Lunch at Parish Cafe
Where can you find the workings of Ken Oringer, Jody Adams, and Jasper White? Imagine finding them all under the same roof? The Parish Cafe provides its patrons just that, a little taste of Boston’s chefs all on one menu.
On the Great Ones’ side of the menu at Parish Cafe, you will find a vast selection of sandwiches created after the major players in Boston’s game of restaurant roulette. Oringer’s Coppa features pig belly. The Rialto ($13.5) is reminiscent of many favorite Italian flavors. The Summer Shack ($12.5) is White’s take on a classic fish sandwich. If you’re not into name dropping, simply turn the menu over to read the Cafes original classics. While sandwiches still star, the supporting roles are filled by salads, pizzas, daily specials and entrees.
On a very busy afternoon lunch hour, my mom joined me for lunch at this Back Bay hot spot. With waits both inside and out at over 20 minutes, we were happy to squeeze into the bar to speed things up.
For this weekday lunch, I ordered an ice tea (pictured above). The fact that was it unsweetened is a plus in my book. Above us hung their Mug Club, a prestigious circle of those who have managed to indulge in the 100 beers that the Parish Cafe has to offer. Complete this feat and get your very own engraved 25-ounce mug!
My mom settled on the day’s salad special: Beet Salad with walnuts and Gorgonzola over romaine with a light vinaigrette dressing. Served with crostinis, she added chicken on top. Even though I rarely eat beets, I thoroughly enjoyed a small taste of this salad. The beets were soft but not mushy, flavorful without being overpowering. My preference would have been candied walnuts, but the gorgonzola and dressing rounded out all of the flavors. The grilled chicken was served cold and in my opinion, didn’t add too much to the salad (probably why it wasn’t incorporated into the salad on the menu). But I quickly found myself asking for a second small bite.
I chose the Burke Sandwich ($13): created by Jim Burke, the Chef/Owner of Orta in Pembroke and featuring prosciutto, spicy capicola, sopressata and provolone cheese, served on French bread and toasted with olive oil and thinly sliced onions. The first thing I noticed was that instead of the traditional slice down the middle, my sandwich was actually divided into three pieces. I was able to easily give one one piece foe my mom to try, I ate the middle piece (always the best!) and ended up bringing the third piece home for the next day’s lunch!
Aside from the incredible flavor combination of the sandwich, what really made this sandwich was the bread. Too often the main stars of the sandwich (the ingredients) get lost in the bread that is too thick. This baguette was strong enough to hold all of the juices from the meat yet not completely overwhelm them. Toasted to perfection, there was nothing about this sandwich I would change. Simply delicious. Homemade potato salad accompanied my sandwich, which was equally good. Well-mixed with just the right amount of mayo and seasoned with onion and parsley, this was a nice change of pace from greasy fries, which are sometimes too heavy for me at lunch time.
Our meal made me appreciate why there was a line out the door, but after our visit, I happily found out that Parish Cafe is worth the wait!
What’s your favorite sandwich shop?