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Atlanta Revisited: Parish restaurant review, Inman Park

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Occasionally a restaurant must reinvent itself to stay current and viable, particularly in places where new restaurants continually spring up to steal all the buzz and some of the clientele.

Parish is one of those restaurants. Housed in a century-old, stand-alone brick building situated just over the bridge in Inman Park, Parish began its existence as a Creole restaurant. It later switched chefs and trended towards a more traditional pork-centric Southern menu.

Now, with new chef Edward Russell, who joined the team last spring, the restaurant describes its food as regional American fare with local influences.Jenny-Turknett-Review

Parish is owned by Concentrics Restaurants, which also owns One Midtown Kitchen, Two Urban Licks and, mostly recently, The Spence. Like its sister restaurants, Parish has a highly styled interior. Its neutral color palette composed of exposed brick and weathered tin ceiling tiles provides a backdrop for the brilliant glowing red lamps set at regular intervals down the length of the bar.

To this slick spot, Russell, once a clinical psychologist, brings his Southern roots and experience from working in the kitchens of 5 & 10 and Farm 255 in Athens. Chef Russell was also involved in the creation of the Four Coursemen Supper Club, a nationally publicized endeavor.

While some former menu items remain (with Russell’s tweaks), others have been added and Russell’s overhauled menu will roll out later this fall. Pork still plays a prominent role in Parish’s fare. The French onion soup ($6) with hyper-concentrated onion flavor uses house-made pork brodo (broth) instead of the traditional beef. You’ll also still find (not-at-all) crispy pork shoulder ($25) at dinner. Yet, the pork, sourced from Georgia’s Gum Creek Farms, has that wonky flavor I associate with meat that’s been zapped for a minute and half.

To the contrary, I’d return for the actually crispy Springer Mountain fried chicken ($18), twice dredged in buttermilk and flour. Golden, nutty and sweetened with a touch of honey, it comes with vinegary collards made with bacon and pork bones. Russell also switched out the grits paired with the chicken, substituting a surprisingly savory honey-roasted carrot and sweet potato puree.

Crispy Springer Mountain fried chicken (Photos by Becky Stein)

Crispy Springer Mountain fried chicken (Photos by Becky Stein)

The chicken far outshines other entrees. The clams and bacon dish ($18) is a forgettable montage of Sapelo Island clams, miniscule bits of bacon and a broth much like tomato concentrate. The gnocchi ($20) was overcooked and tasted as if it, too, were reheated.

I’d steer you towards some of the starters like the raw-marinated squash salad ($9) with a nice crunch, shaved grana cheese and more texture from the chopped Marcona almonds. Or get a plate of boquerones ($8), marinated anchovies starring in a playful but balanced dance with acidic grapefruit sections, creamy avocado and pickled fennel.

Boquerones

Boquerones

Sit on the quiet patio in this nice fall weather with a cocktail like the Horse’s Neck ($9), a bright, citrusy bourbon-based libation with ginger beer and orange bitters, and make a meal of these appetizers. Add the Pine Street Market charcuterie plate ($19) and a cheese board ($12). Pick your way through the cured meats like dry-cured coppa and paprika salami and cheeses like the mild and creamy Blu di Bufala. House-pickled fennel, beets and radish and tangy apricot mustard add dimension to the meat and cheese.

To finish, pastry chef Deborah Craig offers a range of desserts, many including house-made ice creams. I’d love to see an ice cream tasting menu here, as these seem to be Craig’s sweet spot. The vanilla bean cheesecake ($7) is slightly soft and cheesy for my taste, but I adore the Mirabelle plum sorbet, sweet, tangy and all plum.

On one visit, we skipped the plated desserts and tromped downstairs to the charming market with cushy chairs and a long wooden communal table for an espresso, a wedge of German chocolate cake and fat homemade Nutter Butter rounds.

This is a restaurant in transition. It continues to try to mold itself to the needs of a neighborhood bustling with restaurants. In the meantime, if you’re in the area and don’t want to wait 30 minutes for a table or elbow your way to the bar at another Inman Park hot spot, grab a drink and make a nice meal of a few appetizers and a shared fried chicken entree.

PARISH

1stars5240 N. Highland Ave., Atlanta. 404-681-4434

Food: Regional American fare
Service: Friendly enough, but varied in knowledge about the menu
Best dishes: Boquerones, squash salad, fried chicken
Vegetarian selections: Vegetable plate
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Price range: $$$
Credit cards: All major credit cards
Hours: 5:30-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 5:30 -11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5:30-9 p.m. Sundays
Children: Well-behaved ones okay
Parking: Valet
Reservations: Yes
Smoking: No
Noise level: Low
Patio: Yes
Takeout: Yes
ratings_key_febUSE

22 comments Add your comment

Art

October 25th, 2012
8:23 am

I marvel at a place that has the “gumption” to charge $25 for pork shoulder and $18 for one breast of fried chicken. I wish them much success.

Jeff

October 25th, 2012
8:53 am

I have never understood the allure of Parish. My one visit was enough to never justify a return. The food was very average but the service was Atlanta snobbery at its best. (something I have noticed with other Concentrics restaurants.) It’s a great space that is in dire need of a new tenant.

Alocal

October 25th, 2012
8:54 am

It must have been dead because if the dining room is even half full this is one of the loudest spots in Atlanta.

[...] Atlanta Revisited: Parish restaurant review, Inman Park [...]

Steve

October 25th, 2012
9:12 am

I’ve never been impressed with the dining room upstairs, but I do love heading to the market (downstairs) for a weekend brunch!

M.Johnson

October 25th, 2012
11:52 am

Awesome, awesome review, Jenny. I definitely will give them a try, perhaps just for a cocktail and the boquerones.

