My boyfriend gifted me (many months ago) with a dinner out- my choice- but I defaulted to brunch instead (due mostly to the busyness of our schedules, which is clearly an issue since it took me this long to cash in). Parc seemed the most obvious option, and we incidentally chose one of the most beautiful mornings to enjoy the open-air dining. We made reservations, which excluded us from the sidewalk seating (first come, first served only), but the hostess exclaimed, "I have a great table for you!" as she led us to a spot right inside the giant open windows. Perfect for people watching, I noticed the eclectic mix of our fellow diners- women with giant shopping bags and bright pink tracksuits, couples with their dogs, and even a guy wearing a t-shirt and swim trunks. Parc has a classy feel, but during brunch is as casual as it gets.
I started my morning with a cappuccino ($4.50), an artfully created delicious mix of cream and caffeine. I honestly felt I could sit and sip this while continuing my
Our waitress was great; cheerful, helpful, and always there right when we needed her (service is something of which I find most Starr restaurants continuously excel). Just a minute or two after taking our order, a bread basket arrived. Since we had ordered the Breakfast Pastries basket, we were a little confused, but each grabbed a small piece to tide us over until our food arrived... which was literally 60 seconds later, at the arrival of said Breakfast Pastries ($10). We now awkwardly had two bread baskets on the table, one of which was completely unnecessary. The regular bread basket is generous and delicious- three types of house-baked bread, including one of the best baguettes in the city. I often walk by Parc wondering if any of the diners would mind if I scooped their bread leftovers. Unfortunately, this morning, it was superfluous.
While contemplating which breakfast pastry to attack first, our entrees arrived. Having no idea how the order was brought to the kitchen, the food was prepared and plated, and then delivered from kitchen to table so quickly, I wasn't sure whether to be blown-away impressed, or a bit irked. My biggest restaurant pet peeve is being rushed, and with our small table literally filled to the brim with food in less than ten minutes after sitting down, I felt a tad overwhelmed. Nonetheless, it all looked delicious, so we dove in as best we could. If you order one item at Parc during brunch, it really should be the pastry basket. The menu described it as a collection of "croissant, pain au chocolat, apple turnover, blueberry muffin, and pumpkin spiced bread" but I believe it was a bit outdated. Instead, we received the croissant, the pain au chocolat, and the muffin, but instead of the turnover and pumpkin bread, received a golden raisin scone and an iced lemon poppy bread.
It's a lot of pastries, but split them among two or more and it's very manageable- and you get a taste of so many items. The scone was by far my favorite, a dense, sweet, crumbly creation (and I'm not even a fan of raisins!). The blueberry muffin is a staple, and is always perfectly light and fluffy with a crunchy streusel topping. The lemon loaf provided two tiny slices of moist, lemony goodness. We then saved the croissant and the chocolate-filled pastry as we tackled our entrees.
The bf was eyeing the buttermilk pancakes, but after convincing him we needed the pastries, he went with the Two Egg breakfast, which is Parc's take on the classic diner meal. Creamy scrambled eggs with bits of herbs, a heap of perfectly cooked chunky breakfast potatoes, thick slices of Nueske bacon, and a fat piece of buttery brioche toast ($12)-- if I had to eat this meal anywhere, I think I'd want it at Parc. I won't lie, I definitely had a twinge of food envy.
Don't worry, my own food was even better (in my opinion)- the Smoked Salmon Tartine ($12). I admittedly have a smoked salmon addiction, and have a hard time going through any brunch without it. This open faced sandwich was a perfect transition from the breakfast-y coffee and pastries to the more time-appropriate lunch. I thankfully was able to use this dish as an excuse to eat that famous baguette, sliced open and topped with horseradish creme fraiche, smooth, fatty salmon, capers, thinly sliced red onion, and sprigs of dill.
The accompanying side salad fulfilled my constant need for fresh vegetables, crisp greens dressed in a very light shallot-y vinaigrette. I slowly worked my way through the meal, savoring each bite and just enjoying the experience, the food, the sunny day, and of course the company.
We finished our meal by splitting the final two pastries, the croissant (smeared with a tad of the seedy raspberry jam) and the pain au chocolat (a great dipper into the remnants of my cappuccino). As we left, simply walking out through the open windows onto the sidewalk, I felt completely satisfied with both my restaurant AND meal choice. I find brunch, especially those of the slow, luxurious variety shared with those you love the most, to make everything right in the world.
227 S. 18th Street