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Dining Out: Parlour offered spacious ambience, spot-on sandwiches, uneven mains

We arrived with high expectations for our food thanks to two previous meals there last month, and we weren’t disappointed.

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Parlour
1319 Wellington St. W., 613-761-1302, parlourplace.ca
Open: Tuesday and Wednesday, 5 to 10 p.m., Thursday to Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., closed Sunday and Monday
Prices: most mains $30 and up, sandwiches and burgers $16 to $18
Access: steps between front door and dining room, but staff can deploy a portable ramp; wheelchair-accessible washroom on main level

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When the weather was abnormally warm late last week, we indulged in what was likely our final restaurant patio lunch of 2022. But we were attracted to Parlour on Wellington Street West by more than just al fresco dining.

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We arrived with high expectations for our food thanks to two previous meals there last month, and we weren’t disappointed.

The Friday special of fish and chips ($29) consisted of impeccable fried beer-battered cod and fries, plus tartar sauce and curry mayo for rich flavour boosts.

Beer-battered cod and chips at Parlour on Wellington Street West
Beer-battered cod and chips at Parlour on Wellington Street West jpg

Squash soup ($12) was autumnal, locally sourced and distinctly peppery. Brisket sandwich ($18 with salad or fries) impressed with its smokey, tender meat that surpassed the brisket samples I’ve tasted at serious barbecue competitions. Chef Mike Beck had tamed that tricky cut of beef, I was told by smoking it four hours and then braising it for even longer.

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Squash soup at Parlour on Wellington Street West
Squash soup at Parlour on Wellington Street West Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia
Brisket sandwich with fries and salad at Parlour on Wellington Street West
Brisket sandwich with fries and salad at Parlour on Wellington Street West Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia

We last ate on Parlour’s patio in August 2020, back when we could count our months of pandemic living on one hand and when dining rooms were closed. I was lured to revisit Parlour this fall to try its dining room and sample from its menu, which, while still concise, had grown to include heftier, fancier mains.

We first checked out Parlour’s interior during a lunch visit. In addition to being a restaurant, the venue is a two-room event space of almost 4,000 square feet. The layout here is extremely spacious, with tables that seat no more than 90 people very much spread out, as if privacy and physical distancing between bubbled parties were not aspects of a bygone era. The decor leans into mid-century and Scandinavian furnishings with combinations of varying tables and chairs creating an eclectic yet stripped-down vibe.

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While we admired our surroundings, we made a serving of house-made chips with chive dip ($8) quickly disappear. Then, we verified that Parlour still makes a first-rate fried chicken sandwich ($18 with salad or fries). Clam chowder ($16) was properly creamy and also seemingly brimming with more matane shrimp and bay scallops than clams. My hungry friend devoured the solidly made short ribs ($39) and commented on the quality of its red wine jus.

Chips and dip at Parlour on Wellington Street West
Chips and dip at Parlour on Wellington Street West Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia
Chicken sandwich at Parlour on Wellington Street West
Chicken sandwich at Parlour on Wellington Street West Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia
Clam chowder at Parlour on Wellington Street West
Clam chowder at Parlour on Wellington Street West Photo by Peter Hum /jpg
Short ribs at Parlour on Wellington Street West
Short ribs at Parlour on Wellington Street West Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia

Before leaving, we tried two desserts. The pear pie ($12) was pretty and tasty, but might have been better still had it been a hot contrast to its dollop of ice cream. We had no quibbles about the bread pudding ($13).

Pear pie at Parlour on Wellington Street West
Pear pie at Parlour on Wellington Street West Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia
Bread pudding at Parlour on Wellington Street West
Bread pudding at Parlour on Wellington Street West Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia

At a dinner visit, when retro and contemporary R’n’B played over the sound system, we went a little deeper into Parlour’s seven-drink cocktail list and main courses.

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Our two cocktails, the gin-based Chantilly Clad ($15) and the rye-and-rum-based French Dispatch ($16), were sophisticated and pleasing  — just as we had expected given that award-winning Ottawa mixologist Quinn Taylor is responsible for them. For wine lovers, the list is extensive and includes trendy, natural bottles. But there are fewer wines available by the glass here than elsewhere.

French Dispatch and Chantilly Clad cocktails at Parlour on Wellington Street West
French Dispatch and Chantilly Clad cocktails at Parlour on Wellington Street West Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia

We started our dinner with two winning appetizers — pristine Newfoundland oysters ($22 for six) and creamy, beet-stained deviled eggs topped with shards of crispy chicken skin ($12).

Oysters at Parlour on Wellington Street West
Oysters at Parlour on Wellington Street West Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia
Deviled eggs with crispy chicken skin at Parlour on Wellington Street West
Deviled eggs with crispy chicken skin at Parlour on Wellington Street West Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia

The better of our mains was a properly cooked piece of pan-seared salmon ($34) that was nestled, along with pickled shiitake, king oyster mushrooms and bok choy, in a miso broth that was enjoyable but also salty enough to make me pause.

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Pan-seared salmon with miso broth and pickled shiitakes at Parlour on Wellington Street West
Pan-seared salmon with miso broth and pickled shiitakes at Parlour on Wellington Street West Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia

My gripe with the cassoulet ($36), was not simply how much it departed from and simplified the soulful French stew of assorted meats and white beans. Parlour’s single-serving rendition, made with confit chicken leg rather than the usual duck, lacked seasoning and its Toulouse sausage was overcooked.

Cassoulet with confit chicken leg, Toulouse sausage and white beans at Parlour on Wellington Street West
Cassoulet with confit chicken leg, Toulouse sausage and white beans at Parlour on Wellington Street West Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia

Service was almost always attentive and polished during all our visits. There was one letdown at dinner though, when our after-dinner desserts took half an hour to arrive. The rum and spice crème brûlée was alright, although it could have been more rummy. More notably, the affogato of Pascal’s tonka bean ice cream suffered because its accompanying espresso had grown cold.

Rum and spice crème brûlée at Parlour on Wellington Street West
Rum and spice crème brûlée at Parlour on Wellington Street West Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia
Affogato of tonka bean ice cream and espresso at Parlour on Wellington Street West
Affogato of tonka bean ice cream and espresso at Parlour on Wellington Street West Photo by Peter Hum /Postmedia

In all, Parlour pleased more often than not. When there were stumbles, we were prone to question if we were getting our money’s worth, especially since prices here, in particular for main courses, are on the higher side — not that restaurants are immune from rising food costs, supply issues and the like.

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This week, I raised Parlour’s prices with its owner Erin Clatney. She noted that in addition to reflecting inflationary pressures, Parlour’s prices are set where they are because her restaurant pays staff a living wage and gives them benefits.

“Restaurants aren’t raising their prices as much as they should be. I think our prices need to go up a little bit more,” Clatney said.

As realistic and well-intentioned as those assertions are, they’re much harder to swallow that Parlour’s best-made fare.

phum@postmedia.com

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Dining Out: Parlour offered spacious ambience, spot-on sandwiches, uneven mains Source link Dining Out: Parlour offered spacious ambience, spot-on sandwiches, uneven mains

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