840 S Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Dining date: 10/5/12
The Parish is downtown’s newest gastropub (dubbed a modern English gastropub), opened a couple of months ago at the intersection of Spring and Main streets. The chef is Casey Lane, who made a name for himself at The Tasting Kitchen in Venice. The Tasting Kitchen is a place I’ve wanted to try for some time but never made the cross-town trek; given The Parish’s downtown location, it was only a matter of time until I’d find myself here.
The constantly-changing menu features an array of intriguing selections including a couple of poutine options (fried oyster, pigs feet, crispy pork shoulder), fried frog legs, and a couple of pot pies (pork head, mushroom). However, I’ve heard early mixed reviews about The Parish, which was partially why it took so long.
POUTINE OF FRIED OYSTERS spicy gribiche
I found the oysters to be rather large, plump juicy morsels, delicious with a rich but slightly acidic gravy. Like the fries though, I found the batter to be a bit soggy – I don’t know if these sat at the pass for some time, but I wanted more texture. All the flavors were here and on point, though.
POUTINE OF CRISPY PORK SHOULDER paneer & mint
Similar to the other poutine, I found this one to be on the soggy side too. Neither the fries nor the pork were as crispy as advertised. However, I thought the flavors were tasty, with the pork having a strong smokiness and mint providing some interesting depth.
BEETS, MACHE, & HERBS ancient grain granola, molasses yogurt
For something on the lighter side, the simple beets dish offered a balance of sweet and tart, with some texture from a housemade granola.
CLAMS salumi picante, sherry & leeks
Our table had mixed feelings on this dish. I thought the sausage-fennel-leeks flavor provided a pretty good balance, but others thought there were too many things going on here. Crusty, charred bread was an ideal way to soak up the broth.
FRIED CHICKEN brussels sprouts, date vinaigrette
I found both the light and dark meat to be pretty moist, something that seems to be a rare accomplishment. I really liked the batter too, being both light and crunchy with a good ratio of batter-to-chicken. Brussels sprouts and the date vinaigrette provided some acidity to counter the richness; the sweetness of the dates worked well with the chicken too.
FISH AND CHIPS
I thought this was one of the better versions of fish & chips that I’ve had in some time (though also one of the more expensive at $20). Flaky moist fish was smothered in a light batter – simple and well-executed. A cornichon gelee was an interesting way to bring a tart acidity to the mix.
Three desserts were available; we sampled one of each.
STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING
I thought this was a solid rendition of a sticky toffee pudding with all the familiar flavors. A moist cake was doused in a rich toffee sauce, topped with a light whipped cream.
This was the lightest of the three desserts featuring an interplay of tart and sweet between the fresh hucklberries, creme fraiche and whipped cream.
The table was unanimously disappointed with this one. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a gulab jamun before (so this could be an excellent example of one), but it really wasn’t what I expected. The fried dough was kind of soggy and mushy, sitting in a sweet, fruity syrup. Not sure how this one fit into the English gastropub theme.
While I’m pretty tired of the LA gastropub movement, I think The Parish is one of the better ones. The restaurant presented a couple of very good dishes and a few that were almost there. I really thought the poutines, particularly the fried oyster one, could’ve been excellent if not so soggy. The cocktails were very good, with my favorite being the Nightshift, a mix of bourbon, Czech Fernet, espresso, pu-erh tea, chocolate syrup and milk; an odd combination of flavors but delicious. If there was one major drawback though, it was that service was frustratingly slow and somewhat error-prone, particularly with our drinks.