Spectacular Apps and Surprising Flavor Combinations at Parson’s Dinner House| 03.06.22
Why You Should Go: Inspired Culinary Pairings, Unique Appetizers, Great Flavors, Creative Cocktails;
Things You Should Know: Entrees Are Expensive for the Area; Dining Room Is Small; Not Really a Kid Friendly Menu
Parson’s Dinner House restaurant in Barton, Vermont offers an upscale dining experience rare in the NEK. Traditionally, Parson’s has been a breakfast and lunch spot, but after changing hands a few times recently, the new owners have taken the restaurant to the next level.
Inside, the space is still comfortable with a country charm that speaks to the area. There are no pretenses, or décor that makes the restaurant feel out of place in the rolling hills and farm country that surround it.
But being a country restaurant doesn’t mean that amazing food takes a back seat. In fact, the menu showcases bold flavors, inventive ingredient pairings, and technical preparations that all work together to create an experience you’ll be thinking about for days to come.
The Menu at Parson’s Dinner House Restaurant in Barton, VT
The app menu alone is enough to make you reserve your table. We were excited to see all of the different items and preperations. Through Covid, many menus have been cut back and often feature many of the same items as other establishments. That is not the case at Parson’s.
We dined with a friend on our recent visit to Parson’s Restaurant, and that meant we could try just about every app on the menu. Everything was beautifully plated, and I am a sucker for food art! I couldn’t wait to take a bite of each dish.
We started with the bread course – delicious house made corn bread and tortillas were served with both a hummus and a quark cheese topped with fig balsamic jam. This was a fun pairing because it allowed you to try the salty tortillas with either a sweet or savory topping. Then the flavor profiles completely changed with you switched over to the corn bread. The Tahini in the hummus was prominent, but it worked keeping the spread from getting lost by the heavier flavors in the bread and chips.
That set us up for the medley of dishes that proceeded to leave the kitchen.
One of our favorite dishes of the night was the Winter Salad. The bulk of the salad was shredded Brussels sprouts in place of lettuce offering a crunchy, hearty base that was refreshing.
Competing flavors of sweet and savory were then layered to complete the dish. Local apple, cob smoked bacon, wild chicory, Cheddar cheese, pumpkin seeds, and poached cranberries were all dressed with a maple-cider vinaigrette making each bite a mix of textures and flavors that brightened up the wintery night and really awakened taste buds.
We also ordered the squash ravioli and the empanadas. The ravioli filling was light and sweet with a bit of added sugar and spices to pick up that natural sweetness. They were pan fried giving them a slightly crisp texture that made the dish. The added bacon was a little overpowering with such light flavors but overall the dish was a wonderful starter.
Next up were empanadas filled with shreded, slow cooked, short rib. These were topped with a saffron cream. This dish really delivers the flavor. Served with a side of fresh salsa verde that adds a zing to the heavier flavors but isn’t really spicy.
Our least favorite appetizer was the mushrooms. While well cooked, the sauce they were served with had a slightly bitter flavor that we didn’t think blended well with the mushrooms. The mushrooms, when eaten alone, were delicious, but hadn’t picked up any of the sauce so it really felt like they were two separate elements that didn’t quite fit.
When we ordered our entrees, I already knew I would be stuffed from trying all of the appetizers we’d ordered. So I went with their lobster bisque, thinking a smaller portion and something lighter would be perfect. I was right!
This bisque was not a watered down version, such as is common in many restaurants in order to keep the price down. In fact, it was thick with strong lobster flavor. Pureed to perfection the heavy soup was seasoned with a nice bite of pepper and garnished with chive adding balance to the sweeter flavors of lobster and cream. It was delicious.
The portion size is smaller, so I wouldn’t recommend ordering this as a full meal. But if you are a light eater or are ordering it as a starter, the portion size is perfect.
Our dinner guest ordered the meatloaf. I am not one to order items I make regularly at home. But when I saw this dish, I was so happy he had ordered it. A huge portion graced the plate, filled with bacon and red peppers. A wonderfully gravy added more flavor and kept the meat soft and moist.
Served with whipped mashed potatoes topped with a bit of gravy and well seasoned, and with roasted carrots still carrying their crunch, the whole dish worked well together and was a hearty meal to satisfy any appetite.
My husband ordered their duck schnitzel. A beautiful plate was set on the table. The duck was perfectly cooked, remaining soft inside its crunchy schnitzel coating. Served with a dried cherry and green peppercorn brown butter sauce there was a balance between the wilder, earthy flavors of the meat cut by the sweetness and richness of the sauce,
The meat was served over a delicate celery puree that was light and addicting on its own, but really was elevated by the butter sauce creating a whole different flavor profile to enjoy with the meat.
Each dish offered layered flavors, something that really highlights ingredients and makes food so much more enjoyable. This truly is an experience that only a handful of restaurants in the Kingdom provide.
Overall, we really enjoyed dining at Parson’s Dinner House. The portion sizes seem a bit small at first glance, especially for appetizers, but I promise you that they are not. We spilt each appetizer between three people and I could hardly eat an entrée. And we all had to split dessert.
To finish off the meal we ordered two desserts to share – the cheese cake and the mousse.
Now, this cheese cake was not the sweet treat many people think of when they hear cheese cake – that is a NY style cheesecake. This was more traditional, more savory and amazing. It was more like a ricotta pie with a soft, light filling that is rich and satisfying.
The mousse on the other hand was a decadent affair. Made with Kahlua and served on top of a layer of cake, this dessert was a chocolate lover’s dream. Sweet and velvety, the added cake later and the addition of tapioca pearls brought a slight crunch that elevated the whole dish.
Our dessert topped off dinner perfectly.
This review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the fantastic drinks we enjoyed at Parson’s Dinner House restaurant in Barton, VT.
I ordered their lemon cocktail, a play on a traditional lemon drop. Lemon vodka, Contreau, candied lemon peel, and a honeyed rim dipped in candied lemon peel and sugar made for a bright flavored cocktail perfect for starting off the night.
We also tried their Midnight Sleigh Ride – a cocktail special being served through the bitter weeks in February. A blend of chocolate, crème de menthe and hazelnut, this was a dessert all on its own – but really did have that hot chocolate on a cold night feel that added a whimsical touch to our dinner.
The prices at Parson’s are on the higher end for restaurants in the region. But, the quality ingredients, the unique preparations and layered flavors, and the expertise with which the food is treated really do make most items on the menu worth the price.
We look forward to dining here again!
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Parson’s on NEK Eats