Only-Starters Ordering: The Parker’s Bistro Edition

It had been too long since I’d been to Parker’s Bistro for dinner. Sure, I’ve been many times for lunch of late, but when I realized they now had a liquor license, AND that they’d had one since late last year, I knew I’d been negligent in our relationship.

I’ve said this before, but of all the great places to eat in this city, Parker’s is my favorite place to dine. The menu is small and seasonal, with enough familiarity to not overwhelm the traditional, but always twisted and elevated enough to surprise the adventurous.

Beyond the new-to-me ‘Signature’ cocktails (pictured below), Megan and I couldn’t decide on an appetizer, so we decided to order two. And then order another two. And then dessert (pictured above). Ditching the entrees is not something I would normally recommend, but this ended up being a delicious meal, and a lot of fun. Here’s the rundown:

We started with the House Charcuterie and the Ceviche. The charcuterie plate included duck liver pâté, lamb sausage and rabbit terrine. The sausage was spicy and delicious, and coupled with the ground mustard enough for me to forgive the dryness, the pâté was rich and smooth and the terrine was everything a Thanksgiving stuffing should be. The rabbit was delicious, mixed with carrots, pistachio and spices. This would be my favorite thing of the meal. The Ceviche was light and needed a bit of green beyond the cilantro and some spice. That being said, the shrimp, crab and halibut were a nice mix, and the tempura-style triangle of nori sheet interesting if not a bit heavy.

With that, we added a Lavender Martini (Grey Goose Vodka, lavender simple syrup, house made sweet and sour) for Megan and a Cucumber Gimlet (New Amsterdam Gin, muddled cucumber, fresh lime juice and simple syrup) for me. The drinks were refreshing, fun and very tasty. The lavender wasn’t something I would order, but I appreciated trying it. The gimlet was awesome. I want it on every hot day from now until eternity.

The third and fourth starters (though we could no longer call them that), were the Brie en Croute and the Beef Bulgogi. The pastry-wrapped brie was served two ways, one with smoked salmon and apricot ginger, the second lox and creole mustard. The second was easily my preferred of the two. What a beautiful piece of salmon! And with the mustard and cheese, an lovely combo. The smoked was fine, but a bit overpowering, even taking over the apricot ginger sauce. The bulgogi is basically Korean chislic, and was nicely seared while maintaining a medium rare finish. And when it could have been easy to overpower with sesame oil, the dish was very restrained.

Before dessert, we wanted to try more of the drink list, so we added a High Noon (Herradura Blanco Tequila, Campari, triple sec and pink grapefruit juice) and a New French Quarter (Templeton Rye, Couvoisier, Benedictine, sweet vermouth, bitters and an orange peel). Again, solid. These two felt a bit stronger than the previous, if only because the alcohol was a stronger flavor component than in the other two. These are some serious beverages.

Finally (and yes, I do feel a bit gratuitous writing this post!), we finished with the dessert special: a martini glass with a scoop each of rhubarb/lemon and orange/vanilla sorbet, topped with a riesling and lemon cello sabayon and strawberries. I probably don’t need to say this but, if this is offered, do not turn it down. The wine/cello froth was sweet and tart and fresh, the rhubarb/lemon sorbet great.

It was an outstanding meal, even if it didn’t include an entree. And an affirmation for me that Parker’s is still my favorite place in town for fine dining.