Here’s another lesson in, “It pays to ask.” Had I bothered to ask what was going on with The Parish at 231 NW 11th, I would have found out about yet another yummy brunch, this one in the Pearl District, with no lines.
So I’ll happily save you the trouble of finding this place, where three of us had a fine and leisurely brunch of Cajun and “European-inspired Creole” food on a recent Sunday at 11.
The Parish is owned by the same guys as EaT: An Oyster Bar on N Williams. I guess they decided that one New Orleans-style place in a hip neighborhood wasn’t enough, so they set up shop in the Pearl. I was hitting one of them up for gift certificates to EaT – for an exciting project, soon to be announced – and he said let’s do it for The Parish. That’s when an all-too-frequent, embarrassing conversation took place:
- Breakfast Guy: “Oh, you do brunch over there?”
- Owner: “Yep.”
- Breakfast Guy: “When did you start that?”
- Owner: “A year and a half ago.”
- Breakfast Guy: “Oh.”
I guess my mind can only process so much, but in my defense, The Parish seems to be flying under much of the foodie radar, as well. I guess we’ve reached a point where it takes something more than an attractive restaurant in a perfect location, with good food and a jazz trio at brunch, to get much attention.
So, The Parish isn’t in my forthcoming new edition, but EaT is, and you should go eat at both — in particular this week, as it’s Mardi Gras and they have some cool stuff planned for Tuesday.
The Parish is a simply decorated, well-lit place with plenty of wood and some old-fashioned touches like preserve jars for water, mis-matched chair, and a church pew to wait on. Not that you’ll be waiting for brunch, though.
The menu (you have to click on Brunch) is similar to EaT, with plenty of local fresh oysters, much of it straight up my alley. I saw shrimp and grits with spicy creole and could have stopped right there, but in this case it doesn’t pay to ask more, because I kept reading the menu and ran into Braised Rabbit Hash and Hang-Town Fry and Dungeness Crab Cake and Eggs Hussarde. What is Eggs Hussarde, you wonder? That would be a country ham Benedict on a biscuit with marchand du vin sauce and hollandaise. Dang! Why more places in Portland don’t serve salty, smoked country ham from the South is beyond me. Oh, and marchand du vin sauce is described on Wiktionary as “a rich, buttery sauce made with red wine, meat stock, onions and other ingredients.” Any more questions?
Not feeling quite up to a Benedict, I was leaning towards shrimp and grits. But when one of my friends asked how spicy the Creole sauce is, the waiter said it was pretty spicy, then added “We’ve been cooking it for days.” Say no more, good sir; I’ll have the shrimp and grits. I shall return for your country ham.
Honestly, I didn’t think it was spicy at all, but it was damn good. Actually, the spiciest thing we saw was the cajun slaw on this softshell crab sandwich?
Another friend got the simple scrambled eggs with local rabbit sausage, biscuit, and Creole gravy. Now that I look at this picture, it doesn’t show too well, but he said it was excellent after he hoovered it down.
At first pass, we thought the portions were a little small, especially because breakfast plates average $13, but as we sat there and did some people-watching, jazz-listening, and travel-dreaming, we noticed that we were just fine. As Kerry said, “I wanted more, but I probably shouldn’t have had more.” I had to agree. The Breakfast Crew and I used to say we were going to start a restaurant whose motto would be, “Breakfast shouldn’t hurt.”
We did have one complaint, though: They were out of Beignets! How a New Orleans place lets this happen, I don’t know. It was the only negative of the experience.
So I’m sorry that The Parish isn’t in the book – yet. EaT is, however. And I recommend both places. If you’re looking for a Sunday brunch in the Pearl with sunshine, good New Orleans food, music and portions that don’t hurt, now you don’t have to ask where it is.
The Parish is at NW 11th and Davis and online at TheParishPDX.com. They serve brunch Sunday from 10 to 3, with raw oysters, ($15 a half dozen, $28 a dozen), several starters, six cocktails, nine breakfasts, and eight lunches. Average price of breakfast with coffee and tip is $14-18.