By Eileen Weber
I have one word to describe Parallel Post at the Trumbull Marriott: phenomenal.
I could say it’s because they source everything as locally as possible. When they can’t, superior quality still reigns. They want organic. They want fair trade. They want sustainable. What you get is high-quality, clean food.
I could say all of those things, but it would be only half true. The other half is passion. Ali Goss, the Chef de Cuisine, and Chris Molyneux, the Executive Chef, took an hour and half out of their immensely busy day to tell us about their commitment to local sourcing and how its reflected on their menu.
We talked about how difficult it can be to find the right ingredients. How frustrating it is to hear patrons complain about how expensive food is. (By the way, their grass-fed burger is $12. Head to any place in Westport and you’ll find it’s nearly double.)
Follow the food chain. Great ingredients take time to grow and cultivate. You’re not just paying the people who make the food; you’re paying the farmer. This is a true farm-to-table restaurant that has a solid relationship with the people who supply them.
Take Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens, a fourth generation, USDA-certified organic grower of herbs, vegetables, and micro greens in Easton, with a retail shop in Westport. At least a couple of times a week, Gilbertie’s drops off a 4 x 20 box of whatever is fresh that week. Molyneux said he can’t keep the greens on the shelf. The salads are one of his biggest sellers because they’re so fresh and flavorful.
As for Goss, she gets excited with each new delivery. Trained at Le Cordon Bleu at the California campus, she spent several years working with the Dean James Max organization in Florida. (Parallel Post is a Dean James Max restaurant.) While it’s been a blast working in Connecticut, the seasonality here is a lot different than in the Deep South.
“I miss it,” she said of the great weather there. “The water is a like a warm bath and you can see your feet!”
She went on to say that while Florida has an abundance of fish to cook with, most people don’t realize how much fish we have in our area. Connecticut has a great coastline with some pretty dedicated fishermen.
In fact, Molyneux was one of them. A West Haven native, he spent his early career fishing the coastal waters. He knows every type of fish along the shoreline and can tell you how much they cost because he used to sell them. Good for restaurant patrons; bad for fish vendors. He knows when he’s being gouged.
He also knows great fish when we sees it and he’s not afraid to use the bycatch. When lobstermen get black fish or eel caught in their traps, he says, “Give ‘em to me. I’ll take ‘em!”
It’s not just the fish that gets the spotlight at Parallel Post, either. Fish may be more readily available, but they are also keen on working with farms that provide fresh meat. Ox Hollow Farm in Roxbury, one of their prime vendors, sells pasture-raised beef, pork, chicken, and lamb. They have been family owned and operated since 1996 and their livestock are completely hormone and antibiotic free.
Fairfield Green Food Guide had the pleasure of visiting for lunch. (According to Goss, lunch has nothing on dinner. You may want to consider that when making a reservation.)
We had a “grilled cheese for grownups” featuring flax seed bread and a sweet-tart topping of caramelized onions that tasted not unlike an onion jam. A fresh salad of organic mixed greens from Gilbertie’s, roasted tomatoes, and a “quick pickle” cucumber ribbons lightly dressed with a hazelnut vinaigrette was just the right foil for the next dish: a pastrami sandwich.
But this wasn’t your typical deli-style pastrami—dry and stringy—tightly packed between two slices of store-bought rye bread. No. If pastrami could be an art form, it would look like this sandwich. They brine the meat themselves and air-dry it for 24 hours before they bake it off. This sandwich takes a nearly two-week process to get to your table.
Two other dishes stood out, both of them topped with bacon. Everything’s better with bacon, right? While that may be true, everything is also far better when the shellfish used is super fresh. The oysters and clams were both from Norm Bloom & Sons in Norwalk. Three gorgeous oysters were prepared with super-smoky Tennessee bacon atop and lovingly nestled on a slice of fresh, crunchy toast. What to do with the toast? Why, dip it into the briny liquor at the base of the shell, of course.
As for the clams, let me just say this dish was perfection in a bowl. The Clam BLT, as it was called, had a slice of baguette with grilled Romaine lettuce, roasted tomatoes, as well as crunchy bacon. The clams were not just succulent, but supple. Toothsome and delicate, they gave a subtle sweetness without taking away from the dish. But the true star? The broth—unbelievable tomatoey goodness with a kick of garlic and a hint of heat. Frankly, I wanted to swim in it.
But wait, there’s more. Dessert was sheer genius. Pastry chef Madelyn Rendon whipped up a miniature banana cream pie in a graham cracker crust topped with toasted coconut plated with caramel bananas on the side. I don’t like banana cream pie. I often find it dense with a banana flavor that’s a little too over the top. This was not that kind of banana cream pie. It was light, fluffy and not too sweet. And, if I may say, it was downright adorable.
The next dish was the pumpkin panna cotta with Kahlua marshmallow cream. This can only be described as marshmallow fluff with a massive wallop of pumpkin flavor and spice. The consistency was dreamy and the taste sublime. I couldn’t stop putting my spoon inside and got a little disappointed when there wasn’t any more.
A cardamom rice pudding with quince chutney and toasted pistachios rounded out the dessert list. I’m not a big fan of rice pudding either, but I would eat this any day of the week.
At Parallel Post, your dessert will not be ruined by an insipid cup of coffee. True to their local-sustainable ethic, Parallel Post was one of the first restaurants to embrace the organic, Fair Trade coffees roasted daily by Shearwater Coffee Roasters. Chef Molyneux said Shearwater created a custom blend for the restaurant to match the strength and body of the coffee they were previously serving.
The drinks at the ample bar match the food in their quest for all things local, organic and sustainable. The cocktail is the new “It Girl” for beverages lately. And they take this to new heights. Flavors you would never think to blend come together in a surprisingly refreshing way. Mixologist and bar meister extraordinaire Greg Genias is behind it all. Joni Yale, the Senior Operations Manager there, credits Genias as a big draw for the restaurant.
“He’s a huge piece of this whole puzzle,” she said.
Their Moon Goddess cocktail, one of his signature drinks, calls for pineapple muddled with arugula and Onyx Moonshine, the only moonshine made in Connecticut.
“You think, ‘Oh that’s not going to work,’” said Sarah Rizk, Parallel Post’s Assistant Manager. “But it’s my favorite drink. People love it. It’s great when you get to ‘wow’ people.”
Think you’d like to try it out? Why not reserve a spot for their one-year anniversary dinner! They still have spots open for Wednesday, November 20, at 6:00 p.m. The price is $65 per person for a five-course feast with wine pairings.
And if you can’t make the 20, no worries. You can always check them out for their Thanksgiving buffet on November 28. Seatings start at 11:30 a.m. and run every 45 minutes. Take the stress out of turkey day and make a reservation by calling them at 203-380-6380 or check out the menu online by visiting www.parallelpostrestaurant.com.
Parallel Post at the Trumbull Marriott
180 Hawley Ln, Trumbull, CT 06611