

peachvalleyFRITTERSIt was no surprise that at 11 a.m. on Sunday this breakfast/lunch hotspot was teeming with hungry customers — I can only assume they had a hankering for the famous apple fritters, too. Booths were filled with families, a birthday celebration or two, and hungry GLOBers in need of a good meal after a late night. As soon as our very friendly server arrived, we ordered our drinks and I, without hesitation, added, "And a full order of the apple fritters, please." My friend's wide eyes and eagerness to keep eating the warm, apple-filled balls of brown sugar-coated baked dough dipped in refreshing strawberry yogurt confirmed a successful first experience with what I consider one of the most amazing breakfast items in Gainesville.

And Holly is one picky eater.

peachvalleyWAFFLESAfter much encouragement from me and my previous experiences with what I feel is some of the best French toast in Gainesville, Holly settled on the Peach Valley French Toast. I courageously ventured to try the intriguing-sounding chicken and waffles.

I confess: In all my years and my time spent in Gainesville amongst many PeachvalleyFRENCHTOASTsouthern food restaurants, I have never had chicken and waffles. It has been on my to-do list for some time now, and I am pleased to say I don't think I could have had a better first experience.

I could not hide my surprise as the server brought out a delicately crafted tent-like shape of Belgian waffles with an orb of blueberry butter on top, accompanied by multiple thick, fried chicken tenders and a side of Cajun syrup. A puzzling combinations of flavors on the menu had immediately caught this food adventurer's attention. Then, it puzzled my taste buds the same way.

peachvalleystorefrontThe fried chicken was tender and soft; the savory — and what I assume is handmade — breading was crispy and almost sweet. The Belgian waffles were fluffy and tasted as fresh as the chicken. I was aware that the lilac and blueberry-speckled butter was meant for the waffles, but the Cajun syrup was a mystery. This spicy-sweet flavor pairing was as contradictory as that of chicken and waffles, but it worked. Unsure of what to combine with what, I tried as many flavor combinations as my taste buds would allow: blueberry butter-coated waffle, waffle dipped in Cajun syrup, chicken dipped in Cajun syrup, chicken and waffle combined together and so on. Just to give myself a sense of normalcy, I allowed myself a side of regular syrup with the waffles, too.

Perhaps it was my tired state of mind, but I cannot quite figure if fried chicken is meant for a breakfast menu. However, the unique take on this southern dish was well-received by this food explorer. As always, Peach Valley leaves me, and my companion on this occasion, satiated and with chicken and waffle leftovers.

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