Prospect Heighters might have noticed that is now called Velvet Peach Cafe.
The beloved Flatbush Avenue spot still has the same owner and servers and still offers coffee and WiFi access. But owner Tony Atterbury has hired an executive chef, Robert McGregor, and significantly expanded the eatery’s menu and atmosphere, turning it from Internet café to bona fide restaurant with an eclectic international menu.
“It’s about growth, taking something that is a coffee café concept and turning it into a restaurant café concept,” said Shelley Everett, a restaurant consultant who helped Attebury design and implement the changes, which débuted Sunday.
Atterbury came up with the name Velvet Peach when he first launched the café in 2005.
“Peaches are associated with the South and the Southern states are associated with comfort,” Everett said. But Attebury ended up going with Heights Coffee, because he thought the former sounded too much like a restaurant.
The new menu includes open-faced sandwiches with such toppings as egg and shrimp salad, roasted eggplant tapenade and smoked salmon; homemade ice creams and sorbets and Velvet Peach's new signature offering: chubby biscuits.
“It’s a meal in a biscuit,” said Everett, who said she first debuted the saucer-sized southern treat at Grand Central’s Shoebox Café 10 years ago.
The mega-biscuits come in such flavors as cheddar bacon, salami gorgonzola and cinnamon raison, and, at cost a meal-sized price of $5 to $7.
On July 9, the café will begin serving weekend brunch, with a prix fixe price of $16.95 and a menu that includes sweet potato hash with chicken andouille sausage, dried cherries, Maltese sauce and poached eggs, spicy bison sliders and ratatouille crepes with herb goat cheese and house salad.
Two days later, the restaurant will debut its “small plates” dinner menu which will include such choices as shrimp ceviche in tomato onion compote and island trifle salad: tropical fruit salsa with avocado and black bean salads, topped with wasabi caviar.
The café also now has a charcuterie counter where customers can try such offereings as duck liver pate, prosciutto salami and Camembert as a meal, or buy it by weight to take home.
Why the change?
“It’s something he (Atterbury) talked about for awhile,” Everett said. “He was a little afraid to do it and finally he decided to take the leap.”
But never fear, laptop users are still welcome in the shop (especially during off hours) and WiFi is still available, said Shakera Chen, a server, who said the restaurant still wants to keep serving its existing customer base.
They just hope the laptop crowd will buy a cheddar chubby biscuit or egg and shrimp salad sandwich along with that coffee.
Velvet Peach Café, 335 Flatbush Avenue between Prospect and Park places, is currently open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Beginning July 11, when the dinner menu begins, it will be open until at least 11 p.m.