January 9, 2012

Humble Review: Boston's Parish Cafe

Something that never fails to surprise me is that Bostonians eat lunch really late on Sundays, like almost when us other New Englanders are about to eat dinner. When we showed up at the Parish Cafe, an eatery known for its various sandwiches created by area celebrity sandwiches, for an early dinner before our 5 p.m. train, the place was buzzing with twenty- and thirty-somethings. Despite the abundant crowd, however, there was no wait, and we were seated at a small table by the bar.

Front entrance to Parish Cafe on Boylston St. in Boston, MA.
Tight space though it may have been, the atmosphere was fun -- soul tunes by the likes of Aretha, Lenny, and Stevie were being blasted at just the right octane and the bar was attractively displayed with glasses of all different types. The people-watching was amusing too. There was a couple clearly on their first awkward date directly across from us and lots of other interesting folk to observe.

The beer mugs at Parish Cafe.
The menu, a two-sided foodie's delight, was slightly overwhelming simply because I wanted to try everything. I settled on the The Harrington, described by the Cafe's menu as a romaine salad containing fresh mint, diced cucumbers, sliced red onions, Kalamata olives (I ordered mine san), and feta cheese tossed with a fresh lemon-olive oil dressing and served over grilled Syrian bread. My mate ordered The Benny, a creation by the infamous Ken Oringer of the world-renown eatery, Clio. The sandwich was Vietnamese inspired and consisted of grilled chicken breast sandwich on a hard baguette with veggies and a mint-coriander sauce. Sided with a spicy purple cabbage slaw tossed with tomatoes, fresh mint, Thai basil and cracked peanuts. I had more than my share, and it was delicious, especially if you enjoy Vietnamese fare as much as we do.

According to Zagat rating guidelines, I would give Parish Cafe a 23 for Food, 21 for Decor, and a 17 for Service, the restaurant's weakest link. Here, you're served by multiple people, which isn't really a problem except that none of servers seemed like they wanted to be there at all, despite the inspired playlist. Oh, and the place was hotter than a sauna, which is saying something for someone who's always complaining of being cold. Regardless, I'll be going back to this hot little ticket.

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