First Bite: Fat Maddie's Barrelhouse and Bistro Open in Pleasant Hill
Farmhouse charm in downtown.
Without sacrificing its farmhouse charm, this second Fat Maddie’s—a standout family restaurant among downtown Pleasant Hill’s sea of chains—is all grown up. With a full bar, natural and art deco lighting, a spacious patio, and modern bistro accents, it’s a cut above the San Ramon original.
Classic salads and sandwiches may be a buck or two more here but the menu also showcases down-home entrees—many with a Southern flair and all reasonably priced. Maddie’s fried chicken, whether tucked in bread with aged cheddar, or served alongside whipped potatoes, is both moist and crunchy. A generous bistro filet, offered au poivre or sliced, and served over house-mixed lettuces with blue cheese, is supple and sublime. Our seared salmon with a fine mango salsa, and sautéed shrimp over lightly cheesy grits could have had more zing, but all our dishes—sampled during opening week—proved satisfying. Check out the strawberry lemonade, craft beers, and semi-private booth for eight.
45 Crescent Dr., Pleasant Hill, (925) 355-1975, fatmaddiesgrille.com. Lunch and dinner daily.