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Posted February 19, 2014 by David Tang in American
 
 

Miss Peaches, Newtown


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Reputation is a bitch – once you have one, it generally stays with you for life. I have this friend who had a reputation in high school of being kind of dopey and as hard as he tries, over 10 years later to this day the group still calls him dopey (even though he’s actually a really smart guy). Yes I went to Miss Peaches and in full disclosure I was invited as a guest, but before we get into it I think we need to address the elephant in the room (or webpage?) –  Miss Peaches currently has a horrendous reputation out there on the interwebz… and they know it. I’ve read and heard many a tale about tasteless, boring, uninspired dishes that have had the “soul” surgically removed from the soul food theme that this restaurant is all about. As soon as I posted on my Instagram that I was at Miss Peaches I was questioned by a friend why I was there and warned that the food wasn’t good. But much like my friend I told you about earlier, Miss Peaches is going all out to turn their reputation around and show that the food they serve can be as funky and as fresh as their fit out (and this place looks seriously cool).

miss peaches, newtown

miss peaches, newtown, art, street art

miss peaches, newtown, art, street art

chef, cooking

The main driving force behind this change is the new chef Hamish Francis-Martin. If you are like my mum who knows the movements of all the yum-cha chefs in Cabramatta, you’d know that Hamish used to spend a lot of his time in the high profile kitchens of Bloodwood, Bodega and Porteno; you could say he’s qualified and knows what he’s doing.

I noticed that the new menu looked pretty similar to the old one (which on paper doesn’t look bad at all) but what he’s done here is take the old menu, fixed it up and just made everything that much better. All you need to do is look at my photos and compare them to photos of the food before Hamish started here and you can see some of the changes he’s made.

cocktails, root beer, watermelon
The molasses ice cream was a great touch though I would have preferred it with sarsaparilla than ginger beer

We start the night off with some cocktails. My favourite ice cream flavour in the world is rum & raisin, so I had to get the rum & raisin root beer float ($17) while Sarah got the watermelon ruby fizz ($16). Both drinks were great and I especially liked mine with the molasses ice cream float.  The food then starts flying out at a rapid pace.

okra, vegetables, soul food
If you’re a fan of okra then you’ll love this – if you aren’t familiar then you should still order this and give it a go

Whilst the drinks were good, I was still praying to all the food gods that it wasn’t going to be as bad as I’ve previously heard, but when the fried okra ($7) came out I breathed a sigh of relief as there was no sign of a gluggy heavy batter – just the okra speaking for itself with the aid of some garlic, parsley and tossed in cherry vinegar. A very clean and delicious starter; things were looking good for the rest of the night.

sliders, burger, beef, beef short rib,
You may notice that the old corn bread buns are gone – which is actually a good thing because now you can take a bite without the whole thing disintegrating like someone shot it with a bazooka

I don’t usually order sliders because I’m a hamburger purist and we believe little hamburgers were created in the pits of hell are the devils food (usually because the short order cooks will 9/10 overcook the patty into something resembling a fossilised hockey puck). However the selection of sliders (4 for $20) from the menu got the best of me and I went for the fried chicken, beef short rib, pulled pork and fried green tomato. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say my favourite was the fried green tomato followed very closely by the beef short rib. The combination of the seasoned coating that hugged the juicy, sweet wedge of tomato really stood out to me. This doesn’t take away from the short rib which had a nice crust that broke apart as you bit into it. They were both full of flavour much like the pulled pork and I’d recommend them for someone that’s not looking for a full on meal but wants to get a few different tastes going.

chicken, fried chicken, miss peaches
Nice to see new types of fried chicken out there

Trying to show some restraint I only ordered 1 piece of the sarsaparilla glazed fried chicken ($4 each) which ended up being a huge mistake….on my part that is, because this chicken was good and I should have ordered some more. They’ve taken the southern sarsaparilla flavour and made a sweet sticky glaze for the chicken in a similar fashion to Korean fried chicken. Overall very enjoyable and I love that more people are doing different things with fried chicken so we don’t end up eating the same thing over and over again.

