Parish Foods & Goods
Many restaurants in Atlanta implement the culinary perspective of southern tradition meets fine dining. I love this combination, particularly when a restaurant does it differently and uniquely. On Saturday night, I got to experience quality southern food in a casual, laid back environment at Parish Foods & Goods. Formerly an old pipe factory, Parish is located in the Inman Park/Virginia Highlands area. The restaurant’s rustic vibe is welcoming, yet the quality of food is not compromised. Chef Nick Melvin uses seasonal, local produce to create an ever-changing menu that pleases a variety of diners, even gluten-free customers.
Last weekend David and I went to dinner with my cousin, Margaret and her boyfriend, Chip so we decided to try Parish. This was my first trip to Parish, but I had heard many cool things about not just the food, but also the ambiance and décor at Parish. For those of you that remember, last Saturday’s weather was unusually freakish and weird, even compared to the last nine months in Atlanta. Fortunately, like every other restaurant in Atlanta, Parish had valet so upon arrival, we handed off the keys and made a mad dash to the front door. (Has anyone else noticed that valet is everywhere in Atlanta? I mean, it’s not like parking is tough here.)
We went inside Parish and I immediately fell for the décor and the atmosphere. The bar is warm and welcoming. (Cue Cheers theme music.) I can definitely see just going to Parish for a beverage and an appetizer, sitting at the bar. The exposed brick and understated interior makes Parish feel anything but pretentious. There was live music in the front of the restaurant and of course the ‘old person in me,’ wanted to sit far away from the solo artist and his guitar. Unfortunately, there was a prom group occupying the back of the restaurant so we stayed near the tunes. Good news, though! The music didn’t bother me at all. The tables are cozy enough that we didn’t have to shout at each other across the table and I ended up enjoying the music. It didn’t dominate the feel of the restaurant, but provided nice background noise.
Once we were seated, the waitress was very attentive and informative about the menu. I love the huge chalkboard that overlooks the main dining room, because it adds to Parish’s casual vibe, and provides a written reference for the specials. It also listed the fresh vegetable side dishes which I immediately gravitated towards. (Yum, carrots, greens, snow peas…) The chef briefed our server about the gluten-free options on the menu and I was impressed by how many items were naturally gluten-free or could easily be tweaked. As I’ve mentioned before, appetizers can be particularly tough to find GF options, but there were many on that evening’s menu. Some of my options included:
- Milk & Honey Salad (sans house made nougat)
- Parish Sausage Plate
- Eggs & Bacon (skip the brioche toast)
- Crab & Avacado
- New Orleans BBQ Shrimp (hold the toasted baguette)
Wow! It made me want to come back to Parish just for the appetizer options. I’m not used to having so many choices so I had some difficulty deciding what to order. David and I ultimately decided to share the Crab & Avacado appetizer that included lump crab, avocado, ginger pickled beet root, and ricotta salata. Chip and Margaret chose that appetizer too, and it was thoroughly enjoyed by both the gluten-free and glutenous eaters. It was the perfect size for sharing but I could have eaten the whole thing by myself.
While we often associate southern food with “battered and deep fried”, there were many non-fried, gluten-free entrees on Parish’s menu for me. Yes, I was momentarily envious of the ‘Big Easy Fried Chicken” platters the waiter carried past my table, but my eyes quickly moved down the menu to my other options. Of course the buttermilk braised pork and dumplings, with spring succotash also caught my attention, but I was sure that dish wouldn’t be an option. When the waitress told me that I could order the pork without the dumplings, I was psyched because I love braised pork shoulder. So instead of the dumplings, they let me get my choice of one of their veggie sides. Since the dish already came with spring succotash, I ordered the roasted carrots.
When they brought out our entrees, mine didn’t look any different than David’s who ordered the pork and dumplings, with dumplings. Actually they looked so similar, that I was nervous at first, but upon close examination we found the dumplings in David’s and purple carrots buried underneath the tender, braised pork. Yummy! I loved the crunch of the carrots and peas with the tender pork. Both a contradiction and a complement. I could really taste the flavors of the meat and veggies because they weren’t overpowered by a thick sauce. The two boys and I all ordered the pork and Margaret ordered the duck special that also looked amazing and most likely gluten-free.
My only gluten-free criticism of our dining experience at Parish was a lack of gluten-free desserts, but honestly, by the end of the meal, I was so full, that dessert probably wasn’t an option anyways. Maybe in the future, they’ll experiment with some southern gluten-free desserts, as their menu’s always changing.
After dinner we checked out the downstairs part of Parish. For lunch and throughout the evening, this part of the restaurant is open, selling sandwiches, salads and lighter food. I will have to go back to check out my gluten-free options. They have a nice area to sit outside that would be nice when it’s not pouring rain. Parish is also known for their brunch, giving me yet another reason to return to Parish. Has anyone ever tried Parish’s market or their brunch?
Final Verdict: Loved the overall feel of Parish and enjoyed the food. I will definitely be back to try out other options and see how the menu changes as we head into the summer months. The staff understood my gluten-free needs and were very willing to accommodate me. Worth the trip (and a return trip)!
Parish Food & Goods – 240 North Highland Ave – Atlanta, GA 30307 – 404.681.4434