Let me begin with two words. Deviled eggs.
Surely (who you callin’ Shirley?) someone couldn’t be excited by a deviled egg. Shirley, you would surely be wrong. (Are you guys not digging my Airplane humor?) In any event, I was more than a little excited to go to Park Tavern, the newer venture from the same female team that brought you Marlowe (can you ever forget that pot of duck liver mousse? I think not!). They revamped the old Moose’s space in North Beach into a sleek, modern rustic, friggin’ loud restaurant. The good news is that when you go to Park Tavern, you really feel like you’re going out for the night; perhaps I’ve become more needy as a parent, but ever since I’ve had to start paying a babysitter so that I can go out and eat, I want it to feel like a real night out. With a cavernous restaurant, a high decibel, and mix of young, old and medium (but with equal amounts of discretionary income, I’m guessing), Park Tavern meets my needs. And they have the dignity to offer valet in one of the most awful areas to park.
The menu branches out from Marlowe, but certain Marlowe specials migrated to Park Tavern’s menu, including the incredible deviled eggs and shockingly good brussel sprout chips.
Obviously, I started with the deviled eggs. I don’t know what it is about these little tempting cholesterol busters, but they are just so right. Deviled eggs with bacon, pickled jalapeño, and chives. Creamy, familiar, salty and smoky. Perfect bite.
The brussel sprout chips are crisp and salty — an outstanding starter to pair with your cocktail of choice (they have delicious cocktails, incidentally). When one of my dinner companions suggested that the brussel sprouts were giving him a “cereal” taste, I deduced that it must be fruit loops. When we inquired with the server what could be the source, she revealed that there is a teeny amount of lemon zest used in the preparation. I’m so glad I didn’t say that it was Cocoa Puffs!
We also tried the Fried Oyster “Caesar,” which the server described as little lettuce wraps for the oyster. While I like a good oyster, this was not that gratifying. The oysters are fried, then you place them in a little bibb lettuce. Issue? The lettuce is already dressed with the Caesar, so it makes for a bit of a messy affair if they’re being sold as a lettuce wrap. Plus, they give you an additional little bowl of Caesar, making me wonder what exactly is the point of dressing the lettuce anyway? With so many little bite choices on Park Tavern’s menu, I’d opt out of this one…
After discussing options with the server, I chose the brined and grilled pork chop for my entree. A healthy portion of charred bone-in pork is served with dino kale and butter bean pistou. This dish is not a light undertaking. It’s hearty, soul satisfying, and frankly, heavy. In the battle of pork v. Dina, the pork won (this time), as I threw in the fork and asked for a to go box.
And yet somehow, I still managed to find room for dessert. Amazing. But the lemon cheesecake parfait with huckleberries and smoked salt was the perfect ending. Light and airy, but still cheesecakey (without the density), plus a lemon tang to cut against any hint of fat (because you know, this thing must have been fat free, right?). I loved it. [As a sidenote, Park Tavern has a "Birthday Cake" dessert, which is a different cake each month. My night was a Rum cake, which I wasn't excited about, but I'd be anxious to try their carrot cake.]
Bauer’s two cents here. Given the 3 stars, don’t be surprised to see it on the Top 100 list for 2012.