In Silicon Valley, where anyone looking to be the next someone competes to create the future, it becomes the norm to keep an eye on the horizon.

Orchestria Palm Court, a small restaurant in downtown San Jose, dares to remain in the past, a time capsule of the bygone musical era of the early 20th century. The owner collects and restores pianos and other relics from the 1910s, decorating the restaurant as historically accurate as his collection allows.

Nine pianos are wired to play with the keys moving on their own, reverberating old tunes throughout a small brick-walled establishment that looks much like a converted garage. Although the high wood-beamed ceiling opens up the space, Orchestria is not a large restaurant and on this particular night, it was only manned by two front-of-house staff. Guests are greeted by the bartender at the front bar and led to their tables, where the menu gives directions to place orders with the bartender in the back bar.

While the only alcohol served at Orchestria is wine and beer, the restaurant entertains a variety of unique house-made fountain drinks. Rather than dispensing soda from a can or bottle, the bartender mixes a combination of syrups and flavors with carbonated water or phosphate to create a one-of-a-kind fountain drink. I was delighted by the subtle fruit notes in my Poppy Dew ($4), which is made with fresh lime, syrups, orange sherbet and a sprig of mint. It tastes sweeter as the sherbet melts.

The specials menu offered interesting seasonal items, of which the oven roasted bone marrow ($17 for two) sounded most enticing. Two large bone halves came with a salad of celery root shavings, parsley and shallot, served with toast and gray salt. The bones were searing hot, the marrow rich and buttery, the celery root salad crunchy and citrusy, and the gray salt was just the seasoning to tie it all together. This was a well-balanced dish and easily one of the better bone marrows I have had.

On the regular menu, the grass-fed rib eye steak ($24) seemed like the perfect classic dish to go with such a classic restaurant. The steak was an estimated 12-ounce portion served with a mushroom and Swiss cheese Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and Blue Lake beans. While the inside was a perfect medium rare, the steak was a bit too charred and under-seasoned on the outside, leading to the mashed potatoes stealing the spotlight. Yukon Gold potatoes and Swiss cheese were a smart choice for the traditional starchy side dish.

The pan-seared salmon ($24.80) served on quinoa pilaf, asparagus and orange tapenade butter, seemed to echo the steak entree’s shortcomings, with delicious side dishes that accompanied under-seasoned protein. The salmon was crispy and golden on the outside but unfortunately too dry on the inside. The orange tapenade butter also did little to help the bland flavor. The generous helping of quinoa pilaf showed a wonderful take on what is often thought as boring healthy.

Following the tone of the main menu, the dessert menu provided a few options of the simple classics like ice cream and banana splits—nothing groundbreaking, but somehow nostalgic and comforting. The banana split brulee ($4.80) is just a caramelized banana half with vanilla ice cream that can do no wrong for lovers of this favorite childhood treat. The profiterole ($4.80) of fresh cream puffs, with whole-wheat flour and organic cream filling, are light as air and not too sweet.

From the music playing on restored pianos to the soda dispensers used to make the fountain drinks, there is no shortage of visual entertainment. It is refreshing that a restaurant crafts a menu with fewer options and of traditional American fare like steak and potatoes, while its competitors are filling entire menu books with New American small bites, often with some other country’s influence. I appreciate the stance Orchestria is taking and the commitment to the vision of a 1910s musical era restaurant. Most important, I appreciate the well-made food and the fact that it only required two servers to manage both bars and service a dining room on a Saturday night.

Orchestria Palm court
27 E William St, San Jose