If you follow me on Twitter, you saw me gushing Friday night over our dinner at Parka.
I've been wanting to go to Parka for a while just because of its credentials (V44 + Rustica + Dogwood). But we kept picking other places to go to because, frankly, Parka's menu never spoke to me.
We should have gone earlier.
Similar to V44, it's a little out of the way for us, especially on a Friday night during rush hour. And Friday night, as I listened to Lola whine in her carseat for 30 minutes, I was regretting the decision and wishing we had stayed closer to home.
But then we walked in and my mood instantly turned around.
Parka has a cool vibe. It's casual and cute. And at exactly 5pm it was empty (yes!). We were greeted by a super friendly server who seated us right under the kids shelves with hip (and clean!) toys. He gave us a children's menu right away and told us he could put in an order for Lola as soon as we wanted. He brought her milk in a straw cup. He asked us if we wanted him to grab us the last ginger cookie that came with her kids meal. (And after we told him we'd pass b/c our girl doesn't like sweets, he got it for us anyway and wrapped it up for us to take home.)
In went Lola's order for the english muffin pizza with tomato pineapple soffrito.
I sipped my glass of malbec, started decompressing, and we watched Lola love the Rubix cube and wooden figurines from the kids' shelves.
We had a slight setback when the complimentary curry popcorn arrived to tide us over and a certain someone not yet old enough for popcorn decided she needed to have it. But alas, we distracted her and took turns hiding the popcorn on the chairs next to us, sneaking bites when she wasn't looking. (It was good.)
So, the menu is heavy on comfort foods. That's what's deterred me in the past. But oh, stupid me. I narrowed my choices down to the meatloaf sandwich, the crayfish "tuna casserole," and the fried chicken, and ultimately decided on the meatloaf sandwich because I had a hankering for French fries. It was so good. I need to seriously consider where I'd put this on my list of favorite sandwiches in town because it would be up there for sure. The meatloaf was fall apart tender and delicious; it was topped with good cheddar, homemade tomato relish, and onions. And maybe a smear of mayo on the bottom bun? I didn't have it on my plate long enough to really look as I had two other people helping me eat it.
But let's be honest. The real reason we came was because their cookie and milk flight has been on my bucket list for a while. So out that came, at about the same time that Lola lost interest in her food, her straw, and the Rubix cube. I'll just show you a picture.
I won't even bother describing it. It was good. You can see that. We took turns scarfing the bars and cookies down while the other walked around with Lola. We asked that the rest (it would be impossible to finish in one sitting) be boxed, and we each made sure we kept our piles separate in the box for fear that the other would snatch our saved goodies.
So, let's see where we're at: the space is great, the food is great, the attention to kids is great. The malbec was maybe my favorite I've ever had. Parka was perfect on Friday night.
We have a lot of places in town that nail the vibe, service, and food. But not as many nail it with kids. Hopefully that continues to change.
Another kid-friendly favorite right now is The Lynn. I love the Hodgepodge on their kids menu--a 6 cup muffin tin that comes filled with cubed cheese, chicken drummies, mini croques, fruit, and veggies. The price? $1 for every year the kiddo is. For parents of a 1 year old, that is a major steal. Something you actually feel somewhat guilty about. But what I loved even more than the price was the quality of the ingredients. The chicken drummies were cooked in a honey sauce and so delicious--and are made just for the Hodgepodge. The cheese was the good stuff, not the usual American / processed cheddar / etc. Instead of a grilled cheese, it was a mini croque monsieur. The peas were freshly shelled peas. I mean, seriously. (They also have really enticing other options on their kids menu, but for now, while Lola doesn't care, we're going the $1 route).
I love the food people we have in this city that are catering to kids as much as their parents. You allow me to have a civilized dinner out and you help me expand my kids' culinary horizons and expose my kid to the great food I love.