Monday, February 18, 2008

Parish Cafe, Masa and The Pour House

Long weekends are absolutely one of my favorite things. The extra 24 hours seems like just so much more time to spend with family and friends, and to fit in that relax time that we all seek. To me, they are also perfect opportunities to experience food :-)

Saturday night my friend A and I had dinner at Parish Cafe on Boylston Street in the Back Bay. I have never had a bad meal at Parish, it is definitely one of my favorites places for a reasonably priced meal. Saturday was no exception. We started with turkey meatballs in a turkey gravy, served with crostini topped with an apricot glaze. Two meatballs were brought to the table in a shallow boat filled with the turkey gravy. Three crostinis were artfully placed around them. Personally- if you are going to serve two meat balls- wouldnt it be better to serve two or four pieces of crostini? Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole appetizer. The apricot glaze complimented the delicate flavor of the meat balls well, and it was a lovely way to start the meal.

The fun thing about Parish, I find, is that their menu consists mainly of sandwiches created by different chefs in the area. I chose a veal pastrami sandwich served on french bread with a spicy mustard. I have found that there are several ingrediants that I cannot resist ordering- normally they include avocados, mussels and mustard-though not together. The idea of a spicy mustard sounded fantastic on Saturday and I was very pleased that they elected to allow the meat to shine without smothering it with cheese. All in all the sandwich was tasty, though I found it easier to eat disassembled with a fork and knife then as a sandwich.

A elected to have a sandwich that I actually recommended to her. Their Elephant Walking On Eggs sandwich is delicious- an omelette consisting of several fresh vegetables and goat cheese creates a light mix, served on a french baguette. A small side salad of fresh spring greens is served with it and all together you feel almost refreshed at the end of the meal while getting lots of proteins.

I have heard several complaints of bad service at Parish, however I have never experienced this myself. I have always found the staff to be helpful and attentive, though sometimes you may not know who your actual waiter is.

Sunday morning, my mother and I decided to get brunch at Masa in the South End. I have been to Masa several times before and while I loved it the first time I dined there, I have not been as impressed in subsequent visits. Unfortunately, Sunday morning followed this trend. Through our own fault, we had failed to make reservations for brunch and showed up at around 12:30 pm. We were greeted and told that our wait would be a half an hour. In actuality, we waited forty-five minutes to an hour in a very cramped space with many other parties. This is one of my pet peeves with restaurants. I understand that it is difficult to be 100% accurate with wait times, but I do not anticipate them to be off by basically double what they quoted. We were finally seated though, and promptley greeted by our waiter who got right to work on getting our drinks- a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice for my mom and a cup of coffee for me. He then took our orders, banana stuffed french toast for my mother, and southwestern eggs benedict for me. Unfortunately they were out of the french toast, and my mother was left to choose a new entree. After hoping to have bananas added to the chocolate chip pancakes, but was dismayed to find that that wasnt possible, she settled on a hamburger. She was rather disappointed that there were not many options available on their menu that did not have eggs in the starring role. Basically most options consisted of eggs scrambled or in an omelette. However, to make up for the disappointment of my mothers meal, our generous waiter brought over Masa's signature spring rolls on the house. These were delightful, fried wonton rappers filled with meat and spices, served with a salsa and sour cream based sauce. Finally our meals arrived and they were both slightly disappointing. My mother marked nothing exceptional with the burger and found that any diner could have done better. My eggs benedict were not much different. The poached eggs were served on biscuits with avocados and a hollandaise sauce. The sauce did not have a lot of flavor to it, and it congealed a bit too fast for my taste. The biscuits were dry did not absorb the egg yolk as they should have. It was served with a side of home fries that were actually rather tasty.

Brunch is one of my favorite meals and I was disappointed that this menu was limited in its options and those options were not perfected. I will continue to hope that Masa returns to the caliber it was at a few years ago, but this is marked down as another disappointment. Masa Restaurant

Sunday evening I met up with friends to toast our former presidents with some beers, and since we are always up for cheap beer and cheap but tasty food, we decided to head to the Pour House on Boylston Street which has both. We settled into a back booth for some girl talk and indulged in their 22 oz beers and a plate of nachos for the three of us. While its not easy to mess up nachos, I have had worse. The Pour House did a tasty job of combining cheese, olives, jalepenos, salsa and sour cream on top of a mound of tortilla chips. An excellent start to our meal. I then had a blackened chicken cesar wrap that was accompanied by crispy french fries. Now, I have to say that there was a bit too much dressing in the wrap, and Im not so sure that the chicken was blackened, but it was otherwise a good wrap for the price. You dont go to a place like the Pour House for their cuisine but for the scene, and if you can grab a good bite while you're there, well its a bonus. I find that The Pour House is a great bonus for pub food at a GREAT price. Pour House

All in all, it was a great weekend- nicely spattered with good food and great company.

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