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Coming soon...Parka

To far-eastern Lake Street (east of light rail). A joint venture between the Victory 44 crew, Rustica bakery and some coffee guys (I'm not a coffee fan, so I quickly forgot that part of the venture).

The sign says they're opening this fall. I live in St. Paul and I like both Victory 44 and Rustica and this means I don't have to drive nearly as far so I'm all in favor of it.

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  1. Dogwood Coffee, which is not insignificant for us caffeinated types. A few details here:


    5 Replies
    1. re: KTFoley

      I'm practically across the street and often drive to Victory 44, so I'm keeping daily tabs on this and keeping my fingers crossed that my hopes will be met of three things I enjoy a great deal.

      1. re: eastlakovore

        I used to live in the neighborhood. Can you tell me what used to be in the space Parka will occupy? I'm just coming up with the Leviticus Tat place. TIA

        1. re: justalex

          Leviticus is 4109, I think this used to be the Carpenter's Union Hall.

          1. re: SmartCookie

            Thanks Smart Cookie. IIRC, the Carpenter's Union Hall is a cool old building with columns around the steps. I'll have to make a visit.

            1. re: justalex

              The Carpenter's Union Hall is a brick building that looks like it's from the 50s or 60s. I remember because I thought it was ironic that a building "dedicated" to carpenters was made of brick. lol

    2. Hey, they're open! http://twitter.com/parkampls/status/2...

      The lunch/dinner menu looks a little meat-tacular with pork chops and rabbit meatballs and the like, but they've got some lovely salads that can be made vegetarian upon request and indicated that they will be offering some daily specials and might have some vegetarian options via that channel as well.


        1. re: keg

          How do they NOT have a menu posted?

              1. re: tart1

                I'm not searching through 200 instagram pics to find a menu. It should be front and center on everything they are posting.

                1. re: american_idle

                  ha...flights of milk.....now thats funny

                  1. re: brlattim

                    Too early to review review:
                    Living so close I couldn't help but go on opening night.
                    Service jitters aside they will get there. Between the mrs and I we shared two apps, two entrees, and a dessert. It's definitely MN comfort food through V44's stylings.
                    Chicken Wild Rice Soup - Broth poured table side, not cream based, but a very rice broth, toasted wild rice, chicken, and a brown butter. Very good, I could see some argue heavy on the salt, but I lean on the salty side, so no complaints from me, the ras al hanout was a nice touch. Comfort food without being the cream based heavy soup I was expecting
                    Brussel Sprouts - bacon, quail eggs, walnut, they go well, nothing earth shattering, eggs were maybe slightly over done, but the bowl was finished clean.
                    Pot Roast - it was just like how my mom should have cooked it moist and fall apart with a fork without being overdone. With a very delicious puree of something and carrots that she could never do at home.
                    Glazed Ribs - Came with a version of mac and cheese done with vermicelli, a little cold so it lost what I assumed would be an oozy cheesy goodness that you'd like to see. The spare ribs were glazed in rootbeer and mustard seed. Once again a little cold, but the ribs were delicious, the glaze very good. The menu listed kale as part of the dish, though I didn't see it anywhere. I'd order again.
                    Milk and Cookies - five types of housemade cookies/bars/brownies, so filling, likely perfectly sized for 3 or 4 people. All very good desserts, the apricot bar was the standout for the two of us. As for a flight of milk, it was one type of milk (served in a glass version of the little paperboard version from elementary school), but maybe their intention is to go towards several types in the future.

                    By the layout, it definitely looks like the right place to sit is at the high top (I think there were 5 seats) that abuts the open kitchen as that seems to allow for a show while waiting for your food.

                    I think as they work out the bugs and get comfortable (I wasn't expecting flawless on an opening night) I think they will be very well positioned in the area like a Victory 44. They take a nice view on the MN comfort food and from the sampling it looks like they'll be running smoothly quickly.

                  2. re: american_idle

                    There's a tiny little [VIEW MENU] right in the center of their website. It pops up the menu.

                    1. re: Rowdy

                      Cool! Wasn't there this morning. They must have added it when they put up the "Now Open!!"

            1. How will Craftsman respond to the competition?

              1 Reply
              1. re: ChancesR

                They won't because they aren't competing. Bringing more foodie types into the area will only benefit both.

              2. Had lunch with 3 coworkers today. Spare ribs, rabbit meatballs, fish fry, vegetarian du jour.

                Spare ribs came with a vermicelli "pudding". Looked like hash browns in a small cast iron pot, cheese on top.

                Rabbit meatballs were two balls to a mini-hoagie roll, served with beet chips.

                Fish fry was what you'd expect.

                Veg option was grilled mushrooms and popcorn grits. Mushrooms were good and meaty, grits were awesome. Would've gladly ate a KFC bucket full of them.

