Dining Out: Parsnip

In December 2013 Upstairs on the Square closed its doors after 31 years. I was in complete denial and spent months mourning the loss of a place that was so special to me, and also where I had hoped to one day host my bridal shower (yes, after I meet someone). You can read about my farewell meal here. Parsnip is the name of the restaurant that has moved into that space. 

On a Sunday morning my friend and I met at Parsnip to enjoy brunch before going to the movies. Though it says Parsnip on the sign out front, the original Upstairs on the Square gate is still outside.

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A large gray banner runs the length of the brick building, shepherding you toward the front door. 

Parsnip

The inside of the dining room is plain, especially in contrast to the Upstairs on the Square decor. I found this look to be very muted. It felt almost like a hotel restaurant to me. 

Parsnip

The place settings were elegant, including a bright yellow single bloom in the center of our table.

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Naturally we began by purusing the brunch cocktail list. I love that they have so many mimosa flavor options!

Parsnip

I decided on the classic mimosa (left) and my brunch date order the ginger pear bellini (right). 

Parsnip

I normally order Bloody Marys, but I was in the mood to switch it up. The classic mimosa tasted exactly like it should, with equal parts OJ and champagne. The ginger pear bellini came with cubes of fresh pear in the glass. My friend said, "You can smell the ginger as you lift the glass toward your nose. That being said, the strongest taste as you sip it is definitely pear."

To eat, I went with the fried egg, avocado and parmesan cheese on wheat toast. For a $14 dollar plate I was shocked by the size of the portion. They couldn't have given me two pieces of toast? One egg on each piece? 

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Though the plate was criminally small, the eggs were cooked perfectly and the toast was nice and crispy. I had trouble tasting any parmesan cheese, but allegedly it was on there. 

My friend decided on the eggs benedict. Because she is both a vegetarian and gluten-free, she asked if the dish could be made without ham and without the English muffin. The waiter seemed accommodating, but what arrived was just sad. 

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The two eggs were sitting at the bottom of the bowl, drizzled with a very thin Hollandaise sauce. Why didn't they offer to put the eggs over spinach? Or maybe even slices of tomato? 

Because our egg dishes were so tiny, we bolstered the meal with two side dishes. The first to arrive was the Tuscan kale with chili flakes and preserved lemon. 

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The kale was leafy and hearty and had a nice kick to it from the chili flakes. 

We also ordered the home fries which were expertly cubed and seasoned with garlic and rosemary. While I did enjoy them, I wish our waiter had offered to bring ketchup. 

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When all of our plates were cleared my friend commented, "I can sum up this entire experience in one word - unispired." I hate to say it, but I have to agree. Upstairs on the Square was going to be a tough act to follow no matter what, but Parsnip just did not deliver. The decor is plain, the dishes are small and overpriced and the food just doesn't wow you at all. 

Tell me, have you been? Did you feel similarly? 

Comments

Stephanie Blackburn's picture

This was honestly the most pathetic meal I've ever eaten. In today's reality of so many people having food allergies a restaurant needs to be accommodating. If someone cannot eat bread then offer to put the eggs atop a bed of vegetables - something! Also, a hollandaise is not a difficult sauce but somehow this one was runny and flavorless. I go out to eat to have a meal that I wouldn't normally make for myself at home and everything about this meal screamed that I could absolutely make this meal at home (and do it better). Can you tell I'm still upset? :)

Molly's picture

Of course you are still upset! We overpaid for a lackluster meal in a place we used to love. That bowl of two poached eggs was the saddest thing I have ever seen.

Kristen Fenton's picture

This is a shame on all levels - the drab interior is just so sad to me compared to what it used to be! I was not expecting the food to be so...blah. With all the fabulous restaurants opening, I'm not so sure Parsnip will survive unless they step up their game! P.S. I enjoyed Stephanie's rant above! It is extremely justified!

Molly's picture

I completely agree. I have so many happy memories at Upstairs on the Square. The wild, fun decor always lifted your spirits immediately upon arrival! Parsnip is drab, overpriced and the food is just . . . blah. I agree, it will be tough for them to compete with neighbors like Alden and Harlow, Waypoint and Russell House.

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Molly Galler

Welcome to Pop.Bop.Shop. My name is Molly. I’m a foodie, fashionista, pop culture addict and serious travel junkie. I’m a lifelong Bostonian obsessed with frozen confections, outdoor patios, Mindy Kaling, reality television, awards shows, tropical vacations, snail mail and my birthday.

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Address:
Parsnip
91 Winthrop Street
02138 Cambridge , MA
United States
Massachusetts US