- Trinchero Cabernet Sauvignon
For as long as I can remember, I have been more than willing to try any food, and really, any drink, at least once. After all, isn’t a sense of culinary adventure the key ingredient to being a foodie? Part of my adventurous nature is inherited from my Mexican lineage – memories of my childhood include pig slaughters, fish frys, and barbacoa for Sunday breakfast. The other side is continually nurtured by wonderful people I meet along the path of food discovery – a motley crew of cooks, mixologists, and people who just love to eat. Mollejas (sweetbreads)? Sure. Chicken liver pate? Bring it on. Duck rillette? Um…do you really have to ask?
I first visited Parkside(Link to Menu) a couple of months ago for my birthday dinner with my brother and sister-in-law. As we walked into the dining room, I was delighted by the unpretentious atmosphere, the austere, yet beautiful, décor – and the sound of My Morning Jacket floating from the speakers overhead! We ordered a Trinchero Cabernet and excitedly discussed what we would each order and what we would share.
We started with the Blond Pate served with finely diced strawberries and crostinis. For some, the taste of chicken liver might be more of an acquired taste than duck liver, but the smooth texture and liver flavor was fantastic when paired with the sweet strawberries and light, crispy crostinis. Next up was the sliced veal tongue topped with perfectly breaded, fried sweetbreads. I only have one word to sum up this dish: EXCELLENT.
As the three of us were fighting over the last nugget of sweetbread, the very gracious manager brought us a plate of fritters to apologize for the long wait for our meal. We actually hadn’t noticed, as our attention was consumed by wine, food, and conversation. The crab meat and puff dough fritters served with fresh herbs were crispy on the outside, flavorful and airy on the inside.
The final two plates we shared before our entrees included a butter lettuce salad served with thick, fatty cubes of bacon, which provided a nice contrast to the sweet and creamy lettuce. We also got a taste of the raw bar: delicate slices of bass topped with lime and jalapeno served over fresh avocado slices. The light and savory dish made me want to come back just for the raw bar.
Our entrees were delivered soon after ordering our second bottle of wine, and I had the scallops with porcini mushrooms and potato risotto. After having disappointing scallop dishes at other restaurants, I was impressed by these perfectly prepared scallops, which retained their full flavor and delicate texture. We also ordered several sides to be shared by all of us. The ratatouille was perfectly seasoned and garlicky, with the fresh flavor of each vegetable in each bite. The white mac & cheese with gruyere and white cheddar and the lightly breaded fried okra with ranch dip were fantastic takes on some of my favorite comfort food.
After a couple of hours, we left Parkside(Link to Menu) full and happy – a great meal to celebrate the start of my new year.
We returned to Parkside(Link to Menu) with a few friends a couple of weeks ago and ordered a variety of starters for the table. To our disappointment, some of the dishes we loved the first time were just mediocre this time. The biggest inconsistency was in the ratatouille, which was simply not as flavorful, and we could tell by the cut of the vegetables that it was prepared by a different cook. The service was equally inconsistent, which could be attributed to a busy Saturday night, whereas our first time at Parkside was on a not so busy Tuesday night.
Despite our somewhat disappointing last trip, I will definitely return to Parkside(Link to Menu) soon to delve into the raw bar and to try the seasonal items Chef Shawn Cirkel will add to his already fabulous menu.