At the recommendation of a fellow Chowhound, my husband and I had lunch at the Parish Cafe, located at 361 Boylston Street in Boston. Their description of a lunch spot that is "hip and comfortable" with "top notch sandwiches" was dead on.
With 80's and 90's rock playing in the background, the restaurant was packed for lunch with a diverse crowd of business people, college students, and soccer moms with their kids. Scoring a table in the front window, it was the perfect spot to people-watch, though our attention was quickly diverted to the fresh brewed iced tea and Vegetable Potstickers ($8.95) that soon arrived at the table. Filled with carrots and cabbage, these vegetarian dumplings were served with two sauces: an Asian soy ginger dipping sauce, and a thicker, mayonnaise-based, spicy remoulade. The plastic containers used to serve the sauces were an odd choice, though it didn't take away from our enjoyment.
I used both sauces, first spreading the dumplings with the remoulade sauce, then dipping them into the soy ginger, making sure to scoop up a scallion for added flavor. The wrappers were perfect (not too thick); the dumplings were more flavorful than most I've had, likely a result of sauteing them in a bit of sesame oil rather than steaming. The side of sticky rice made this appetizer filling enough for a lunch entree.
Each sandwich on the menu is created for Parish Cafe by a well known Boston Area chef. I selected the SDLT ($10.95), a spice rubbed, smoked duck breast sandwich served on caraway rye bread with lettuce, tomato, red onion and caper mayonnaise. With a choice of cole slaw or potato salad, I selected the latter. Excellent quality bread was thickly sliced, lightly toasted and filled with a generous portion of sliced duck breast. The combination of the rye bread, red onion, caper mayo and duck was an explosion of intense flavors in my mouth. The red bliss potato salad held a perfect amount of heavy mayonnaise, parsley salt and pepper.
My husband's Black-Peppered Tuna ($14.25) was an entree, as opposed to a sandwich. Grilled and served rare, the steak was edged with crushed black pepper and drizzled with a soy-teriyaki glaze. The side of curried vegetable risotto cake held bits of red pepper and scallion; the thick asparagus was marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil, then grilled. Immensely flavorful, it could only have been improved had the chef used an asparagus peeler on the chewy stalks.
If I lived or worked in the vicinity of the Parish Cafe, I suspect I'd be a regular. The specialty martinis, cocktails and interesting appetizer list would make it a fun after-work spot. It's also a perfect spot to grab lunch when I visit Boston, as I routinely do, particularly given its proximity to Newbury Street.