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Farm-to-table dining at Parallel Post

I usually never go out to a restaurant on Valentine’s Day. I agree with what many foodies say– on this holiday, most restaurants are overpriced and understaffed. Better to wait and celebrate on another night. But, as I was able to procure a babysitter for the evening, and we’d just spent the past week holed up in the house during the snow storm, I was more than ready to get out.

We made reservations at Trumbull’s newest restaurant, Parallel Post. Housed within the Trumbull Marriott, it’s easy to get scared by the thought of a hotel restaurant. I was highly suspicious until I started reading what people had to say on a Facebook page. The reviews were promising. I went a few weeks ago with a bunch of girlfriends and had a lovely time, but I wanted to go with Mr. EatDrink and take the time to really savor the food.

First off, they did a good job in decorating. It feels like a destination, not just a hotel bar. It’s modern and clean with a good mix of tables, low-backed booths and a bar area. Because it appeals to both hotel guests and outsiders, there’s an interesting vibe going on. Some people dress up. Others come straight from the hotel gym.

Chef Dean James Max has six other restaurants in Ohio, Florida, Texas, and the Cayman Islands. Trumbull seems like an odd addition, but certainly a welcome one.

Here’s the only negative thing I’m going to say. The seating is tough. When I went with friends, there were nine of us and we were seated at a long, farm-style table. It was difficult, nearly impossible, actually, to talk with people on the opposite end. When Mr. EatDrink and I went, we were seated at one of the low-backed booths. The table itself was really wide; we felt miles away from each other and sat on the edge of our seats the whole evening. We contemplated turning it so it would be narrower, but decided not to upset the apple cart.

That’s the bad stuff. Now onto the good and the great. Parallel Post is a farm-to-table restaurant, meaning that they try to use as many local, organic, natural and seasonal ingredients as possible. The regular menu is divided into appetizers, soups, salads, vegetables, sandwiches, “meat without feet,” meat, and sweets. They have  full bar menu with a few creative drinks.

The evening I went with friends, we all shared the sea salt, house-cut french fries with spicy ketchup and Old Bay vinegar($5).  If you’re the type that only eats fries once in a blue moon, these are the ones to go for. They were hot, thin, and crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. For my entree that evening, I had the grilled flat iron steak, roasted fingerling potatoes, winter vegetables and rosemary sauce ($16). The steak was served sliced and was tender. I was concerned that the rosemary sauce might be overpowering (it’s not my favorite herb), but it was just right.

For Valentine’s Day, however, we chose not to order off the regular menu and opted for the special tasting menu instead. There were six courses, all paired with your choice of craft beer or wine ($60 or $80 with drinks). The first course was a raw bar– oysters, clams and shrimp served with cocktail sauce and a mignonette sauce that was so delicious I only wish we had bread to dip in it afterwards. The second course was a potato leek soup with Jonah crab. The silky bisque was creamy and sweet with a good scoopful of crabmeat on top. Next up was a salad of winter lettuce, kumquats, spiced walnuts, 2-year aged cheddar and a mandarin vinaigrette. The taste was so fresh and zesty that it hinted towards the coming of spring.

Seared tilefish with sunchoke, grilled red pears, tatsoi & citron oil was the next course. I’d never had tilefish before. The firm, mild fish had a nice grilled flavor and went well with the bitter greens. The last course before dessert was grilled beef tenderloin with truffle whipped mashed potatoes, yellow oyster mushrooms, spring garlic and a cabernet sauce. This alone was worth it and definitely the best beef I’ve had in a long time. It was buttery and rich and didn’t require any extra seasoning. The potatoes were fluffy and the mushrooms gave a nice contrasting texture. I told the waiter my only regret was that I’d never have this again, but he pointed out that the offer the same tenderloin on their regular menu. At $37, it’s their priciest entree, but well worth it if you’re in the mood for a classic, beefy steak.

Dessert was a Harpoon Chocolate Stout Creme Brulee with Toasted Espresso Beans. The custard was velvety with that signature snappy hard sugar crust. I could’ve done without the espresso beans; I was picking them out like watermelon seeds, but Mr. EatDrink said I was wrong on that. He believed they added a nice, roasty crunch.

I am so excited that Trumbull finally has an upscale, high-quality restaurant. The fact that it’s in a hotel may deter some, which is unfortunate. It’s absolutely worth a try, whether you sit at the bar and have a cheeseburger and a beer or celebrate a special occasion with a Harvest Sangria and short ribs.

Parallel Post

180 Hawley Lane

Trumbull CT