I have long been meaning to make it back to Parish Foods & Goods — the Inman Park restaurant that went up during the building boom along Highland Ave. a few years ago.
Actually, it didn’t go up but in fact it was the last remaining structure from an 1890s pipe factory that once dominated the streetscape. This long, weathered brick building has good bones, and Parish uses the space well. The front entrance leads to the warmly funky top floor, which is a full-service restaurant. The back entrance takes you down to a market/cafe with a great communal table, sandwiches and salads, coffee and pastries, and lots of fun clutter to look at.
While I’ve enjoyed the cafe many times, I hadn’t been back to the restaurant since the opening chef Nick Melvin left (to go to Empire State South, and then Rosebud) and a new chef, Joe Schafer, took over. With Schafer, the restaurant subtly but definitively steered away from its Louisiana menu and toward a more general Southern one.
Our meal was a bit of a mixed bag, starting well but not following through.
But trouble came with entrees. This fried chicken breast was like rawhide on the tapered end, parching and stringy in the thickest part. We speculated it was a twice-cooking technique gone awry. The bed of grits had one of those skins you could peel off wholesale.
The whole fish, a loup de mer, was fresh and succulent, but the garnishes pitched a fierce battle for attention. That’s butternut squash, vinegared raisins, capers, spinach and a ferociously sweet/tart lemon sauce. Not sure why it’s brown.
Best was this square of pulled pork, compressed and crisped in hot oil. Its onion butter helps to moisten it, though that endless mound of braised cabbage and cornbread were both forgettable. That pork could star on a more interesting plate of food.
We ended with a chocolate tart with an impossible-to-cut crust. My daughter, determined not to let any sweets go to waste, kind of used her fork like a chisel to break it up. But not a great last impression.
I’d give Parish another shot at dinner sometime, but I’ll gladly keep going to the cafe.