I really can't express how disappointed I am in the Parkside. We were so excited when it opened within walking distance of our house but a couple of visits made it pretty apparent that it was not going to be a regular spot for us. The first time I went for lunch I got a dry, uninspired sandwich. Both the turkey and the bread was dried out and the olive spread was bitter. However, it was the first week they served lunch so I gave them a pass. Then tonight we went to dinner and I realized that it was just part of a larger issue.
I ordered the gumbo (which the menu warned had no okra) and received a bowl of soft rice in a thin broth with bits of shredded chicken and tiny wedges of sausage. I thought there was onions but not sure if there were peppers or celery, which is troubling in a gumbo. I had never seen gumbo served all stirred together like that. Normally it is a mixture of seafood, meat and some vegetables served over rice, not a thin soup.
After just a few mushy bites I bit into something hard. Really hard, it felt like a rock and clanked against my teeth. When I told the waitress, a second waitress (because I couldn't find our waitress at first) and then the manager, they all seemed completely unconcerned. The second waitress said she thought it must be a part of the sausage, but I have to say, I have never once found a rock in sausage before. The manager, when finally summonded, didn't even bother to apologize, just asking if I had saved the rock (I had daintily spit it out into a spoon and returned the whole mess to the "gumbo") and took it away. Our waitress finally did take it off the bill but still...rocks in mediocre soup? No concern from the staff? Not what I would expect from a new local business trying to stay afloat. It wasn't as if I was being rude or demanding, I just quietly pointed out what happened and the manager didn't even bother to make eye contact with me.
Matt didn't fare much better-his "Tuscan chicken" open-faced sandwich could be charitably described as a homemade french bread pizza (think chicken and peppers with lots of red sauce and covered in cheese served on thick, tasteless bread) and was served with an "antipasto" salad which contained what appeared to be long, flat Asian noodles and a creamy sauce. The sauce on the sandwich tasted like it came from the jar and the the 3 mushrooms we were told about were missing. Matt said the sandwich reminded him of something he would have made as a hungry teenager with leftovers from the fridge.
The food was amateurish at best, the staff apathetic and the menu is rather overpriced for what you get. I just didn't get the impression that the chef or the staff was very interested in or familiar with food which, for a restaurant, is pretty shocking. Perhaps the Parkside should refocus what they want to be a kiddy destination? a bar? a sandwich shop? a bakery? a market? a full service restaurant? because it is pretty clear they can't handle doing it all. I think what I was most surprised about was not the appalling food but their total lack of interest or care in their customers.
I love to support local businesses and I love our neighborhood but it is just not good. If you go there, I would recommend just sticking to drinks or the risotto cake which was bland, but not bad.
We are going to be taking all of our business to the delightful Hamilton Tavern where the food, staff and drink have all been top notch no matter when we've been there.