Breezy casual sophisticationEat This! Thursday, June 23rd, 2016
That’s how “Pierce” described the ambience at Parc Bistro-Brasserie, and I had to agree. Garo Minassian, known for numerous popular and award-winning restaurants, has transformed the space previously occupied by Croce’s Park West into a bright urban oasis. Off-white walls and judicious touches of seaside inspired muted pastels. White globe sconces and chandeliers. A mirror and glass back bar. Light-toned wood floors and accents. A large black and white mural of a quintessentially French country cafe. Everything contributing to an air of breezy casual sophistication.
Dustin – friendly and fresh-faced, attentive but not intrusive, introduced the menu inspired by French and Mediterranean cuisine. Pierce and I nursed adult beverages – the Parc ($10) for me and a Thorn Street Saison du Parque ($6) for him, while perusing the evening’s selections. Rosemary Gin is mixed with elderflower liqueur and lemon juice for a complex sweet/sour, herbal/spicy concoction. Refreshing and potable. The Belgian style saison, 6.7 percent alcohol by volume, satisfies with hints of zesty citrus and black pepper. Light bodied and quaffable.
I hadn’t seen my smart and sexy dinner companion for several weeks and we caught up over appetizers, Prime Steak Tartare ($14) and Frisee Lardon Salad ($14) with duck confit ($8). The tartare, served with hot-from-the-fryer waffle cut potato chips, is a velvety blend of minced beef, capers, egg yolk, herbs and Dijon vinaigrette. Fennel provides a surprising licorice note and Dijon cream sauce completes the presentation. Slightly bitter frisee is tossed with smoky lardons and crunchy croutons in a delicate bacon and shallot vinaigrette. Two soft poached eggs nest on top. The confit leg and thigh is rich, savory and succulent with a delicious crispy skin.
I chose the Dijon Chicken Fettuccini ($18) as my entrée, and Pierce selected the Butter Roasted Salmon ($22). The pasta, topped by grated parmesan, is a delicious well-balanced mélange of fall-off-the-fork-tender chicken combined with roasted cherry tomatoes, ripe olives, garlic, olive oil and chile flakes. The eight ounce salmon fillet rests atop earthy lentils sweetened with a dash of orange juice. Asparagus tips and a drizzle of asparagus cream sauce completes the plate.
I paired a glass of Zenato 2014 Pinot Grigio ($8) with the chicken, and Pierce ordered a Cucumber Gimlet ($10). The zesty straw colored pour greets the nose with tart citrus and stone fruits, then presents smooth undertones of green apple on the palate. The finish is long and pleasant. The mix of gin, basil, lime juice and simple syrup, garnished with a slice of cucumber, is thirst-quenching and delightful.
Dustin then tempted us with a recitation of the dessert options, which ranged from crème brûlée to fruit sorbet to chocolate ganache with mocha crème sauce and fresh raspberries. Pierce and I shared the Apple Tarte Tartin. A flaky pastry base heaped with sugary hot apples floats on a meander of caramel sauce. Fresh berries, a dollop of homemade vanilla ice cream and a dusting of powdered sugar add the final touches.
Chef Donald Lockhart (La Jolla’s Cusp restaurant) helms the kitchen. Lockhart’s simple cooking approach is to gather the freshest ingredients, use time-proven techniques and allow the flavors to shine. Parc Bistro-Brasserie has been open for a few short weeks and the menu is still being tweaked, but I’m not sure how one improves perfection. Eat this, hungry readers. You’ll be glad you did.
2760 Fifth Ave.
Open daily 11:30 a.m. (10:30 a.m. Sat. and Sun.)-10 p.m.
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