The Parish is one of the latest additions to Downtown’s already white-hot dining scene. Rising star chef Casey Lane first made a name for himself in SoCal at the Tasting Kitchen in Venice. But unlike the Tasting Kitchen, The Parish doesn’t feel pretentious and vastly overpriced. Instead, this laid-back, two-story English-inspired gastropub is perfectly calibrated for its still-gentrifying ‘hood. To get a good feel for the place, sit on the upstairs patio beneath a lovely shade tree, order a couple rounds of deviled eggs and fried olives and a strong cocktail and watch a steady parade of hobos push their noisy shopping carts down the middle of the streets as cop cars frequently whiz past with sirens blaring. It’s all part of the Downtown charm, complete with valet parking (in case you didn’t just walk over from your groovy nearby loft).
Llike so many of the best new restaurants downtown, cocktails are given equal billing to the food. Is it a bar? Is it a pub? Is it a restaurant? The lines are seamlessly blurred inside this oasis of urban cool set to an eclectic rock-n-roll soundtrack. The ground floor contains a bakery case, the kitchen and a small overflow dining area. The main dining room and bar are on the second floor. Be careful as you ascend the dimly lit staircase—this is the same route used by the wait staff to deliver food and plates back and forth from the kitchen. The dining room oozes an Old-World vernacular of the sort—antique side tables, plus a building with great bones—that’s incredibly difficult to achieve in a city that doesn’t actually date that far back.
Everyone seems to be talking about the poutine. Poutine, for the uninitiated, is essentially a Canadian specialty that consists of French fries covered in slop. It’s normally a good way to ruin a great fry, or a great way to salvage a bad one. But here, it’s is the best of both worlds: terrific homemade fries topped with delicious pig trotter ragú. (The toppings tend to change.) And while we’re on the topic of fried food, the buttermilk fried chicken is fantastic—a strange composition of pieces of golden fried chicken on a plate, sprinkled with fried herbs and surrounded by a smattering of tomatoes. You’ll need to order something else to go with it, perhaps some grilled corn with honeycomb butter. And as long as you’re being decadent, you should definitely consider the marrowbone—one of the best of its genre.
The English inspiration is sometimes rather hard to detect. And, really, that’s perhaps the only real pretension here. So let’s just call it what it is: a solid American gastropub that borrowed a couple of ideas from the British, the best of which is the sticky toffee pudding.
Sit here: The upstairs patio is much better and far more intimate than the downstairs patio. The upstairs dining room can become extremely loud.
Drink this: The Parish stole one of the best bartenders from the popular Seven Grand, who has created an impressive cocktail list. We like the Black Bee ($12) made with bourbon, lemon, honey and stout beer.
When to go: This neighborhood is filled with galleries that participate in the monthly Downtown Artwalk, the second Thursday night of every month.
Conversation piece: The Parish is the perfect pre or post hangout for the gorgeous Orpheum Theatre where there’s always something interesting going on.