Editors' pick

Peachez Cafe and Lounge

$$$$ ($25-$34)

Editorial Review

The new Peachez Cafe and Lounge adds a touch of class to southern Prince George's County's mostly barren culinary landscape.

Peachez opened in October in the space on Brown Station Road in Upper Marlboro that once housed the short-lived Flossie's. It is a radical departure from that restaurant's no-alcohol approach. Peachez has a large dining room and two smaller private dining spaces, but the lounge area is attracting the most attention so far.

When we arrived for dinner on a recent Thursday night, the dining room was about half filled, but there were no empty seats in the lounge area, where patrons were standing two deep at the horseshoe-shaped bar. Flat-screen televisions were tuned to basketball games, with the sound off. The well-dressed crowd spent more time talking than cheering on the players above their heads.

Make no mistake, Peachez is an upscale establishment. The kitchen serves lunch, dinner and bar snacks until midnight during the week and until 1 a.m. on weekends. There is jazz two nights a week and a champagne buffet brunch on Sundays. The scene is more like downtown Washington than anything else in Prince George's.

The interior of Peachez contrasts its shopping center location. The lounge, just past the small vestibule, has plush semi-circular booths on the left and a handsome dark wood bar on the right. The main dining room is to the right of the vestibule. A deep red upholstered banquette extends the length of one wall. Dark-toned tables are surrounded by comfortable upholstered chairs. The earth-toned decor complements prints and statues of jazz musicians.

The menu is limited. Appetizers are mostly bar snacks. Dining choices include a couple of salads and four entrees: pasta, salmon, chicken and beef. Lunch selections include the same bar snacks, a hamburger, a couple of salads and a few sandwiches. Events manager Candie Gardner said chef Randall McNeely plans to add selections in coming weeks.

The food is flavorful and attractively presented. Appetizers include two skewers of coconut-crusted shrimp served on a mound of fresh salad greens. A ramekin filled with creamy spinach and crab dip is surrounded by warm flour tortilla chips. The corn and crab chowder has taste, even if the texture is somewhat gluey. Mini-burgers, which can be ordered in groups of three, six or nine, and chicken wings fill out the starters.

Hamburgers at lunch are huge; they are garnished with thick potato gaufrettes (cross-hatched slices), and each order comes with a small bottle of ketchup. Salads are large and delivered with a choice of dressing on the side. Mine was missing its cheese-topped croutons; most of the taste came from the heart of palm slices.

Among the entrees, filet mignon with lobster tail was cooked well and the meat was especially tender. Salmon filet, crusted with Japanese-style breadcrumbs, was tender, juicy and flavorful.

The basic dessert menu offers peach cobbler presented in a martini glass, chocolate bread pudding, ice cream and sorbet. There are also special cakes almost every day.

The kitchen was out of bread pudding when I ordered it, but the peach cobbler was luscious, with large slices of fruit, slow-cooked and tender, topped with puff pastry and whipped cream.

Another day at lunch, the chocolate layer cake was the most alluring, a perfect combination of chocolate layers and icing, drizzled with more chocolate and served with whipped cream. The serving was large enough for three. At an adjacent table, one slice was enough for the five women celebrating the birthday of one of them.

This is the first restaurant venture for owners Willie and Adrianne "Peachez" Goode, who also own trash-hauling companies. Adrianne Goode oversees the restaurant, stopping to ask diners if they are enjoying themselves.

Service is welcoming though sometimes slow, especially for workers trying to dine on a brief lunch break. But each day there is an "express selection" designed to send them on their way quickly.

--Nancy Lewis (Jan. 24, 2008)