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Restaurant Review - Sideboard Neighborhood Coffee House and Kitchen, 411 Hartz Ave., Danville, CA 94526

Posted at 1:59 PM, Sep. 5, 2008

It may seem strange to review a coffee house under the title “Restaurant Review” but Sideboard is really not so easy to categorize.
A relative newcomer to the Danville restaurant scene, Sideboard occupies the space in the old Danville Hotel that was vacated by Lisa B’s restaurant. This has one of the most appealing ambiences of any restaurant in the area and it is hard to understand why any restaurant serving average to good food should not be able to make a success here. Sadly, Lisa B’s failed. Sideboard, on the other hand, already has a loyal following.

In England, we have a peculiarly English phenomenon that is known as a wine bar. Somewhere you can enjoy a glass or a bottle of wine or beer, optionally have a bite to eat - anything from a snack to a full-blown meal - and just hang out with friends and enjoy the surroundings.

Sideboard is an English wine bar!

Not content to just move in to the already attractive space, owners Erin and Ford Andrews have made major improvements including removing a wall to incorporate the conservatory are into the main area, making worthwhile changes to the bar and introducing attractive shabby chic furniture with comfortable seating. It all works well!

Sylvia and I visited on Tuesday after Labor Day for a light evening meal. We were immediately welcomed by the friendly staff who explained the system to us. At sideboard, you order and pay at the counter then find a table and your food and drinks are delivered to your table (just like an English wine bar).
The menu is mostly made up of salads, sandwiches and some pasta dishes. Sylvia ordered the Beef burger with fries (this is so out of character!) but opted for walnut bread on the side rather than the normal Acme bun. I had Papardelle Carbonara.

Both of these dishes were absolutely outstanding and portion sizes were good. Sideboard use organic and natural food wherever possible and it shows. I think even the peas in my Carbonara were fresh rather than frozen and Sylvia’s Beef burger tasted like grass fed steak. Pasta Carbonara is a favorite of mine and I can tell a good one. Papardelle is not a common variant but it really worked here. I will find it difficult to order anything else at Sideboard, it was that good.

The wine list here is fairly short and seems a little light on less expensive wines. We accompanied our meal with a bottle of Artesa Chardonnay ($38). This is a little more than I expected to spend on wine although this really is an excellent  Chardonnay.

But I think the secret of Sideboard’s continuing success will be that it can be whatever you like. They open all day from breakfast to dinner. It can be your local coffee shop (serving Bluebottle coffee) where you can also have a pastry if you like. And they look delicious. Or just call in for a glass or bottle of wine or beer. Sylvia and I dined inside to experience the ambience but you can hang out on the patio at the front of the Danville Hotel if you like and just watch the world go by.
Sideboard may be a newcomer to Danville but I guarantee that they are here to stay. This is one of the best additions to the Danville restaurant scene in years. You can expect to see me there. Often!

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