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« Northeast Organic Farming Education & Food Event March 2nd | Main | Celebrate National Margarita Day w/ Fresh Orange Margaritas »
Sunday
Feb242013

Exceeding Expectations at Trumbull's Parallel Post

The Trumbull Marriott’s Parallel Post restaurant is the result of a prescient collaboration with a James Beard nominated chef and a well-known hotel chain just off the beaten path of Fairfield County's regular dining haunts. Leveraging its proximity to the region’s small and robust network of farms, and the fisheries of Long Island Sound, this three-month-old restaurant draws its inspiration from the bounty of land and sea. The effect is a modern and seasonal New England menu that skews upscale, but without any pretense.

Chef and restaurateur Dean James Max was tapped by Trumbull’s Marriott to reimagine its restaurant—an intensive project that included a two month renovation of its dining spaces. Opened at the end of November 2012, the restaurant has been gaining momentum, thanks in large part to this embrace of local farms, a superlative understanding of seafood, a talented team led by Executive Chef Christopher Molyneux, and a welcome, if seemingly inauspicious location inside the Trumbull Marriott.

The restaurant’s talent and seafood pedigree runs deep thanks to its chefs, consulting Chef Dean James Max and Executive Chef Christopher Molyneux. Chef Max grew up near the Cheseapeake and a glance at his C.V. and his recent projects reflects his devotion to the ocean and respect for seasonality. Executive Chef Christopher Molyneux, the chef tasked with executing Parallel Post’s concept and running its kitchen, comes with his own preternatural understanding of seafood, honed from experience as a professional longline fisherman. A native of West Haven, Chef Molyneaux finds himself back in Connecticut after attending Johnson & Wales and traveling the country as an executive chef for Marriott.

Parallel Post’s offerings are anchored by its new and growing relationships with local farms and fisheries, with many familiar names gracing the menu, such as: Norwalk’s Norm Bloom & Sons in Norwalk, Roxbury’s Ox Hollow Farm, Lebanon’s Beltane Farm and Westport’s Gilbertie’s. Nearby New York farms can be found on the menu such as Coach Farms, with a few more Connecticut farms and their products in the works for spring and summer. The menu itself is flexible for small-plate meals or full-coursed dinners, and creatively organized into categories such as “Share,” “Garden,” “Eat Your Veggies,” “Handheld,” “Artisan Meats,” and “Sweet.”

Many of the first courses we tried were seafood-centric and could have easily stood on their own. These included the Norman Bloom Clams BLT, a trio of clams paired with Benton’s triple smoked bacon (a one-two punch of salt and smoke) that is tempered by the crunch of grilled romaine. A Fire-roasted Copps Island oyster is served with preserved lemon butter and smoked bacon. This is a single oyster served in its shell, served atop a crunchy piece of bread that begs to be dipped in the briny, buttery melange lingering at the bottom of its bowl. The seafood chowder is a must if you are hankering for soup. The creamy base, amply studded with mussels, Yukon Gold potatoes, monkfish, and clams, was divine. These ingredients were well-proportioned and just abundant enough to allow the creamy nuanced flavors of the base to compete for attention. Tempering the tempting and decadent small plates, we split the deceptively simple Garden Salad, a collection of distinct and flavorful small lettuces tossed with lightly pickled cucumbers, tangy and salty aged Coach Farms cheese, and tossed with a hazelnut vinaigrette.

Since we front-loaded our dinner with seafood, we embraced the “Artisan Meats” as we arrived at the third course. My barometer for a good restaurant tends to be its roast chicken. Get this  right, and I find the rest of a menu tends to deliver. Get it wrong and it can reflect a lack of experience or worse, a deficit of attention to detail. Parallel Post’s version of roast chicken knocked it out of the park with a moist and intensely flavored bird (they source their organic birds from Murray’s in New Jersey), simply prepared with salt, pepper and lemon. The dish is served with a creamy goat cheese polenta, collard greens and currants, anchored by a sauce I would dive into if given the opportunity. The sauce is a result of a 24 hour preparation, a lengthy recipe that demands rigorous prep and patience.  

Moving on from fowl, we also tried the beef. Parallel Post’s Beef Tenderloin is a hand-carved chateabriand, an exquisitely tender cut of beef exemplified by a perfect execution and medium rare temperature. It was so close to perfection we were convinced it was cooked sous-vide before a final surface sear. The chef assured us later it was just cooked correctly (albeit with a thorough dose of butter in the process). This dish also happens to comes with one of the most inventive sides on the menu, a Roasted Sweet Onion Gratin.

This Trojan Horse of an onion, beckons on the plate with its softball size and glistening surface studded with specs of salt and pepper. Cutting into the onion, I was surprised to unleash a slow-moving mass of cheese and potato emerging from its roasted onion skin. Finished with swiss chard and a red wine sauce,  this dish was by far a splurge at $34, but it was perfectly executed, dramatic and it exceeded expectations.