                Everyone enjoyed their food very much. All plates were clean. A touch expensive vs. portion, but not outrageous. Really nice option / alternative for the area, especially the immediate area.

                1. Had lunch at Parka today with Ms. FH. We shared the Brussels sprouts, she had the beer can chicken, and I had the fish fry.

                  The sprouts were good, but not fantastic. The smoked egg part of the dish was excellent, but the sprouts themselves were average. Could have been caramelized longer. The beer can chicken was very good. Moist and flavorful. The fish fry was excellent. Beyond your average fish fry - the fish was flaky and tender, and the pineapple and aioli were very nice touches that complimented the fish. Finished with a couple of cookies that were fantastic.

                  The only negative was the service - the servers were very nice, but the service was abysmally slow. The place is new, though, so maybe they're just shaking things out. The portions aren't huge, but the quality is great. We'll be back.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: foreverhungry

                    What time were you there? I was present from 12:15-1:15.

                    Fish looked perfectly cooked. I was with a Frenchman who takes his food seriously, his plate was spotless.

                    Server was a bit slow, but it was also packed, and they just opened. I was more put off by the lone person with a laptop taking up a 4-person booth. This will probably be their biggest hurdle, bridging the gap between foodie and cafe loitering types.

                    1. re: american_idle

                      Got there right after you left - arrived around 1:15, 1:20ish.

                      The fish really was excellent. Fish fry all tends to be the same to me, with a few exceptions for better or worse batters. But this one was different - the fish really was the star, and the batter, as good as it was, was not what I was focusing on.

                      When we got there it was was pretty packed, only one open table which we took. Towards the end of our meal, though, we waited a long time for the check, even though we were clearly done. By that time, there were just a few full tables.

                      Yeah, I'm more than willing to cut them some slack for being new and still figuring out service. I had the impression that for two of the servers, this was their first gig as servers.

                      It will be hard to deal with the folks that take up a full table for hours while ordering only a coffee.

                  2. I too went with the missus to Parka today. Got there right before they closed the kitchen for a daily 3-5 p.m. break. I'm betting this cessation goes kaputt once they find their groove; to my knowledge the dinner menu isn't different than the lunch, and so there's no need to prep anything more extravagant. I think it's probably just a beginning buffer to play catch-up.
                    The place did not have the business you guys saw around 'lunch' time, and service by two girls whom I assume as well are new to the service industry was friendly and speedy.
                    We got the wild rice soup, the ribs, and the smoked white fish.
                    I really enjoyed the soup, though I failed to see the wild rice component--perhaps it was the thickener, though my wife suspected corn starch and turned her nose up at it. It would have been nice to have the rustica bread that came with it toasted a little or at least warmed.
                    The spare ribs had decent cola-lined flavor, but they need to get the cook right on these---the gelatin was not dissolved and thus the meat clung to the bone. Not a Stallone in Cliffhanger grip---rather a Gabby Douglas on the bars grip--strong but not life-clenching. No smoke on here, which I didn't expect anyway, but with an oven cook you still need to achieve a lusciousness. These were not how I do my ribs (or anyone south of the mason, probably), and probably not how people want them in the end.
                    Cleverly the smoked white fish was served in what looked like a tuna can, though the noticeable lack of smoke in the fish meant the power of suggestion was strong---it was closer in spirit to canned tuna than a properly smoked whitefish should be. The accompaniments, however, were excellent--a yuzu confection of sorts, and little pops of what seemed to me a wasabi roe--the dish was good for less than ten bucks.
                    Like most people find about Prague, the food was not great but a desire to return most certainly is. The atmosphere was what I love most about the Twin Cities, open and cleanlined and rustic and a little spacey.
                    mouthcrimes.com I think it'll do well.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: parkermsp

                      The day and night menus are very different from one another.

                    2. I went to Parka today for lunch and loved it! I had the "Waldorf" salad - raw kale, nuts, Humbolt fog cheese, and paper-thin slices of green apple - plus the rabbit meatball hoagie (two mini sandwiches) with apricot mostarda and pistachio aioli. Wow. Both dishes were fabulous. I'm living a low-sodium life, so I had to skip the accompanying beet chips (they were so salty they burned my tongue). But the rest of the food was neither insanely salty nor too bland.

                      My mom had the root-beer-glazed spare ribs with crispy kale and vermicelli-cheese pudding. The meat appeared to fall off the bone, and she gobbled every bite. (I got one taste, which was fabulous.)

                      We left with a few Rustica delights: a cherry-frangipane tart for me and two cookies for my mom.

                      We both plan to return soon. By the way, the service at 1:30 pm on a Wednesday was good - not speedy, but not noticeably slow, either. Plenty of open tables, too.

                      1. I'll probably give them another chance, but...

                        We went there for brunch today. I like Dogwood coffee, but I'm a little bummed thatbthe only coffee options are a $2.50 minimum cup with a $1.00 minimum refill. This factored in to today (keep reading).

