Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Parkside

I really can't express how disappointed I am in the Parkside. We were so excited when it opened within walking distance of our house but a couple of visits made it pretty apparent that it was not going to be a regular spot for us. The first time I went for lunch I got a dry, uninspired sandwich. Both the turkey and the bread was dried out and the olive spread was bitter. However, it was the first week they served lunch so I gave them a pass. Then tonight we went to dinner and I realized that it was just part of a larger issue.

I ordered the gumbo (which the menu warned had no okra) and received a bowl of soft rice in a thin broth with bits of shredded chicken and tiny wedges of sausage. I thought there was onions but not sure if there were peppers or celery, which is troubling in a gumbo. I had never seen gumbo served all stirred together like that. Normally it is a mixture of seafood, meat and some vegetables served over rice, not a thin soup.

After just a few mushy bites I bit into something hard. Really hard, it felt like a rock and clanked against my teeth. When I told the waitress, a second waitress (because I couldn't find our waitress at first) and then the manager, they all seemed completely unconcerned. The second waitress said she thought it must be a part of the sausage, but I have to say, I have never once found a rock in sausage before. The manager, when finally summonded, didn't even bother to apologize, just asking if I had saved the rock (I had daintily spit it out into a spoon and returned the whole mess to the "gumbo") and took it away. Our waitress finally did take it off the bill but still...rocks in mediocre soup? No concern from the staff? Not what I would expect from a new local business trying to stay afloat.

Matt didn't fare much better-his "Tuscan chicken" open-faced sandwich could be charitably described as a homemade french bread pizza (think chicken and peppers with lots of red sauce and covered in cheese served on thick, tasteless bread) and was served with an "antipasto" salad which contained what appeared to be long, flat Asian noodles and a creamy sauce. The sauce on the sandwich tasted like it came from the jar and the the 3 mushrooms we were told about were missing. Matt said the sandwich reminded him of something he would have made as a hungry teenager with leftovers from the fridge.

The food was amateurish at best, the staff apathetic and the menu is rather overpriced for what you get. I just didn't get the impression that the chef or the staff was very interested in or familiar with food which, for a restaurant, is pretty shocking. Perhaps the Parkside should refocus what they want to be a kiddy destination? a bar? a sandwich shop? a bakery? a market? a full service restaurant? because it is pretty clear they can't handle doing it all. I love to support local businesses and I love our neighborhood but it is just not good. If you go there, I would recommend just sticking to drinks or the risotto cake which was bland, but not bad. The fact that the food was awful was bad enough but the fact that they didn't seem to care at all was worse.

We are going to be taking all of our business to the delightful Hamilton Tavern further down Harford Rd where the food, staff and drink have all been top notch no matter when we've been there.


Shannon said...

I just got done having brunch at the new Parkside on Harford Road, and I have to say I was really disappointed. We all had undercooked home fries, bits of uncooked hard potato. The Monte Cristo was rubbery as if they made it earlier and decided to reheat it. Turkey bacon was more like turkey jerky. Eggs in a hole, had burned toast. They were out of sausage and scrapple, which isn't good as the menu is quite limited to begin with. Hopefully they will get it together, or this place will not survive long!

Sue J said...

Wow -- this is pretty bad news. I always give a new restaurant the benefit of the doubt if they struggle with the food, but to hear that they don't seem to care about their customers' experience -- that is very worrisome.

I haven't been there yet because it's too far to walk and the parking seemed like a hassle. Of course, I'd drive anywhere for a great meal and great staff. But I'm not hearing that.

Has anyone had a good experience at the Parkside?

Sue J said...

I'm answering my own question here, but I found some other comments about The Parkside over at Chowhound. It's still a pretty mixed bag, and it sounds to me like they need to become more consistent if they want to stay in business.

Click here to read what other people are saying.

david.m. said...

I had a very opposite experience there with my family. Although I will admit they are working out the kinks, the staff was terrific and the food was enjoyable. I'm interested to see how the market place pans out.
Some of the staff and owners are Red Canoe originals.

Sue J said...

That's good to hear, David!

Anonymous said...

i've been there several times and the way i describe it to folks is.... "parkside's a great place to drink, but not to eat."

i've eaten there a couple of times. the best item on the menu is the flatbread pizza, but frankly for $8.00 i could just make it at home.

beer selection is great and bar staff is fantastic. ryan is friendly and welcoming.

i do hope they get it together, but yes, i'd agree that their chefs are total amateurs.

Rob said...

My friends and I usually go there for drinks. It's probably my favorite bar in the area right now because the bar is huge, they have an excellent beer list, and the staff has always been great to us.

As for the food, I wouldn't say the current menu is bad but it's not up to par with some of the other resturants in the area. I hear the menu is changing this Thursday 1/8/09 though.

Anonymous said...

Please give the Parkside and all others a fair shake. It's hard to be new. My experiences have been very favorable. The last thing we need to do is give harsh critiques that will cripple a business before it has a chance to grow roots. What courage it takes to open a business these days! When a business closes, especially in today's economy, we will be left with another empty building. The only new business we will attract is stuff we don't want and can't use! Give 'em another chance.