April 4th, 2010

Parson’s Table, Winchester

Parson’s Table used to be Catch, a small, upscale restaurant specializing in seafood. It was generally well regarded, but I think the price point with the location (Winchester Center) was not a great match. Chris Parsons, chef-owner, revamped it with an emphasis on affordable comfort foods. I was a fan of Catch, so I suggested we try Parson’s Table for our annual Easter outing.


Our large group of nine ordered an array of appetizers including mussels in saffron chorizo broth, grilled flatbread with smoked chicken and grilled clams. I enjoyed the mussels; I thought the broth had great flavor and the mussels were plump and tender. The flatbread was also delicious. The clams were fine, but small and only half a dozen to an order.  

My rainbow trout was delicious; it had a nice crispy skin and delicious mustard sauce. I would have liked a green vegetable instead of the two small cippolini onions and fingerling potatoes. R had the burger and it was cooked correctly and it came with homemade pickles that were too salty and shatteringly thin chips that weren’t salty enough. We had creamed spinach and overcooked mac and cheese for sides. I liked the nuggets of thick bacon in the spinach, but it was not enough to save the dish from the wateriness. I also sampled the fettuccini with smoked chicken and thought it was quite tasty. I believe it used to be on the Catch menu.


Dessert offerings were sad: Espresso affogato (I would be up all night), cinnamon rice pudding (my least favorite dessert), blackberry sorbet (as R says, “it’s a palate cleanser, not a dessert) and chocolate fondue.


We went with 3 chocolate fondues, which was an epic mistake. The chocolate itself was not very rich, nor flavorful, even though it was touted as Taza chocolate. There was a nice assortment of blackberries, raspberries and strawberries, but the pound cake was awful. It was so dry, the cubes of cake crumbled when you speared them. It was like eating slightly sweetened sawdust. What where they thinking, sending that out to paying customers? Entenmann's would have been a better alternative. Parson’s Table: find yourself a pastry chef, do it NOW.


Our service was awful. I understand, buddy, we are a pain in the ass, a table of nine on a holiday weekend, and you get your 18% regardless, but how about a smile and a wine refill? I did enjoy the small rolls in the bread basket. They had a nice crust. I believe the bread is from Mamadou’s, a bakery in Winchester.


As I was leaving the restaurant, my thoughts were fairly negative, with dessert and the poor service fresh in my mind. But as I was thinking about the whole meal for the flog, I realized there were definite high points (mussels, trout) and that maybe I should not write off Parson’s Table completely. However, with so many restaurants (still 17 to go on my 2010 list!) and so little time, I doubt I will be back.