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Parish Cafe

TypeA Feb 6, 2008 03:18 AM

At the recommendation of a fellow Chowhound, my husband and I had lunch at the Parish Cafe, located at 361 Boylston Street in Boston. Their description of a lunch spot that is "hip and comfortable" with "top notch sandwiches" was dead on.

With 80's and 90's rock playing in the background, the restaurant was packed for lunch with a diverse crowd of business people, college students, and soccer moms with their kids. Scoring a table in the front window, it was the perfect spot to people-watch, though our attention was quickly diverted to the fresh brewed iced tea and Vegetable Potstickers ($8.95) that soon arrived at the table. Filled with carrots and cabbage, these vegetarian dumplings were served with two sauces: an Asian soy ginger dipping sauce, and a thicker, mayonnaise-based, spicy remoulade. The plastic containers used to serve the sauces were an odd choice, though it didn't take away from our enjoyment.

I used both sauces, first spreading the dumplings with the remoulade sauce, then dipping them into the soy ginger, making sure to scoop up a scallion for added flavor. The wrappers were perfect (not too thick); the dumplings were more flavorful than most I've had, likely a result of sauteing them in a bit of sesame oil rather than steaming. The side of sticky rice made this appetizer filling enough for a lunch entree.

Each sandwich on the menu is created for Parish Cafe by a well known Boston Area chef. I selected the SDLT ($10.95), a spice rubbed, smoked duck breast sandwich served on caraway rye bread with lettuce, tomato, red onion and caper mayonnaise. With a choice of cole slaw or potato salad, I selected the latter. Excellent quality bread was thickly sliced, lightly toasted and filled with a generous portion of sliced duck breast. The combination of the rye bread, red onion, caper mayo and duck was an explosion of intense flavors in my mouth. The red bliss potato salad held a perfect amount of heavy mayonnaise, parsley salt and pepper.

My husband's Black-Peppered Tuna ($14.25) was an entree, as opposed to a sandwich. Grilled and served rare, the steak was edged with crushed black pepper and drizzled with a soy-teriyaki glaze. The side of curried vegetable risotto cake held bits of red pepper and scallion; the thick asparagus was marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil, then grilled. Immensely flavorful, it could only have been improved had the chef used an asparagus peeler on the chewy stalks.

If I lived or worked in the vicinity of the Parish Cafe, I suspect I'd be a regular. The specialty martinis, cocktails and interesting appetizer list would make it a fun after-work spot. It's also a perfect spot to grab lunch when I visit Boston, as I routinely do, particularly given its proximity to Newbury Street.

 
 
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  1. C. Hamster Feb 6, 2008 07:31 AM

    I work a block away and if it were really as good as you say, I might go there that often.

    Having been there many times in the years since its opening, my own personal conclusion is that it is overpriced and not that great.

    We still go there once in a while (maybe once a year) but only 'cause it's there and we are lazy.

    1 Reply
    1. re: C. Hamster
      kobuta Apr 16, 2009 04:52 PM

      Glad to know I'm not the only one. I used to work in the area, and would cringe every time this place was recommended by coworkers.

    2. b
      Boston Scene Feb 6, 2008 11:33 AM

      I couldn't agree more. On Fridays when I take a leisurely lunch break I head over there for their meatloaf sandwich. It's my absolute favorite and the perfect way to end the week.

      1. g
        Gabatta Feb 6, 2008 01:11 PM

        I am addicted to the Zuni roll.

        1. p
          pesto Feb 6, 2008 01:57 PM

          We go there any chance we get! I love when people are as enthusiastic about it as I am. There is an intangible about this place.

          1. w
            wontonton Feb 6, 2008 03:05 PM

            I think the food is fine, but the table service can be spotty or weird. Like, the last itme I was there, 3 separate people were waiting on us. One took a drink order, then another the food, then another for water or additional drinks. I was kind of disjointed and the bill needed correcting in the end. Other times we have sat and had a hard time flagging even one person down to order. Whenever we can we sit at the bar to get the best service, which is always good.

            1 Reply
            1. re: wontonton
              p
              pesto Feb 6, 2008 06:04 PM

              I never had a problem with their method of service. In fact, I was always impressed by how efficient they are!

            2. m
              mikehdow Apr 16, 2009 04:45 PM

              Parish Cafe is one of my favorite lunch spots in Boston. I tend to focus on the delicious sandwiches they have.

              Today, we ordered their onion rings. Unbelievable! Perfect light, crunchy, slightly greasy batter. My mouth still waters when I think about them 8 hours later!

              1. b
                BackBayGirl Apr 17, 2009 06:53 AM

                I love Parish Cafe as well. What's funny is I never really go for lunch. I'm usually there at dinner or for drinks later in the evening. I've never had a bad food experience there. I love their potato salad...and that says a lot because I only eat my mom's potato salad. Anything else I've tried either has too much mayo or a weird vinegary taste. Parish does it right. Not too much mayo at all and nice flavor. My favorite sandwich is the steak and bleu but I think they usually only do it in the summer time or as a special.

                1. l
                  lscanlon Sep 21, 2009 09:54 AM

                  My wife and I were in Boston over the weekend and had a great lunch at the Parish Cafe. I had Sean's Meatloaf Club ($12.75), which was accompanied by mashed potatoes with gravy. My wife had Sean's Simple Chicken ($14.50), which is a version of chicken picatta; it's served over garlic mashed potatoes and baby spinach. Both dishes were wonderful. We ate at the bar and were well served by the bartenders. Parish Cafe will be a must on our next trip to Boston.

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