It’s very telling that the best experience seems to involve spending $40 for a cocktail, charcuterie plate and a cheese board. As for the $18 chicken dinner, we’ve seen that at Watershed and JCT Kitchen. I’ll make my own.

southern hope

October 25th, 2012
11:54 am

i still don’t understand the star system at the ajc.com….if I saw this at any other site, I’d think the kitchen has been condemned…..here, it just means “good place!”

FoodFan

October 25th, 2012
12:18 pm

Agree with Steve – I’ve had lackluster food upstairs but the downstairs market has much better offerings.

HotlantaHobo

October 25th, 2012
12:24 pm

This makeover is a reminder that this market doesn’t eat seafood unless it’s sushi. As always, creole/cajun/New Orleans food fails here. Why?

SP

October 25th, 2012
1:05 pm

Downstairs in market at Parish is where it’s at! Best tomato soup and sandwiches ever!

trailerparkted

October 25th, 2012
1:34 pm

Overpriced Overpriced and Overpriced!

Edward

October 25th, 2012
3:06 pm

I’ve dined there twice. I always try to give a place a second chance after a bad experience. I’ve not been back after the second time. Food was mediocre, at best, but service was abysmal. Even with the dining room a quarter occupied, and the appearance of a full compliment of staff, our waiter (for a table of 6, the other 4 tables had 2 occupants each) was off in Neverland, apparently. A long 20 minute wait just to get drink orders in, then another 20 minutes to be served them (and half of them were wrong and had to be redone). Then another 15 minutes for him to appear and take our orders for food… he never even asked if we wanted appetisers. Our food orders arrived but the common complaint was the food was lukewarm to cold. A cold, overcooked poached egg is not appetizing. After that horrible brunch, we went downstairs to the market, only to be told that everything there was not for sale, it was being held for someone else. No, I enjoy many other restaurants in that neighborhood, but Parish is definitely off my list.

Baltisraul

October 26th, 2012
8:00 am

Closed in 60 days!

LR Bergeron

October 26th, 2012
2:00 pm

The Springer Mountain Fried Chicken looks great and sounds delicious! LR Bergeron

Baltisraul

October 26th, 2012
2:57 pm

Art………$18.00 for 1 piece of chicken! How many sides do you get, twelve?

Art

October 26th, 2012
3:50 pm

Balt, I figure there’s got to be at least 12 sides and maybe a free drink… LOL! Then again, you haven’t tasted chicken if you haven’t had Springer Mountain chicken… not only free-range but they’ve got these tiny little hiking boots and lederhosen. Have a great weekend!

Baltisraul

October 26th, 2012
10:07 pm

Art…….little chickens dressed up in lederhosen, not a good picture to remember. Better question, what do the roosters wear, jackboots?

Pierson

October 29th, 2012
1:29 pm

I lived across the street from Parish for years. I’m quite astonished it is still open. The food has never been note worthy and the wine list was mediocre at best. As a neighbor, I enjoyed being able to pick up a dessert for my children, but I can’t say anymore for the restaurant. It is a great location, so I hope something fabulous moves in!

WendyG.

October 30th, 2012
4:24 pm

I am astonished at the review, and even more so by the witless comments. Parish is a lovely restaurant, and we’re willing to drive there all the way from Brookhaven quite regularly. It’s absurd to complain about the service – we’ve always had fantastic, professional service from everyone who works there. Atlanta snobbery at its best? I can’t even imagine what you’re talking about, Jeff. (The remark doesn’t even make sense.)

And really, people – this isn’t Chick fil-a and you aren’t going to get this sort of chicken for $3. Brunch is fabulous: the shrimp and grits recipe now is lighter and more delicious than ever. The waffle is perfect.

Really, one star? Two for The Spence? I give up on witless AJC reviewers. But hey – it’s the AJC, so what do you want?

PJ

October 31st, 2012
11:13 am

I’ve been to Parish a few times under different iterations, most recently a few weeks ago. My first experience there was fun – the dining room was packed, the food was yummy and I left knowing I’d be back. My last experience there was completely underwhelming. While nothing was bad, nothing was really great either. The cheese plate was good, but when ordering, one of my table mates inquired as to the sourcing of the cheeses. Based on the fact that it is described on the menu as “local cheese plate,” this seemed a simple enough question. Our server was clueless (very nice and immediately offered to go and find out) & came back with the answer, “some in North Carolina & some near here.” Is that really what the chef said? We also shared some H & F pretzel bites & the charcuterie plate, both of which were good, but both shared the same, sweet, apricot mustard. I got the fried chicken Jenny mentioned and I thought it was really good, but only for a few bites. I know this is personal, but it got to be too much sweet & meat going on. I didn’t have enough of anything to really offset it – the apricot mustard has already punched my palate with sweet & meat before my entree. Dessert is where things got weird. I ordered the Chocolate Malted “Whopper” Pavlova, fully expecting the pavlova part. What I didn’t expect was chocolate ice cream. But there it was, sitting on top of my meringue. It wasn’t listed in the description. It was tasty, but unexpected. Given the range of restaurants surrounding in the vicinity of Parish, I cannot say I’ll be back there when I’m going out in that area.

Art

October 31st, 2012
2:31 pm

It’s nice to know that us “witless” folk have WendyG to set us straight… particularly being the worldly Brookhaven traveler that she is. Errr… I think that’s about 9 miles?? Really?? In Atlanta?? You’re more than welcome to your opinion but don’t trash everyone else’s. There’s a few of us on here who happen to think that this blog can be informative and humorous at the same time.

Edward

October 31st, 2012
4:06 pm

WendyG is typical of her kind. She can’t express her opinion without demeaning everyone else’s. That makes me value her opinion even less. What is absurd is her arrogance