HEART OF PALM Orchestria Palm Court owner Mark Williams plans to offer healthy foodÑand share his vintage musical machines. Photograph by Geoffrey Smith
Upon entering the SOFA district’s newest restaurant, one’s senses are met by the trappings of a bygone era: the sound of an upbeat early ragtime tune played by an antique player piano, the hissing of a fizzy beverage being prepared at the soda fountain and the smell of freshly popped popcorn prepared by an old-fashioned machine.
Located on William street next-door to San Jose Stage Company, Orchestria Palm Court offers the feel of an early 20th-century bistro, but with a modern menu designed with the health-conscious in mind. Owner Mark Williams, who previously worked as an engineer, says he was always fascinated by the mechanics of electric pianos and vintage jukeboxes. The restaurant, which itself is a restored building from the same era, houses close to a dozen different vintage musical machines from the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as antique art nouveau musical posters, which serve as decoration in the skylight-lit dining room.
Williams says he wants the restaurant to have a casual, welcome feel where guests can come hear old-time melodies while enjoying their meal, or just a glass of wine or beer before the theater. His primary interest, however, was a concern with the lack of healthy restaurant options in downtown San Jose, noting that there were few places that offered farm-to-table style dining or health-conscious ingredients. The menu at Orchestria Palm Court features all organic dairy products from grass-fed cattle and local, organic produce. There is an absence of any microwaves or deep fryers in the kitchen.
The restaurant’s chef, Tom Sheridan, who is a big proponent of farm-to-table, wholesome cooking, says he was excited to work with Williams, as they both share the same passion of good-for-you food. Their current menu features several different European-style prix fixe meals, which include tax and service in the price, which ranges from $30 to $50.
Prix fixe menu main dishes include an herb-roasted chicken with thyme-roasted carrots and marble potatoes, a paprika spiced pork chop with popcorn grits and corn and tomato salad, a vegetarian baked ratatouille and a rib-eye steak with balsamic onion jam, olive oil potatoes and sauteed spinach with tomatoes. The $30 menu offers a strawberry summer salad as a starter while the $40 and $50 prix fixe menus offer a choice of strawberry salad or smoked salmon tartine.
Chef Sheridan says he enjoys cooking to every guest’s health accommodations and the menu features a vegetarian special that can be modified to fit vegan and gluten-free diners. Fitting with their bid to support local products, the Orchestria Palm Court also features bread and desserts from bistro and bakery, La Lune Sucree and Sweetdragon Baking Company, as well as Chromatic coffee.
Orchestria Palm Court serves dinner Thursday through Sunday and is open for lunch on Sunday. 408.288.5606.