We had lunch last week at Parker's on Ponce in Decatur. Impressions? Well, I have to divide that into three parts.
Let’s start with the best, appearance and staff. Parker’s has a lovely outdoor patio in front and a welcoming low key interior. Tables are covered in crisp white linen and are comfortable and well spaced apart. We were warmly greeted at the door by a smiling hostess and seated promptly.
Service. Our server was very nice (like everyone we met there) but clearly disorganized and perhaps over whelmed as we noticed only two other staff for a half full dining room and patio. There wasn’t a manager in sight.
Service was also quite slow and I am guessing it was a combination of short staff and perhaps a kitchen not quite as ready as it should have been. It took twenty minutes to get two cups of decaf coffee----the coffee had not been brewed yet---and three requests before water appeared. Our order was collected after fifteen minutes at the table and took another thirty minutes before we were served.
During our wait for the food a manager did show up and promptly seated himself for a time at a table next to us. I can only say that the gentleman could use a shave and a haircut or else perhaps some effort to make his waist length pony tail a bit tidier (for a person handling and working around food he looked unkempt).
The food. We were three and wanted to taste everything, the menu was so appealing. We did end up ordering a lot so we could share and taste each other’s plates. Portions are generous.
• "Irish" onion soup with Guinness and cheddar crouton. After wading through lots of wonderfully gooey cheese and a nice thick crouton I found the soup underneath greasy and missing on the rich flavor I was expecting from long simmered onions and stock. Onion soup should have a lovely sweetness but this one was almost bitter. Unfortunately, it was also served along with everything else and I had a cold entrée by the time I finished my soup.
• Grilled flat-iron steak sandwich on ciabatta bread with onion jam, melted gruyère cheese, Bibb lettuce and tomato-garlic mayonnaise. Heaven! The steak was perfectly tender, rich and delicious. The combination of onion jam, gruyere and kicked up mayo was wonderful. I could easily eat that again and again.
• Slider combination plates with crab cake remoulade, prime rib, fried oyster, White Oak Pastures burger and barbequed pork with coleslaw. Every one of these---except the oyster---was a rich delicious mouthful. Our favorite was the prime rib…as tender, juicy and flavorful as any I have ever tasted.
• The oyster slider was another story. It had a horrible metallic taste. Just a bite had me spitting into my napkin. (Sorry). I am very uneasy when a restaurant of this purported quality serves bad seafood. It literally and figuratively left a terrible taste in my mouth.
• Potatoes at Parker’s rock. Garlic mash and hash browns were nearly perfect with one miss... they were not hot and barely at room temp. (Something I expect goes to short handed staff leaving cooked food sitting in the kitchen. That impression was reinforced later when we noticed the Chef serving food).
• Creamed corn was rich with fresh corn flavor and lots of corn but it suffered from a gritty texture we couldn’t figure out. Maybe cornmeal that wasn’t pre-soaked or cooked enough?
• We took black bean and cannellini bean hummus to go. It comes with olives, feta cheese, pepperoncini peppers & tomatoes, and was perfect with our at-home-before-dinner-wine. It’s an unexpected combination that really works.
All in all Parker’s on Ponce reminds me of a poem my Mother used to recite (called The Little Girl with the Curl and she was usually referring to me). “When she’s good she is very, very good; but when she’s bad she is horrid.
I would love to go back and find it running on all burners with stepped up managers directing the show. Parker's on Ponce could be great.