Classic comedy sketch from Dudley Moore and Peter Cook, which describes a disastrous restaurant by the name of "The Frog and Peach."
One reason given in the sketch for the restaurant's failure, is that there are few items on the menu
, as the owner, Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling (Cook), explains:
There's frog a la peche, which is a frog done in Cointreau and with a peach stuffed in its mouth. And, ah, then, of course, there's peche a la frog, which is really not much to write home about. A waiter comes to your table. He's got this huge peach on it, which is covered in boiling liqueur, you see, and he slices it open to reveal about two thousand little black tadpoles squiggling about. It's one of the most disgusting sights I've ever seen. God, it turns me over to think of it.
The hilarious sketch first appeared on Not Only... But Also
in 1966, and the LP Once More with Cook
(Decca LP LK 4785 1966
). It re-surfaced again in their live revue in the 1970s, Good Evening
, and on video in 1989's The Secret Policeman's Biggest Ball.
You can find transcripts of the entire sketch on the Web, but if you can manage it, find a recording of Good Evening
((US) Island LP ILPS 9298). Cook and Moore often improvised, so this version is slightly different from the 1966 quote above, but Peter Cook's delivery is nonetheless astounding. .mp3 file available for download (search for "Frog and Peach" on page: http://stabbers.truth.posiweb.net/stabbers/html/discography.htm
Despite the sketch's vision of a horrible dining experience, and perhaps because restauranteurs find the sketch terribly amusing, many actual restaurants have adopted the name for their own business efforts. Sadly, for those odd ducks curious to try a bite of frog a la peche or peche a la frog, none of these establishments featured Streeb-Greebling's signature dish.
Jim Black and Betsy Alger opened their restaurant,"The Frog and the Peach," in a historic 1876 industrial building in New Brunswick, New Jersey. They chose the name because it made people smile, and people remembered the name (whether they knew the sketch or not). Their restaurant opened in 1983, and has been garnering good reviews ever since. It is still serving Modern American cuisine (rooted in French influences). The menu features dishes such as black truffle ricotta gnocchi with an almond basil pesto, buckwheat crepes filled with goat cheese/pancetta/yellow squash, tea cured duck breast, and a fennel dusted organic veal chop with a truffle sauce. But wouldn't you know it, no frog on the menu-- or even peaches! Executive chef Bruce Lefebvre is committed to using only seasonal ingredients, so perhaps I visited their web site at the wrong time of year. Lefebvre bought the restaurant from Alger and Black in April 2012, keeping the name intact.
The 1980s also saw a Frog and Peach open in Vancouver, British Columbia. This French bistro was known not only for its food, but for its owner, who would sell you a napkin or tablecloth to decorate with felt-tip pens -- and if he liked your work, he might buy it back for the price of your dinner.
Perhaps the name "Frog and Peach" conjures up images of "California farm fresh cooking." It did for Chef Chris Majer and restauranteur Nancy Mootz, who opened a 59-seat Frog and the Peach in Mill Valley, California, in 1996. Of course, being within spitting distance of San Francisco, "farm fresh" was code for Mediterranean inspired California Cuisine, heavy on the local agricultural bounty of Marin and Sonoma Counties. No tadpoles on Majer's menu. You were more likely to find
celery-root cake with chanterelles and roblar cheese, sesame-crusted portobello mushrooms with spaghetti squash and pine nuts, and seven-hour roasted leg of lamb with toasted pearl couscous, carrots and thyme. Surprisingly, Majer backed out of his own venture in 1997. Despite the efforts of replacement chef Craig Stoll, in 1998 the place closed--
only to see a "Frog & Peach Bistro" in Atlanta, Georgia appear. This French bistro had a actual French chef, Francois Collet at the helm. Specialities of the house were papillotte de la mer et son bouillon emulsione aux herbes (parchment baked seafood with herbs and seasonal vegetables), salade de scampis a la creme de poivrons doux (shrimp salad with sweet pepper cream) and piece de boeuf braise et sa polenta (braised beef in red wine sauce with pureed polenta). Collet and his wife Elizabeth McCampbell were familiar with the sketch, but chose the name because they found it an apt description of the mix of their two backgrounds: he's from France (frog) and she's from Georgia (peach). The place closed in 1999.
1998 also saw Canton, Connecticut open its own establishment, "The Frog and the Peach Cafe." Chef Stephen Putnam made nori-wrapped salmon, butternut squash-filled ravioli with brown butter and hazelnuts, Moroccan-glazed pork, and pumpkin bread pudding his signature dishes. Later, when Kevin Buchen took over the kitchen, the menu featured pan-roasted leg of lamb with lentils and sweet-and-sour cabbage, yellowfin tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes, Atlantic salmon filet with a citrus glaze served on spaghetti squash and fried sweet potato threads. The cafe is no longer in business-- although I understand that a Frog and Peach Cafe is open in Peterborough, Ontario.
If you happen to find yourself in Savannah, Georgia, there's a hotel by the name of The Quail Run Lodge, which features banquet facilities and a full-service restaurant by the name of "The Frog and Peach Southern Buffet." Specialties include steaks and chicken. They are served with a dinner salad, and your choice of rice or potato.
Australia has its share of Frog and Peach establishments, two in New South Wales alone. The restaurant in Wyrallah (near Lismore) is no longer open for business, but still hosts the occasional concert. If you're craving Peche a la frog, Ballima will be your best bet.
I don't know if The Frog and Peach Pub in Toronto is still open for business, but the one in San Luis Obispo, California, is alive and well. It's a familiar stop to many a musician touring California, as a venue being located not only in a college town, but about halfway between LA and SF.
You can also find the name Frog and Peach applied to a New York Off-Off Broadway theatre company, an art gallery in Clayton, Georgia, and a Tommy Hilfiger jumper set for baby girls.
And, although there's no certainty that this is a direct result of the sketch (although, why else would you connect the world of amphibians and the world of stone fruit?), Sarah Kilborne's debut children's book, Peach and Blue, tells the story of a blue-bellied toad who befriends a peach, and as the peach passes the point of ripeness and begins her inevitable decline into compost, learns to appreciate all the small things in life.
The Frog and the Peach Web site. <http://www.frogandpeach.com> April 20, 2005
Quail Run Lodge Web site. <http://www.quailrunlodge.com> April 20, 2005
Bill Daley, "The Frog and the Peach Cafe - ***," Hartford Courant,
25 February 2001.
Bill Javetski. "Vancouver's Expo '86: One More Reason to Visit the Northwest," Personal Business. March 10, 1986.
Alan Liddle. Nation's Restaurant News. November 18, 1996. <http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3190/is_n45_v30/ai_18883266>
Krista Reese. "Just Opened - First Visit: The Frog and Peach Bistro." The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
January 23, 1998
Tina Saunders. "ENTERPRISE - Bistro serves continental cuisine with a Southern accent." The Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Constitution. May 21, 1998.