This children's lounge separates the Parkside's bar and dining room from an area in the back that sells homemade breads, pastries, deli salads, and the specialty smoked fish and meats that are the Parkside's pride. There are crafts for sale, too, and the area looks a little forlorn. I don't know that it's working. There's certainly plenty of room, but it's something of an energy suck. (As is, the dining room up front is too big.) The back area needs another look, and I think the owners will get around to it. I say this with some confidence because our visits to the Parkside came just before an overhaul of the dinner menu. Some of the dishes remain, but co-owner Chris Cashell said the new menu, likely available now, is more cohesive.
The smoked trout appetizer is a keeper. Served with toast points, caramelized onions and creme fraiche, the trout is luscious and arousing. A companion platter, composed of homemade pates and mousses, caught our eye, too. Lunch is fine here all around, with a good selection of sandwiches and little bites, much of which shows off Parkside's in-house smoking and roasting skills and attention to detail. We were very happy with the smoked turkey club; a roast beef sandwich with herbed horseradish Boursin and roasted shallots; and a goat-cheese-stuffed risotto cake served with sun-dried tomato preserves and mesclun. I was impressed with the choice of seasonal salads - slaw and potato salad, of course, but barley and quinoa salads, too. The house salad included roasted acorn squash, golden beets and homemade croutons. Adding smoked salmon to it made for a good afternoon meal.
We also enjoyed dinner at the bar, which Cashell was proudly manning. The batter-dipped chicken we ate was not destined for the new menu, but it showed off the kitchen's skills. A roast chicken was due in its place. A maple-glazed salmon was cooked well but wasn't flavorful enough.
I got a sneak peek at the new menu; it has a bacalao, or salt cod, appetizer on it. That's enough to get me back in the door.
the parkside fine food & spiritsAddress: 4709 Harford Road
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-12 a.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. Sundays
Credit cards: American Express, Visa, MasterCard
Ambience: ** 1/2
on the menu•Smoked trout platter: $11
•Frenchman's platter (Homemade pates served with sun-dried fruit, olives and pepper crisps): $11
•House salad: $6; with smoked salmon, $10
•Risotto cake: $6.50
•Roast beef sandwich: $8.95
•Smoked turkey club: $9.25
•Baltimore coddies: $13
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