Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Peaches Hothouse: Raising the Heat in Bed Stuy

There are only a handful of restaurants in Bed Stuy quite like Peaches Hothouse on Tompkins Avenue. Sure, there's Saraghina and a few others pushing an artisanal ethos through an emerging (though underserved) neighborhood, but Peaches Hothouse, from the owners of The Smoke Joint and Peaches (proper), is surely the only place where you can find an approximation of Nashville fried chicken shack in the middle of Brooklyn.

Inside is cramped, and you may find yourself uncomfortably close to your neighbor (but this is OK-- strike up a conversation, or better yet, challenge the manhood of the guy on a date sitting next to you in a hot chicken-off). At peak times, Peaches can be packed full and understaffed (you've been warned). If you're less inclined to ruin someone else's meal, order a beer or a drink ("likker" as they call it) and wait for your fiery chicken to arrive while grooving to the blues blasting over the speakers.



Like I said, Nashville hot chicken is the star. Peaches' version appears to be much less greasy than its inspiration, (but it is served with pickles and bread). I've never tried the original (and regret not doing so since I've been to Nashville), but the hot chicken far surpassed my modest expectations (and usual heat tolerance). To obtain the requisite "extra hot," I recommend you order with a ruthless stare that alerts your server to the fact that you are a serious person who is not to be fucked with.

Deceptive.

The chicken arrives entombed in a dark crust heavily dusted in brown sugar and cayenne pepper. The first bite sets the tone, and steaming juices compound the wave of pure heat that envelops your lips, turning your face a flushed red (at least that's how Steve looked while chowing down on the drumstick). I kid, but I probably looked worse.


If ordering your chicken extra spicy, don't be a fool. Eat it with something creamy. Crispy grits-- fried cubes of grits served with a "spicy" aioli help somewhat-- especially since it's the supposedly spicy mayo that tames the chicken's heat. Even better is the creamed corn with bacon. It could use slightly more pepper, but that's a minor complaint.


Collard greens are also a standout. They have a strong, vegetal funk, with an undercurrent of sweetness. Add their housemade hot sauce for maximum effect, especially once "hot" becomes relative after the chicken.


I've had less success with the rest of the menu (shockingly, the burger is one of the only items I have yet to try). Shrimp po' boy is fine, but pales in comparison to the one at Cheeky (not their fault, the bar has been set high). The pulled pork sandwich is solid, but not nearly as good as my waiter led me to believe.


Brunch is also served on weekends. I've only tried two of their "scrambles," but beyond the quality ingredients, neither was more exciting than something I could make at home (yeah, that statement could describe brunch nearly everywhere in town).

Just go for the hot chicken and you'll leave happy (and drooling).

No Brooklyn bias here-- Peaches probably wouldn't set Manhattan on fire (besides the hot chicken), but in Bed Stuy it's the perfect neighborhood spot.

Peaches Hothouse
415 Tompkins Avenue (at Hancock)
Brooklyn, NY 
(718) 439-9111

Peaches HotHouse on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

  1. Cubic grits? Hot greens? That seals it -- I can't wait to check out the hot house.

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  2. James, I believe in you, but make sure you stress that you want the chicken really damn hot. I went with a friend the other night who simply said "hot chicken" and it ended up having no real heat at all...

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