- Tom Beal / Arizona Daily Star
- Apr 4, 2012
Tom Beal continues his search for fine food and brew in Tucson, this time landing at the fairly new Parish, at 6453 N. Oracle Road. Here's a snippet of what he discovered; for the full review, see Thursday's Caliente section.
The Parish, which calls itself a “Southern fusion gastropub,” partially fills a gaping hole in the Tucson food scene left by the closure in recent years of the French Quarter and Nonie.
Cajun/Creole food is back in town, though the menu at the Parish does not cover the full gamut of bayou dishes and offers up a few surprises you won’t find in Louisiana.
The menu is deliberately small, said co-owner Steve Dunn.
“We had a small space to work with and we wanted to do only what we do well,” Dunn said.
Done well: gumbo, Po’ Boy sandwiches and bread pudding.
Not done at all: jambalaya, red beans and rice, étouffée.
Surprises: bacon popcorn and crawfish hush puppies big as billiard balls.
On a recent visit to The Parish, I brought along my wife, Ginny, a daughter of the South and a maker of killer hush puppies.
So we ordered the crawfish hush puppies to put the place to the test. They were served on a bed of red cabbage with remoulade and a honey/green onion sauce for dipping.
There were five of them. They were fried to a deep brown. They were good. They were huge. In a model of the solar system, they would be Jupiters. I was tempted to take them into the parking lot and play a game of bocce.
Instead, we ate them as if they were appetizers and not mutants. OK, I ate three and Ginny had one and a half.
Which makes it necessary to adopt some rules for dining at gastropubs.
Rule No. 1: Don’t order “appetizers,” “noshes” or “dishes to share” unless you have a full posse or an adolescent boy in tow.
Rule No. 2: Put down that second hush puppy or pretzel bit or whatever. Proceed directly to the salad course or just order another microbrew and pretend you’re in a bar eating snacks.
The whole idea, after all, is that a gastropub is a place to get a good beer (or glass of wine or specialty cocktail) and a bite to eat that’s a few rungs up the gastronomic ladder from traditional bar food.
Dunn and his partners at The Parish embrace that simple concept.
Both the food and beer menus are not overwhelming. Beer comes in 20 bottled varieties and eight taps.
You can have beers and nosh. You can order one of the two imaginative salads with a glass of wine. You can get a bowl of gumbo and an Abita amber and pretend you’re in New Orleans. You can order a “bun hugger,” including the shrimp or oyster po’ boy.
Just don’t try to do it all.
Learn from my mistakes.