For Valentine’s Day this year, we decided to celebrate early, avoid the crazy crowd, and head to Parkside.
I had been wanting to go to Parkside for a while, but with a strict budget and a toddler, we don’t get out to restaurants without kid menus very often. We splurged precisely because of that – who knows when we’ll get to do it again? – and had a fantastic meal.
I’m one of those people who researches the menu before I go to a place, so I already knew what I wanted to order. Our waiter Mo did a great job of telling us about the menu, confusing me on Prosecco, and overall being jovial and attentive. It probably didn’t hurt that I purposefully made the reservation for 6:30, before the crowds would be showing up.
Starting off we had two incredibly strong cocktails: the Dirty Tito (Tito’s Vodka, olive juice, dry vermouth) and the Wild Basil (Leblon Cachaca, Pernod, grapefruit, and basil). They were good, but because they were so strong we moved on to Old Speckled Hen beer (for him) and Prosecco (for me) when our cocktails were finished.
(Apologize in advance for not having photos of my husband’s food, and the poor picture quality. I need to learn how to take photos better in low-light situations!)
My first course consisted of diced raw salmon belly, pineapple, and mint, topped with a caramelized pineapple chip and green onion shavings. It was a little sweeter than I had expected, but it was a very light and refreshing way to start off the night. In contrast, my husband had braised baby back ribs served with sofrito (tomato and onion sauce) and a cilantro-onion salad.
Next up was a surprise – the chef sent out butternut squash soup with brown sugar (brown butter? I can’t remember!) swirl, topped with a bacon marshmallow. Now, I adore butternut squash, so I might be a teensy bit biased, but this was my favorite dish of the night.
For my main course I chose the braised pork jowl with ras el hanout spices, polenta, and micro greens. The pork was so wonderfully tender and buttery that I had no problem eating the entire thing. It did seem a little heavy on the salt, but that was easily cut with the simple polenta. My husband had what my other choice would have been the venison steak served with brown lentils and bacon lardons. We each tried the other’s dish and declared our own the best. Also not pictured were the Brussels sprouts with bacon, which came in a completely adorable mini Le Creuset cassarole. The thing I appreciated most about the sprouts is that they came late. Why is that a good thing? Because our original order was held back – they weren’t up to the chef’s standards. And for something as simple as Brussels sprouts, I think that says a lot about the quality of the kitchen.
We ended with dessert consisting of a chocolate-peanut butter concoction (I can’t remember the name, sorry!) and milk sorbet. Chocolate and peanut butter are a favorite combination, and this didn’t disappoint. It was a great finish to one of the few and far between date nights we get. I definitely plan to return.