For dessert we tried a banana creme brulee and the chocolate valhrona cake. A well-balanced, and nicely portioned perfunctory sweet ending to a decadent and languorous meal. At this point I had already made a mental checklist of things I would try upon a return visit, including their “Hand Helds” which included a great-sounding burger as well as their cocktail menu. Parallel Post has a happy hour menu with drinks and snacks that range from $3 to $8, a relative steal at a place of this caliber.  

Parallel Post benefits from its placement, tucked safely inside a hotel where service is naturally paramount. The restaurant itself is wide and welcome with a variety of seatingfrom cozy booths, to bar-height tables, traditional two-to-four top tables, and a communal tablemaking it transitional enough for a variety of experiences whether you're arranging a clandestine meeting (it is still a hotel bar after all), or a week-day dinner, and easily for a (as much as I detest this phrase) girls-night-out.

Working through the menu on our visits, a few things have become abundantly clear. Not only has serious thought and care has gone into crafting the menu, but the talent and depth in the kitchen paired with some pretty down-to-earth and attentive service makes Parallel Post a welcome addition to the dining scene. The menu can skew a bit upscale and bring-your-expense-account, but also just as easily serves as a comfortable and welcoming evening out if you opt for a combination of small, yet thoughtful “Share” plates.  

Parallel Post is located at the Trumbull Marriott. It is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Information at ParallelPostRestaurant.com or call 203.380.6380.

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Reader Comments (4)

Does anyone know where I can view a breakfast/brunch or lunch menu for Parallel Post?

February 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

Arrived at 7:30 on a Saturday night and was seated right away. We sat for approximately 25 minutes before our 1st waiter came over and asked if we'd like a drink. The appetizers came out at slightly different times and were tasty. We finished the appetizers and the plates sat, and sat, and sat. I looked for someone to clear but couldn't find any staff. The meals came (3 of the 4), were placed down and 2 of the 3 appetizer plates were cleared. Finally the 4th dinner arrived and the waiter left before clearing the rest of the appetizers. I asked waiter #2 to clear the plate and also reminded her that our vegetables hasnt arrived as of yet (15 minutes after the entrees). I also asked for a manager. The food was generally good although the scallops came in a cream sauce (not mentioned on the menu). The manager finally came over, offered a round of drinks, which we refused, and apologized. The waitress came back and told us the manager took some drinks off. When the bill came, 2 beers had been taken off...not the $12 glass of wine, not the $12 grey goose on the rocks, but 2 beers. The manager reiterated this was not their normal service and hopes we'll give them another chance. I'd like to reiterate...not gonna happen!

March 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark Zblake

Had to try Parallel Post after reading this.

There are two burger choices; a “Double Burger” made with grass-fed beef, Vermont cheddar, Benton’s bacon, served on a brioche bun; plus a “Grilled local Angus burger” with Gruyere cheese, tomato jam, served on an onion roll. When I asked I was told that both are eight ounces but the meat on the double was from Ox Hollow. I went with the double, medium-rare. Since it does not come with fries, I ordered some fries as well.

When my lunch arrived I first sampled the fries. They were cooked perfectly, crispy on the exterior and still soft and moist on the interior, lightly salted but the ones on top were a little cool, so they sat a bit before being served. But they were excellent.

Moving to the burger was a delightful surprise. Both patties were grilled to a perfect medium rare. The Gruyere cheese was melted atop the patties and there were several thin slices of bacon, also cooked to perfection with a dollop of aioli. The brioche included a few sesame seeds atop and the open sides of the bun were first buttered and then grilled to a light brown. The meat was delicious, with the bacon and Gruyere adding a touch of saltiness. The aioli added just a touch of zip to the dish.

The fries are served with both a spicy ketchup and vinegar. The former added just a touch of heat to both the fries and the burger.

Overall this was a great burger and fries for $13.

Based on the review, and the fact that we needed "somewhere to eat" near Trumbull, we ventured in the Hotel. Weird vibe to say the least but hey, if if it works (and it does) for Nappa then I am game. Food really is spot on, Clam BLT was so good, we wanted to ask for more bread to sop up the delish broth. Very nice sized portion too. The adult grilled cheese was very good, loved the pear chutney. Great to share, nice sized app. or smaller entree, very filling. The 2 guys had the burgers, good reviews not great ( but their standards are ridiculously high) but be aware there is nothing on the plate but the bun and burger (and a few pickles). Very nice size for the price. Had to have the onion gratin, looked amazing - great idea but sadly it was ice cold. Never made it past the first bite. Service was very amateurish and sloooooooow. If this restaurant was anywhere else, we would give it another try. We felts the bar scene was rather distracting and way too loud, there is no demarcation between the bar and the restaurant. All in all, great food tho.

March 6, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterekg

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