Good soul food restaurants are a rarity in New York City, but now there is a new and welcomed addition to this select list — The Peach Tree (557 W. 125 St. bet. Amsterdam and Old Broadway).
Owned by Floyd and Mildred Johnson, this no-frills, straight forward restaurant is barely a year old. But the food is so good that at one point I thought we’d have to be rolled out of the place. It is not the kind of restaurant you prepare to visit. There’s no need to dress up or make reservations. Where you’re going or where you’ve been is unimportant — you come as you are; your interest is the Southern-style home cooking.
Owner Floyd, who has gained 20 Pounds, since opening last August, previously owned a cab business. He saw The Peach Tree as a good investment because of the shortage of good Black restaurants. “It’s not a matter of pushing out food” he says, “this is a whole cultural thing.” He chose the name Peach Tree because of its connotations to southern cuisine and congeniality.
The restaurant is small with a warm, friendly atmosphere — almost like visiting a friend. Conversation is easy and casual, and you find yourself chatting with strangers. The brown and beige walls are covered with art work made of wrought iron, cork, rocks, wood, highlighted by creative lighting. Framed theatre memorabilia decorate another wall. The lighting is intimate over small tables and in the back of the restaurant sits a philodendron — covered piano waiting to be fingered.
The best thing about The Peach Tree is its combination of quality food and low prices. A good restaurant is good no matter what it charges, but here you can pamper your palate and your wallet. Consider: Hot open sandwiches of roast beef, roast turkey, brisket or corned beef, all served with homemade gravy or barbecue sauce, potato salad and Cole Slaw for $2.35; or the “Deli-Soul” sandwiches of barbecue ribs, pork chops, fried whitings or porgies for just $1.55 to$1.95.
There are four daily luncheon specials: sautéed chicken livers with rice and vegetable ($2.50), fried fish, potato or rice and vegetable ($2.50), braised oxtails, potato or rice and vegetable ($2.50), short ribs of beef, potato or rice and vegetable ($2.75). Burgers ($.95-1.45) and salads ($2.25-2.95) also are served during lunch, as well as a vegetable plate ($2.25) consisting of any three vegetables. Homemade soups ($.50-.75), such as split pea, vegetable beef, chicken noodle or lentil, also are served.
Dinner entrees range from $3.50 (Fried Porgies) to $6.95 (Shell Steak). Then there’s baked Virginia Ham ($4.35); Barbecue Spare Ribs ($4.75), Baked Snapper ($3.95) and Jumbo Fried Shrimp ($5.95).
All are served with hot bread, butter, tossed salad and two vegetables.
And the vegetables, are all fresh. They include string beans, cabbage, collard greens, black-eyed peas, buttered corn, potato salad, candied yams, baked macaroni and cheese.
We sampled several dishes and cleaned (and I mean cleaned) our plates each time. Between swallows, one pleased diner whispered, “Um this is like eating at home; like mama’s house.” He was right. The pot roast was so tender and juicy that between it and the barbecue ribs (finger lickin’ good), I found it difficult to concentrate on much else. Fish lovers will be pleased here, for the shrimp are jumbo and the porgies we sampled were both fresh and fluffy. From the black-eyed peas to the macaroni and cheese, the vegetables were delicious.
Desserts include rice and bread puddings, chocolate and plain layer cakes, apple pie, sweet potato pie and homemade peach cobbler. Needless to say, the sweet potato pie and peach cobbler scored big.
Alcoholic beverages are not served at The Peach Tree, but with all this good eating, who needs them?
By the way, The Peach Tree offers something that few other restaurants do: home delivery-free — That’s right. Surprised us too! You can order anything from the menu and have it brought to your doorstep within minutes. Their motto is, “We’ll treat you with down-home Southern goodness.” Indeed they
No Credit Cards Accepted Tel. 864-9310 Open: Mon. – Thurs. 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. • Fri. 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m. • Sat. 4 p.m. – 1 a.m. • Closed Sundays • Dinner served from 3 p.m. until closing.