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The Taste of Parkside

Food Blogger happy hour at parkside

By Kate Thornberry, 10:47PM, Thu. Apr. 23, 2009

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Salmon with Green Beans and Pancetta
Salmon with Green Beans and Pancetta Salmon with Green Beans and Pancetta Salmon with Green Beans and Pancetta Salmon with Green Beans and Pancetta Salmon with Green Beans and Pancetta
Salmon with Green Beans and Pancetta
photo Kate Thornberry

Chef Shawn Cirkiel at Parkside invited the Blogitariat down to his place for a Food Blogger Happy Hour to showcase an 8-course tasting menu. I have read about Parkside (particularly M.M. Pack’s Review, which interested me greatly) and I knew it’s general location, but I have never been. Based on the tastes of their menu I enjoyed tonight, Parkside completely lives up to the hype; this place is a real contender.

The concept of the restaurant is one of simplicity: like a white plate, the bare-bones decor and airy basic-ness of the rooms serves to put the emphasis on the food itself. Even the descriptions of the “tastes” (”fluke, lemon, almonds”) were so simple that I wasn’t sure whether I was going to taste one thing, or three. I gather that the regular menu is also strangely plain in style.

But, on to the tastes! First we sampled “Fluke, lemon, almonds”. It came in a little ceramic spoon, and it was very mild, simple, and delicious.

Next, Crab Balls. These were served with fresh herbs, Greek oregano and tarragon, and a remoulade sauce. I very much liked the Crab Balls, mainly because they had an interesting texture: the outer fried shell was chewy, and the inside rather airy, which made a delightful contrast.

Next was the Hit of the Evening: Green Garlic Soup with Duck Confit. Unassuming at first, the creamy, mild soup developed in flavor as it was consumed, and at the bottom of the cup were tiny splinters of Duck Confit, just salty and savory enough to intrigue the palate. Many of us agreed that we would crawl on our bare knees back to Parkside to have it again. This soup is a real triumph!

Next, salami with house pickles. This was a perfectly nice little mouthful, but what I REALLY loved were the pickles. Wee slivers of carrot, but pickled with unusual spices, in what I believe to have been Rice Wine Vinegar; I thought I detected the flavor of lemongrass.

The next taste was salmon, green beans and Linguica: this was one of the more entree-like tastes, a fairly substantial piece of salmon. The combination of green beans and the bacon-like flavor the the Portuguese sausage was quite Southern, and the flavors worked quite well with the salmon, which was perfectly cooked.

Lamb Belly with sweet potato puree and chili oil was the next taste; “belly” is very trendy right now, and I have had some wonderful pork belly dishes; but this was my least favorite of the tastes, mainly because the lamb belly was quite fatty and the sauce too mild.

Bar steak with mushrooms and onions was next, and it was classic. What can be better than steak with mushrooms and onions and red wine? The mushrooms in question were Hen-of-the -Wood, a particularly awesome and relatively rare mushroom (Kitchen Pride grows them, but they ain’t cheap) and the onions were fresh-fried in skinny, darling little floppy rings, just the way I like ‘em.

Dessert was the OTHER big Hit of the Evening (for me, anyway!) Described simply as “Petite Chocolate Crunch”, I have to say it was one of the best desserts I have had in recent memory: a bar of alternating layers of chocolate and crunchy wafer, melded together so seamlessly that you aren’t even sure what the crunchiness you are experiencing comes from! A very delicate crunch, too, like that of rice crispies, if they were as thin as tracing paper. On top, a tiny scoop of banana ice cream, topped with a disc of chocolate wafer. OUTSTANDING!

The dessert chef, Callie Whigham, is apparently quite a star, and the other bloggers also discussed the excellence of her Donut Holes. Mmmmm. Donut Holes. I am going to have to go back! Cross-posted at Hungersauce.com

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