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Peaden’s Grill and Cafeteria offers tried-and-true comfort food

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Barbecue baked chicken, collard greens and rutabagas with a sweet potato biscuit and a corn fritter.

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Christina Ruotolo

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

More than 60 years ago, a mom and pop opened a small country store selling gas, snacks and cold drinks. Over time, the family expanded, adding classic country food and more items, and as Greenville steadily grew, so did Peaden’s Grill & Cafeteria. In the past 61 years, Peaden’s has become an institution, a popular watering hole, a place locals and visitors flock to for great Southern food and plenty of conversation.

Terry Peaden started working at the restaurant when he was a teenager, helping his parents, and when they retired, he and his sister Mable took over as owners. The meals and entrees are all tried-and-true comfort foods that remind us of the homemade meals our grandparents and parents used to make for Sunday supper. Peaden’s offers an array of mouth-watering vegetables, sides and meats, as well as an impressive breakfast menu with cheese biscuits that deserve a place in biscuit hall of fame.

Walk in as early as 5 a.m. to fill up on crispy bacon, sausage links, eggs made to order, pancakes, biscuits, sweet potato biscuits and a slew of other breakfast favorites. Even though the gas station is long gone, you are still fueled by the foods that will fill your tank and set you up for a great day.

If you are not a morning person, then show up around 11 a.m. and feast your eyes and inhale the aromas of a true Southern buffet. Enjoy favorites like baked chicken, meatloaf, country-style steak, macaroni and cheese, squash, butter beans, green beans, collards or the mouthwatering, grandma-approved chicken and pastry. The meats change daily, so just check the menu and pick your favorite day.

For my food tasting, I started with a traditional buffet plate with a few favorites: barbecue baked chicken, collard greens and rutabagas paired with both a sweet potato biscuit and a corn fritter. The baked chicken has a flavorful homemade sauce that is both sweet and tangy with just a touch of spice. It’s glossy and slightly sticky and melts into the tender meat. Pair that with a mound of North Carolina heaven — collard greens — seasoned with ham hock and spices and cooked until tender. It’s soul food at its finest.

Now, let’s talk rutabaga. Some of you may have never heard of a rutabaga, let alone actually eaten one. Let me introduce you to my new best friend. If a cabbage and turnip had a baby, it would be a rutabaga. That’s the easiest way to describe this root vegetable that we don’t honor enough. It has tender, peachy flesh with the consistency of a chunky applesauce. It’s sweet and has mellow flavors of cabbage. Try it, and I promise you will fall in love with this underrated star.

I ended this first meal with a crispy corn fritter that is an old-school version of a hushpuppy. Back in the day, a cornmeal-style mix was put in a griddle and fried up to a sweet, crispy, crunchy cake. The texture is similar to a corndog breading, but tastes sweeter and has a state-fair, nostalgic flavor. The sweet potato biscuit is next with its filling, homespun flavor of warm, sweet cinnamon and spice.

Next, I tried the fried pork chop paired with macaroni and cheese, green beans and a biscuit. It’s no secret that many Southern favorites may not be the healthiest foods on the menu, but that is why we like them so much. For many soul-food favorites, butter and oil are the secret weapons that make these dishes an instant success. This is why the crispy battered pork chop is so good with its sizzling appeal, tender middle and savory, seasoned crust.

The macaroni and cheese speaks for itself. Cheese is the symbol of love in the South, and this one had sharp cheddar melting and swirling into tender elbow pasta. Just one bite and you’re hooked for life. Now for the green beans. What makes them sing? Ham hocks. Simmer low and slow and let the fat render out and melt into the tender beans, and you have a love story that the South can tell better than anyone else.

Pair this feast with a biscuit that was awarded one of the best biscuits in Pitt County. The biscuit dough is soft and fluffy, just waiting for some creamy butter, honey or your favorite jelly, pimento cheese or chicken salad, or add your favorite meat and make a breakfast sandwich.

Peaden’s is known for its homemade banana pudding. Start with milk, sugar, bananas and vanilla wafers, add a few secret ingredients and cook until you get a dreamy, decadent pudding. If you don’t try anything else, you have to eat the banana pudding.

Peaden’s is at 2399 N. Memorial Drive. Hours are from 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 5 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. The restaurant is closed on Sundays. Catering is available. Call 752-5747 or visit www.peadens.net.

Angus Grill

Angus Grill has opened a second location at 201 Jarvis St.

Owner Jeff Quann said he believes now is the perfect time to grow his business.

“There is a level of excitement with everything going on Uptown, and we believe we can offer an awesome restaurant to add to all the other great things going on,” Quann said in a prepared statement.

Angus Grill is a family-friendly environment serving sandwiches, salads and burgers.

The original location is at 4054 S. Memorial Drive, Winterville.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/​AngusGrillJarvis or follow Angus Grill on Instagram @angusgrill252. Hot Dish will have more information in a later column.

Bone Appetit

The Humane Society of Eastern Carolina will host a Bone Appetit fundraising event from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sept. 7-8 at Famiglia, 740 W. Fire Tower Road, Winterville. A percentage of all food and drink sales will be donated to HSEC. Write “for HSEC” on the receipt and alert the server.

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Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

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