Apps Only: Peaches HotHouse, Fried Chicken and Southern Redux in Bed-Stuy
Peaches Hothouse, an offshoot of nearby Peaches, bills itself as a "country cafe," and while I'm not sure what that means, their menu of reasonably priced Southern classics intrigued me. The fried chicken is popular—indeed it seems to be what everyone in the place was ordering on the night I visited—but several of their smaller plates also seem promising. I stopped by the Bed-Stuy restaurant last week to see if I could put together a reasonably priced meal there of appetizers and small plates, because, well, that's what I do.
The menu here is very wallet friendly; the steepest figure on the menu is $15. If you're undecided between the smaller $3-$5 selections on the "Smoked and Cured" section of the menu, you can go whole hog with the Charcuterie Board ($11), a plate of country ham, andouille, and Tenessee "brown jam," along with crackers, pickles, and mustard.
Nothing here was bad, but in the future I'd pick and choose among the items. The brown jam was the only one that really stood out, a rich, spreadable concoction of pulled pork cooked down with bacon grease. Like a smoky take on rillettes, it was the star of the board, and I'd recommend just getting a plate of that to share ($5 on its own).
BBQ Shrimp with Crispy Grits ($8, photo up top) looks like a mess, and though it is indeed messy, a mess it is not. If you're expecting grilled shrimp, you'll be stymied; the shrimp here are buried beneath a pool of barbecue sauce with meltingly soft shreds of peppers and onion. The six shrimp, spread across two skewers, are tender and sweet, but that barbecue sauce is the focal point here: dark and buttery and sweet, a little like ketchup, but tangy enough to keep things interesting. Cubes of fried grits could be crispier, but they are soft and cheesy inside, a fine vehicle for more of that sauce.
Unfortunately, the Fried Green Tomatoes ($8) were, in fact, a total mess. Mealy tomatoes were coated with a batter that was soggy by the time it hit our table, a fact not helped by the arugula salad heaped on top that was so overdressed the dressing pooled on the plate. Used sparingly, bacon would be an unnecessary addition to this food pile, but applied in whole strips as it was here, it was an affront.
Since Peaches Hothouse is best known for its fried chicken dinner, we also tried the Chicken Sandwich ($9), which comes served with french fries and pickles. It's key that this sandwich eschews the usual flavorless chicken breast for a boneless thigh, ensuring that the meat is juicy and flavorful. It also helps that chicken is coated in a flavorful, well seasoned batter that has just a bit of heat and manages to stay crunchy until the sandwich was gone. The fries weren't anything to write home about, but they were crispy with a soft interior, far from a disappointment.
All in all, the two of us spent $36 on food before tax and tip, not bad for the amount of food we ate (which could have easily fed a party of three). It'd be easy to sidle up to the bar with a buddy, split some brown jam and a sandwich, plus a $3-$4 side or an appetizer and have a really solid dinner for under twenty bucks. There are some missteps on the menu, and though everyone working at the restaurant was more than friendly, minor service hiccups dotted our experience. Still, I'd recommend Peaches Hothouse, especially if you find yourself in the neighborhood.
About the author: Ben Fishner is Serious Eats' advertising operations administrator, and he is currently planning his next meal. In addition to writing for Serious Eats, he blogs at Ben Cooks Everything. Follow him on Twitter or Tumblr, won't you?