Shortly after my arrival here on the ATL scene, I received an invite to the grand opening of Parish Restaurant. What a scene it was on the main floor, done up in rustic grunge with a bold dash of subtle elegance to give it lots of class, with a touch of low down, finger licking goodness. Downstairs in what they call—The Market, the look is little less chic and more reminiscent of a country/general store–less the confederate flags I still see hanging and flying when I travel beyond Atlanta. Scary, I know!
The bakery downstairs in The Market has house made organic breads and flaky, butter laden home made pastries; An espresso bar with all sorts of coffee and hot chocolate; A juice bar; A counter where you can order Po-Boy and more all in a sort of grab and go atmosphere where there’s plenty on the shelves–even artisanal wines. Pick out or order what you will and casually take the seat of your choice either inside or outdoors on the patio. Then dig in!
Since it’s opening, Parish has had some good chefs pumping out the food upstairs. A signature for me has always been the BBQ Shrimp ($13). Served in a puddle of flavorful red sauce and toasted baguette for dipping, it’s one of those dishes that you just can’t get enough of ever! It’s still on the menu and as wonderful as ever.
The new guy in the kitchen at Parish–a bacon lover by the name of Chef Joe Schafer, is the best chef they’ve had to date, says me! Don’t get me wrong, all who have come before Chef Joe could cook. But, that Joe guy, now, HE CAN COOK! And for the fact that Chef Joe loves bacon (he cures and smokes his own), he’s definitely alright with me!
After a big effort to lose the extra pounds I found last winter, I am doing my best to locate the great chefs around town who are big on wholesome eating. As such, I’ve taken an interest in farm to table cuisine, which Chef Joe offers on weekends. And so on the Friday leading into the July 4th weekend, a buddy and I popped into Parish to learn a thing or two about the new kitchen master. Chef Joe, a Georgia native, is by no means new to Atlanta, having worked at several other eateries including Rainwater, Globe, Murphy’s and Tap, upon graduation from Art Institute of Atlanta.
Farm to Table at Parish July 15-17, 2011
- Appetizer: Braised pork cheeks, pickled Vidalia onions and a Bacon-watercress salad with brown sugar vinaigrette $10
- Entree: Shallow fried North Carolina flounder served with Low country Hoppin-John, Heirloom tomato relish and high life pan gravy $21
Whether you choose Chef Joe’s Farm to Table picks of the week, or oder my favorites from the menu, you’ll score big at Parish. Here’s what I had…
Joe’s Bacon and Beets ($11). Harmoniously infused with orange, goat cheese, toasted pecans and a burnt honey vinaigrette, I could eat Joe’s beets all day long (pardon the pun). Chilled Asparagus ($9) are served with a poached egg, fried cornbread, a bit of parmesan cheese and pickled local mushrooms, which if memory serves me correct were oyster mushrooms that day–were as fun as assembling a puzzle, only more since we got to eat the puzzle afterwards. And it was sooo good! Organic Mushroom Cheesecake ($8) is perhaps the one thing on the menu that I did not get to try in an effort to practice some sense of discipline. For me it was a trade off for the wine–a combination of a Brachetto and a Moscato. But if you’ve been to New Orleans, you know the cheesecake you find on appetizer and entree menus is not sweet. Quite contrary, it’s usually quite savory and finger licking good. Chef Joe’s has a pecan crust and is served with arugula and smoked creme fraiche.
My buddy Orlando enjoyed the entire Farm to Table menu, including a very moist and wonderfully flavored Olive oil poached Ivory King Salmon with a butter bean puree, corn pudding and roasted cherry tomatoes. OMG, I darn near ate 1/3 of his butter bean puree and 1/2 of the serving of sweet, creamy corn pudding! Since he ordered the special, I opted for the Whole Roasted Georgia Trout ($19) from the menu. As Georgia’s premiere fresh fish, in my opinion, it was as good as Farm to Table. Served with white spoon cornbread, roasted asparagus and a country ham broth, it wa off the chain! By that I mean the trout meat was just beautiful…not overly seasoned, but perfectly seasoned whereby I could taste the freshness of the fish. As for the white spoon cornbread, which was a first for me, it sort of reminded me of a white cornbread dressing—country cooking style.
Rather than dessert, I opted for a piece of fried chicken. Normally served as a Fried Chicken entree ($15)–a breast served with collard greens, grits and pot liquor, I asked for just a chicken breast stand alone. What I should have done was asked the chef where in the world he got the chicken from…in a word, DAMN! Unlike the chicken you buy in the average supermarket, it actually tasted like chicken, as all chicken did when I was a kid. Can you remember that? It was the time when the focus was on doing it right, versus mass profits in the here and now. On top of that the coating was nice and crispy with absolutely no soggy sides like another restaurant in Decatur that serves fried chicken on Tuesdays–and shall remain nameless!
Parish has a ton of other items on the menu to suggest a part 2 to this story. There’s also a great cocktail menu and most likely some wonderful desserts. If you get there before I return, shoot me a line and share your thoughts. Meanwhile, I say, Go, Go, Go and experience the talents of Chef Joe for yourself!