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Feb 6, 2008 03:18 AM

Parish Cafe

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. 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

      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. 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. I am addicted to the Zuni roll.

        1. 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. 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

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