Friday, March 18, 2011

Tipsy Parson and Little Giant Reviews

The Tipsy Parson is serving food that seems to be quite commonplace these days — biscuits, mac and cheese, pulled pork for example — but unfortunately it's not doing it all that well, based on a recent brunch visit. I knew it had received some mixed reviews, but some friends had had a good experience recently and so my dining companion and I had decided to give it a chance.

The buttermilk chive biscuit was large but not particularly buttery or soft and the honey butter wasn't noteworthy.

The catfish po' boy was a large fillet of spice-rubbed catfish, which was surprisingly not fried as po' boys traditionally are. I actually liked the fish, but as we overheard a neighboring table describe it, this made it more of a "faux boy." It also could have used a little less of the meyer lemon aioli.

The Pig in a Poke was a large ramekin filled with stone-ground grits and poached eggs topped with andouille sausage. If you like the smoked, spicy flavor of andouille sausage, this is a simple, nicely presented dish.

The mac and cheese was just okay. The noodles were good and chewy, but it was too creamy overall. I like my mac and cheese crustier and cheesier. 
The service was kind of surly and the place was noisy. If it's Southern food you want, you can surely find better than this with the proliferation of similar eateries all around the city.

A few days later I found myself on the Lower East Side being turned away from my chosen dinner place — Cocoron, a soba noodle place — because they had run out of noodles. My bad luck. It was late and I was hungry and it was a Monday night, when many spots are closed. Little Giant was around the corner. I had been once for a brunch that wasn't memorable, but most places deserve a dinnertime chance as well. It wasn't until we sat down with the menus that I had a vague memory of reading that the Tipsy Parson had been opened by the owners of Little Giant. And the list of similar side dishes, which included the buttermilk chive biscuit confirmed it.

A cauliflower and mushroom salad topped by a poached egg sprinkled with bread crumbs was served in a cast iron pan with crusty toast. Not quite a salad, but a good warm starter with a nice char on the vegetables.

The spaghetti with crab, cabbage and toasted pine nuts was bland. The crab wasn't sweet and the dish overall had the starchy flavor of the pasta, indicating a severe lack of seasoning.

The pozole, a pork stew mixed with sliced tortilla, corn and other vegetables, wasn't bad, though it might have worked better with some rice or bread to soak up the liquid.

The black pepper panna cotta with caramelized grapefruit wasn't anything special. The grapefruit was extremely tart, but the custard, which had little pepper flavor that I could detect, offset that.

In the end everything seemed too expensive for what it was (appetizers were in the $10-$13 and entrees were $20-$25). While I appreciate the menu's attempts to construct some interesting dishes, I wish the kitchen was able to pull them off more strongly.

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