Monday, October 23, 2006

one of the 50 best restaurants in America

I went out to dinner with some friends last Friday--a kind of memorial dinner. We did an informal writing retreat in the summer, and want to keep the energy alive; also just to have fun.
We went to Parker's New American Bistro and it was wonderful--above is my entree, a moistly tender piece of pork loin with just the right amount of chewiness. And here's the lamb sausage on a polenta cake appetizer: also extremely good (I snagged the last bite).
One of the nice things about Parker's is that everything is very good, and also as local as it's possible to be when you're running a restaurant. Parker is a local-foods advocate, and is active in various ways around Cleveland and northeast Ohio in the farmers markets, etc. In fact, he's closing the restaurant to give more time to these activities, which is good and bad. Good: more attention to local food, better farmers markets. Bad: no more Parker's.
So this dinner might have been a swan dinner, if I don't make it back before the end of December. It made me think of all the times I'd been there before. It's in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland, which is where I went to high school, so the 19th-century building was familiar to me from before it was a restaurant (it's quite close to a boys' school, in the vicinity of which the girls from my girls' school did a certain amount of hanging out).
And then later, when I was working at Cleveland State, my boss would sometimes take me to dinner at Parkers. He liked it because they would bring his plate without any garnish or vegetable. He didn't like to see anything impinging on his meat and potatoes--it ruined his appetite, he said. At other restaurants they would say they'd leave off the carrots or the curly kale, but then they would forget. He also liked the dessert souflees, which had to be ordered at the beginning of the meal (they still do). I had my first souflee there--lemon, very good.
Parker's was featured by Gourmet as one of the 2006 50 best restaurants--one of not so many Cleveland restaurants to be so honored--so it's quite a loss. I'm thinking I ought to go once more at least before it's gone forever.


holly_44109 said...

We went there last year for New Year's Eve dinner. My short ribs were delicious but I thought the best part of my meal was the side of kale! Yum!

lucette said...

On this plate, the corn was the most amazing of the vegetables--I had the feeling it had been cut from the cob only minutes before the plate sailed in to the dining room.

bloglily said...

Just beautiful. How sad it's closing. There aren't many places where they actually listen when you say, please, no veggies. (Your boss sounds like a person who knew just what he wanted.)

Liz said...

Sounds incredible (but bittersweet). I was glad to see two (!) Maine restaurants on that list. I hope to make it to Fore Street someday. The Arrows is much too prohibitive, costwise.

My inlaws took us to some up-and-coming place this fall, and I was so *bothered* by the lack a vegetables. This from a place that brags about how they're sourcing local ingredients. I guess to some chefs "local" means local meat. Hmph.

lucette said...

Bloglily--he did know just what he wanted! which was sometimes annoying and sometimes part of his charm.
Liz--Arrows is on my restaurant wish list--some day maybe.

erieblue said...

Well, we could always have the Christmas lunch there!!