                        It took over an hour to get our food. Our server "forgot to save" our order when he entered it in the computer. Apologies up and down, but nothing taken off the bill, and no offer to refill coffee for free while we were waiting.

                        Food was okay, but nothing stellar. My daughter loves eggs benedict, and said that my version was better. Maybe she was being nice on Father's Day, but I trust her. The fried sunnyside up eggs for my biscuits and gravy were overdone, but I wasn't about to send it back after waiting an hour. Sausage gravy leaned toward salty. My wife liked the egg sandwich she had.

                        Like I said, I'll give them another shot cuz I want East Lake Street to do well. But only one.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Brad Ballinger

                          I've had the eggs Benedict. The flavors were nice but what I remember most is the bread. It had a very hard crust. While that would ordinarily be something I would enjoy, it was very difficult to cut with a regular dinner knife. I would not order it again unless they start using a different bread.

                          1. re: ChillyDog

                            My daughter had similar issues with the bread.

                          2. re: Brad Ballinger

                            Huh. We were there today too, and also had a very so-so, but somewhat different experience (my husband just murmured "I wouldn't even call it so-so). I wonder if we were there at very different times? (We were there very early in the brunch service.)

                            I've only been previously as a dash-in, dash-out for pastry and coffee, which has always been very good.

                            I had the eggs benedict today, too, and thought they were gloriously lemon-y, which is makes sense since it was described as "yuzu hollandaise" sauce. The poached eggs were spot on. The greens on the side provided a bit of lightness to an otherwise very rich dish. Delicious bread, but as ChillyDog says, crust way too hard. It came with the optional ham even though I didn't ask for it. Still, the ham was nice, though perhaps too thick for eggs benedict.

                            My husband had the biscuits and gravy with the maple sausage and couldn't finish it because he said it was way too sweet, from the biscuits to the cream sauce. "Biscuits and gravy is supposed to be a savory dish," he complained to me on the way out the door. I think he would have welcomed "Too salty." And what's with the celery "chutney", he said. (By this he means there was a dominating amount of celery.) He said his eggs were perfectly cooked, but there was no seasoning on them whatsoever. I had a bite and it was pretty sweet, but I'd also just scarfed down the lemony eggs benny so I wasn't sure at the time if should trust my assessment. I wonder if people complained it was too sweet and they overcompensated by adding too much salt to try to fix it?

                            It seems like a place that wants to welcome young children (neat kids toys and clever design for akids menu) , but where the staff has no actual experience with or training for dealing with kids. No one asked if we wanted a highchair or booster seat (well, they don't have booster seats we were told when we asked), they didn't bring my kid a napkin or flatware for his eggs (which seemed like a huge portion of eggs for a child's portion), and they forgot to bring the jelly for the toast (same hard crust) I had to order on the side. I guess they expect he was going to eat his eggs with his hands? Cut back one egg for the kids and add a slice of toast.

                            I'm pretty sure I'll never be able to get my husband to go back.


                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              Arrived at 10:30. Sat in the booth way in the back. I didn't mind the celery, and thought it was a nice touch.

                              I did taste the hollandaise. Mine might be better (just lemons, no yuzu), but I think they poach their eggs better than I do. I'm slowly beginning to get them puffier.

                              The greens had a great dressing (they were also served alongside my wifes egg sandwich thing).

                              1. re: Brad Ballinger

                                It was difficult to distinguish the dressing on the greens when eating them alongside the yuzu hollandaise. I really did like the hollandaise, but now that your daughter and you have both pronounced yours better, I'm tapping my toe anxiously awaiting an invitation to brunch. Do you have booster seats?

                                I think there did seem to be a lot of celery with the biscuits and gravy, but I really only paid attention near the end of the meal when I realized my husband seemed to have left a lot of food on his plate and I decided to taste it, so all that celery is probably what he picked around. I think just seemed like insult to injury to him when piled onto a very sweet dish. He was absolutely adamant that the dish was inedibly sweet to the point where he felt that it's the type of thing the menu should note or that your server should warn you about, that the biscuits and gravy is a sweet interpretation.

                                I was torn between the eggs benedict and the breakfast sandwich. I wish my husband had ordered the breakfast sandwich!

                                We were most certainly gone by the time you arrived, but you weren't there THAT much later than us. Could it have been a second batch of biscuits and gravy? It just doesn't seem plausible, but how strange to have two very different impressions of the same dish. I trust my husband's palate, but I trust yours too.


                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  It could have been a different batch since I was served mine at 11:30. I didn't find it overly sweet. My batch actually had a tiny kick.

                                  1. re: Brad Ballinger

                                    So odd. Well, if you go back, let us know how it goes. I don't think we'll be back for anything other than coffee and pastries, sadly, unless I go without my husband.