gumbo, scallops, seafood, miss peaches, tomato, soup
Best gumbo this side of the Mississippi- I mean Newtown

Gumbo is one of those dishes which are shrouded in mystery. In essence it’s a thick stew-like dish seasoned with bold flavours combined with meat or seafood and served over rice. Hailing from Louisiana, historians still debate the origins of gumbo; whether it came from the native Indians of the area, if it was a derivative of a French bouillabaisse, a dish brought over with the slaves from West Africa, a Spanish concoction from when they took over the colony in 1762 and even the Germans get a mention when talking about the origins of gumbo. All I know is that the scallop gumbo ($15) was delectable and the mix of stewed okra, celery, onion, tomatoes and chilli has a great sense of balance offering a tartly and spicy slap in your face. The two perfectly cooked scallops were as good as scallops could be; fresh and juicy with a nice bite to them.  

fish, blackened fish, cucumber, dill, red pepper

fish, blackened fish, cucumber, dill, red pepper
I’m of the school of thought that there are only 2 types of fish: really good fish or really bad fish . This fish is of the “really good” species

Blackening is one of my favourite ways to cook fish at home however not many restaurants seem to do it so I was quite keen when I saw the blackened fish ($15) on the menu. There are those out there that tout ‘you get cancer from eating charred food’ – go home and eat some steamed carrots buddy. The signature brown/black crust results from dipping the fish in melted butter, coating it in spices and then frying it in even more butter in a super hot skillet until spices char every so slightly. The result at Miss Peaches is a very tasty piece of barramundi with a wafting aroma of dill as it was delivered to our table. Let’s not forget about the lightly pickled cucumber and red pepper salad which was a perfect partner to the fish.  I’ll be the first to admit I don’t normally go crazy over fish in restaurants but I cleaned that plate of fish up like I was a ravenous seal (the sea animal kind that eats fish, not the kind that eats people’s hopes and dreams on a reality singing show)

pie, pecan, banana, caramel
Can anyone really say no to pie?

About this time my stomach was getting close to its limit but my mind flashed back to when I walked in and saw several large trays of pies cooling on the counter and miraculously I had some room for dessert. I opted for the pecan, caramel & banana pie ($8) – they also had an apple pie which I’m keen to try as well. It would have been a mistake to offer something light and dainty as a dessert to end a meal like I’d had. A dessert with a lot of character was needed (which this had). With the strong presence of caramel coming through I particularly enjoyed the mix of textures between the crunchy pecans, soft bananas and sticky caramel layers. If this had an extra layer of bananas then I would have been even happier – but I just really love bananas in desserts.

pies, apple pie

The Greek philosopher Socrates said “The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear”. Yeah sure Miss Peaches has coped a flogging since opening its doors but I applaud the efforts that management has taken to change their reputation.  They’ve found a passionate young chef to lead the charge and with their great bar and fit-out, it shouldn’t be too long until Miss Peaches is only spoken about in a good way. Reputation is a bitch, but with enough effort, reputation can change.

Miss Peaches
201 Missenden Road, Newtown NSW
Phone: (02) 9557 7280
Web: misspeaches.com.au
Miss Peaches Soul Food Kitchen on Urbanspoon

I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of Miss Peaches with thanks to Cardinal Spin


David Tang

 
David has been working professionally in the Food & Beverage industry for the past 4 years. As head of marketing & development in a food & travel company, David's work, home and dining lives are constantly overlapping. Obsessed with coffee & burgers, David can be found downing a piccolo (or gin & tonic) while he’s out and about eating his way through Sydney. Otherwise David will be in a kitchen recreating & experimenting with both celebrated and contemporary dishes. His culinary influences include his mum (trained in classical French cooking in a pre-war Vietnam), David Chang & Anthony Bourdain.