BELMONT – Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict. Fried Green Tomatoes. Homemade Pecan Pie.
When it comes to Southern style comfort food, nothing could be finer, than the Sweet Peach Diner. Located along busy Trapelo Road in Belmont, the Sweet Peach is a cozy breakfast and lunch spot filled with hungry locals, friendly servers, and a whole lot of Southern hospitality, courtesy of owner Ellen Carter.
Ellen was born and raised in North Carolina, in a family where home cooked meals were the norm. She wanted to recreate that same wholesome, family feeling at the Sweet Peach.
“I grew up in a family where, at the end of the day I came home and my mother cooked a homemade meal for my whole family. And so when I thought about opening a restaurant, all those memories of being at my family dinner table were what I wanted to simulate.”
So she filled the dining room with warm woods, painted the walls Carolina Blue, and filled the menu with many of the same family recipes she grew up eating.
“This is the food that I know. This is what I understand. This is what I grew up with. This is my real home cooking.”
Comfort food is all over the menu at the Sweet Peach, like a Grilled Cheese Sandwich, oozing with melty homemade Pimento Cheese; crispy and golden Buttermilk Fried Chicken; Sweet Potato Casserole topped with mini-marshmallows; and Granny’s Mac and Cheese, made from a closely guarded family recipe.
“It’s very creamy. It’s not baked. We do make the cheese sauce here, but I can’t tell you all my secrets, so I’ll have to keep that one for me.”
When it comes to true Southern favorites, there’s nothing like Fried Green Tomatoes, and Ellen is quick to clear up a common misconception about this dish.
“Well a green tomato is NOT an unripe tomato. It’s actually a different fruit. So we buy fresh, organic, green tomatoes, slice them up, they get breaded and put in the fryer and then come out to you nice, hot and fresh.”
For a classic Southern snack, the Boiled Peanuts are a strangely addictive treat. They’re moist and tender, a far cry from what you’d get at a ballgame.
“They’re soft so they don’t have the crunch like you would find at Fenway. We’d have a huge bowl of them in my house, and all summer long you’re coming in and out of the kitchen, grabbing a handful of peanuts, and if you can break yourself away from the bowl once you’ve eaten one, you try to but generally, you end up with my whole family gathered around a bowl of peanuts trying to make sure you get to the last one.”
Many of the recipes at Sweet Peach come from Ellen’s mom, Susan, including one of Mom’s personal favorites: Tomato Pie.
“It’s just something I started making 10 or 15 years ago, and it’s so unusual. It’s a cream cheese crust, sliced tomatoes, lots of cheddar cheese, and a topping that’s very rich and creamy – sour cream, mayonnaise, parmesan, and then you bake it. And then you eat it at room temperature, hot, cold, however you want it.”
The Sweet Peach is a diner, not a barbecue joint, but that doesn’t stop them from making one heck of a Pulled Pork sandwich, featuring meat that’s slow roasted for sixteen hours, and then mixed with a traditional North Carolina Style vinegar sauce.
“You get this huge pulled pork sandwich, and you take a bite and you just got juices and sauce, and all this great stuff just coming out of it, so it’s kind of a mess to eat. Get lots of napkins, but it’s totally worth it. It’s delicious.”
That same great pulled pork makes an appearance on the breakfast menu too, in a uniquely delicious Pulled Pork Benedict – with a sinfully stacked buttermilk biscuit topped with poached eggs and pulled pork, and finished with hollandaise and barbecue sauce. This is one dish that definitely gets customers’ attention.
“Their reaction is just, ‘Wow!’ You know, like what is this? It’s something nobody’s ever seen before. I think people are pretty impressed, and then I think once they take their first bite is when they get really impressed.”
Other breakfast standouts include a Corned Beef Hash Omelet with melted Monterey jack, French Toast stuffed with peaches and cream, and the ultimate hangover helper, Chicken and Waffles.
“It’s a big Belgian waffle, soft, fluffy, with these crunchy chicken wings on top. The salty and the sweet go great together. Just pour a ton of maple syrup on top, and some powdered sugar, and it’s definitely a can’t miss.”
For something a little healthier, there’s one more family recipe you might want to try, and this one comes courtesy of Ellen’s dad: the Fresh Cantaloupe Bowl.
“When my mother was out of town, my dad was under strict instruction to make sure we had healthy breakfasts to start our day. So he would take a whole cantaloupe, cut it in half, scoop out the inside, and then fill it with cottage cheese, and then put fresh red grapes all over it. It’s a perfect healthy morning dish.”
If you opt for the healthy breakfast, then it’s okay to treat yourself with a homemade dessert, like personal sized Pecan Pie, Mom’s Peach Cobbler, or Grandma Lucile’s Coconut Cake.
No matter what you order, Ellen always makes sure that every meal at The Sweet Peach Diner is served with a heaping helping of old fashioned Southern hospitality.
“When people walk in the door here, I want to know their names. I want to know who my regulars are. I want to make sure that every table gets good attention and that they know that they’re welcome here, and I hope it feels like home for people.”
The Sweet Peach Diner is at 628 Trapelo Road in Belmont, or online at thesweetpeachdiner.com.
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