We are a purposely uncomplicated cookery offering smoked meat, seafood market, Greek, butcher shop, fund-raising, and craft beer.” This is the description of a newly established restaurant, The Simple Peasant. Though reading the description, simple is the last adjective that comes to mind. Before the restaurant made its debut I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of the menu. Much like the description, the menu is an odd combination of pasta, seafood, and steak. The front reveals Italian favorites like pizza, lasagna, spaghetti, and Stromboli’s, while the back reveals a Greek burger and smoked pork entrees. My husband and I shared a moment of excitement and curiosity only to be followed by downright confusion. Our full dining experience did, however, present some clarity.
Heading eastbound, just through the Skyland and McFarland intersection, The Simple Peasant can be found adjoined to a Texaco gas station. This space was last home to The Oyster Bar. After realizing the actual location of the restaurant we pulled a quick U-turn and entered into the side parking lot obviously designated for their customers. The outside was cute and yes, simple. A wood panel finish differentiates the space from its shared retailer. Inside, the narrow and long space is solely for dining. The front of house has a small bar next to the cashier. The small area did provide ample seating for two or a family of ten. The theme of the restaurant was indeed fitting. The atmosphere was lax and casual. We were greeted as soon as we walked in the door. The sweet employee asked our preference of a table or booth as she helped us to our seats. In addition to the somewhat haphazard menu, a second menu was presented showing the evening’s dinner specials.
Our waitress was very sweet and personable. Pepperoni and sausage pizza along with lasagna were the chosen entrees. While we waited for our food it was hard not to notice all of the odd décor, dull walls, and refurbished furniture. Let me take an aside. I have no issues with this, it is just not at all what I was expecting based off of the feedback I had received. The food was prompt and at first glance very impressive. Portions were too generous and the aroma literally fooled us into believing we were in a full-service Italian eatery. The pizza was thin crusted with pepperoni slices and large pieces of Italian sausage. It was basic, simple ingredients that yielded savory bite. The lasagna was something special though. Normally, I purposefully ignore this dish because I tend to get a plate of layered pasta on top of pasta. This dish was different. The pasta sheets provided structure for the ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, and ground meat-to name a few. Underneath the pile of shredded mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese was a block of lasagna that could feed a family of four. Each ingredient popped with each bite (yes this was my husband’s meal). The food was absolutely delicious, but it was our conversation with co-owner Blake Miles, which sold me completely on The Simple Peasant.
After we finished our meal I requested to speak with the owner or manager. Mr. Miles came directly over to our table, introduced himself with a handshake and pulled up a chair. Sitting casually and completely relaxed, Miles approached the conversation as if we were all old friends. I openly admitted that the menu was a tad odd and misleading. In response, Miles explained that he and his partner developed the menu with strategy in mind. “I’m breaking all of the rules I teach about menu development,” he said with a sly grin on his face. Miles is also a culinary instructor at Shelton State Community College. “The menu is always changing,” he continued. Before finalizing a menu Miles and partner want to know the thoughts and opinions of their customers. The intense passion for this restaurants’ success beamed from Miles. To add to the “simplicity” of the business, a fresh market is open to all customers. Inside a small butcher display case is freshly cut fish, steak, sausage, seafood, and even their own cured meats. The seafood menu is impressive offering local live and cooked crawfish, crawfish tail meat, shrimp, crab meat, and more. Each can be ordered by the pound and prepared to the customers liking. Miles even went on to say that if someone didn’t know how to prepare something he’d be more than happy to assist. The food alone would have of brought us back but more so, the community. I have a feeling this will be a place “where everybody knows your name.”
Visit The Simple Peasant at 5400 McFarland Blvd E Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Hours vary. Visit their Facebook page or call for inquiries.

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