Parish - a review

Parish is a new member of the concentrics group. Generally I am a fan of these establishments. One is my sweetheart of the city. A friend alerted me to Parish restaurant/market when it appeared in daily candy several weeks ago. I quickly searched for a website telling more about this new establishment. The website is promising. In reality I was disappointed. Parking as in grand style of city living is a crapshoot. Especially during busy hours. It's not a big restaurant or market for that matter. The site states, " [the market] boasts shelves stocked with fair trade goods". Shelves less in count than my linen closet. It may be just me but retail items in my face while I am trying to enjoy a relaxing meal just stresses me out. The baked goods in the modest market are actually very tasty. The coffee is delicious. There is a quick pop in style sandwich shop on the same level. The servers run food upstairs to patrons in the dining room as the kitchen is downstairs as well. It's chaos to watch if you're sitting in eyeshot enjoying your food on the lower level.

Once seated in the restaurant we were given a paper bag with the days' wine offerings on one side and the raw bar nibbles on the reverse side. The actual food menu is on chalkboards posted on the walls. The room is very noisy as are most of the concentrics restaurants. I certainly wouldn't go there with someone you want to have a long conversation with. Outdoor dining is available if you don't mind looking at cars and asphalt.

After eyeing the chalkboard of items it is a decidedly cajun inspired menu. First item up, crispy oysters rockafeller. I couldn't quite find the oysters in the big puff of batter and didn't care to finish the plate. It was more like a beignet. Little crisp and lots of chew. As much as I adore fried food, I adore oysters even more and missed them in this dish.

Next up the house cured charcuterie. Pretty standard. Acceptable. Forgettable. It got finished but the portion is very small so you decide how to take that. Dinner was something I can sing about: Braised pork cheeks over a crawfish johnnycake. Balanced, well made, interesting and quite simply delicious.

By 7:30 on a Tuesday night this open dining room was getting full. Surprisingly so. I couldn't decide if it was due to the newness of it or if these are repeat patrons. Are they really coming back for the food? Two desserts came out. A chocolate silk pie, frozen, with zero flavor. Second, an espresso mousse type pie. Tastier than the first but still nothing memorable. I would have done better to get a bakery pastry brought up to my table.

I will say the restaurant is well staffed with attentive servers. I have this opinion that when you try to do more than one thing well everything involved suffers. In my opinion that is the case with Parish. I'd love to see the downstairs be the entire concept and remove the upstairs restaurant entirely. More spacious and focused market on one level and bakery/sandwich shop on another with roomy less noisy dining/seating area(s). Little bits of everything is just too much for me. I want a lot of something really great. I didn't get it there.

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