Restaurateur Rene Peeters first opened Watel’s in Uptown in 1986, way before Uptown was cool. But in 2009, the rent became too high and Peeters moved to Lower Greenville, where his new concept, Watel’s World Piece Cafe, seems just as right for the time and place as Watel’s did 23 years ago. World Piece has tons of quirky charm. Vintage Oriental rugs warm up the cement floor. Seating is nonlinear, with an assortment of high and low tables that create cozy nooks. The food comes on colorful French country pottery and Japanese ceramics. With the new space comes a new menu, incorporating flavors from Morocco, Africa, Switzerland, and more. That includes tagine, the Moroccan dish with chunks of soft chicken breast and rice. Dried apricots and the occasional olive added welcome complexity. Cuban pork roast also combined meat with fruit: this time slices of juicy orange that enhanced the fall-apart tenderness of the meat. Kobe meatballs were a fun small plate to share. Extremely rare in the center, they were served with spicy harissa aioli. Seared tuna with ratatouille was served quite cold, perhaps to keep the near-raw tuna in good shape. Desserts included dense, creamy crème brûlée with a novel Thai iced tea flavor, and a firm, rich Belgian chocolate truffle tart. Nurturing service helped set the warm tone. So did the insanely cheap prices on wine. A Catena Malbec from Argentina was $29, just a few dollars more than what you’d spend at the grocery store, assuming you could even find it. No wonder every table in the house shared a bottle.
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