Wow. I am proud to be a Southerner. To be a part of the inspiration behind a restaurant like the Tipsy Parson makes me want to amp up my lacking Southern accent and start sipping mint juleps on a regular basis. Hurry to Chelsea - I fear this one has already been discovered. By their second night of dinner service last week, the chefs had already nailed it. Sure, there were a few service glitches that come with the opening of any restaurant, but the setting, the energy, and the food were outstanding. And after learning that these are the folks behind one of my lower east side favorites, the Little Giant, I should not have been surprised. It was one of those nights when it didn't take long for me to realize I had really stumbled upon something great - and looking around, we weren't alone. And, in case you were already thinking it, I'll just confirm any suspicions that The Hungry Roach, one again, has had a face lift. Lucky for me and my viewers, I was able to share and (he was able to) truly capture the entire experience with my good friend Brian of The Blue Hour.
After our meal on Thursday, I could have easily returned for dinner on Friday, brunch on Saturday, or even just dessert on Sunday - and I will most likely do so this weekend. The menu is scattered with all of my favorites - from biscuits and grits to slow roasting pork and crispy kale. The long marble bar that stretches across the entire front room of the restaurant is a great place to enjoy a few snacks and oysters or even a full meal. As we waited for our table, I eyed the country ham on-the-bone and homemade spreads used as condiments for the various bar snacks. We enjoyed homemade cheese straws and figs stuffed with watercress wrapped in maple glazed bacon. I have sampled and made many variations of stuffed figs, but the quality of the bacon and the use of watercress as stuffing were impressive.
I am still in awe over their homemade herb rolls that arrive at the start of the meal as the bread basket. The chefs actually understand what a roll is all about. Almost all rolls I have come across north of the Mason Dixon Line have been pretty frightening. But, when they are good, there is no denying it. At the Tipsy Parson, these are so good they should actually be right on the menu next to the biscuits. I just wish I had saved even a morsel of mine to soak up the bottom of my bowl of roasted parsnip soup with toasted celery and grapes. This excellent autumn starter had the perfect thick consistency, creating an extremely hearty and flavorful soup. I also highly recommend the sauteed crispy kale salad with mushrooms and cornbread croutons. This dish was perfectly balanced by the ingredients and with nearly every bite, I was able to enjoy the light flavoring of the cornbread croutons. One look at the main courses, and there was no resisting the braised pork shank with stoneground grits, apple butter glaze, cracklins, and roasted apples & prunes. The meat fell off the enormous bone and was full of all of the right fall flavors.
While I loved every morsel I put in my mouth, I did spend much of the night eying the other dishes scattered across neighbors' tables. It was hard to have food envy since our dishes were so good, but rather, I was just wishing there was more time and room in my stomach to try more. The whiffs of the homemade apple pie for two (a must order at the start of the meal) and the visions of the signature Tipsy Parson boozy dessert did make it quite clear of all that I was missing out on. However, in my books, no matter what dessert you do order or don't, no Southern meal is complete without caramel. When it's time to pay the check, you will be thanked with deliciously homemade caramels topped with salt. How refreshing. Tipsy Parson and Southern hospitality win again.
156 Ninth Avenue (between 19th and 20th)
New York, NY 10011
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):