If rumors of the wonderful food Parkside offers do not attract you, the glowing neon sign above the doors surely will. Located in the Warehouse District of downtown Raleigh, incorporating history into the design must have been a goal. And they succeeded in a hip, simple, modern way. The walls differ between stone, wood and brick. Metal chairs with dark brick-color cushions line the dining room. Plants hang along the windows, which added brightness throughout the building. But what was my favorite décor? Sriracha and Cholula bottles on every table!
My boyfriend and I started with the Fried Provolone Wheel ($9) that was plated with bruschetta and a balsamic reduction. Let’s just start by saying that cheese is my weakness. I want cheese on everything. This appetizer hit the spot! It was fried to a dark golden color and had the “perfect amount of crunchy-ness” as my boyfriend stated. The provolone was oozing out of the wheel. It had a good consistency. I’m not a fan of the cheese that can stretch for two feet as you pull it, so it pleased me that the cheese ripped as you pulled it apart. The “bruschetta” was basically diced tomatoes rather than the typical tomato, basil and garlic mixture, but I didn’t mind that too much because the tomatoes tasted fresh and crisp. The small swirl of balsamic glaze was a great addition of acidity to cut through the other flavors.
Next, my entrée, the Jackfruit Vegan BBQ Sandwich with vegan slaw on a Kaiser roll ($9.99). I’m not vegan by any means, but I gave up meat for lent so I’ve been testing the waters of the vegetarian and vegan scene lately. I must say, I was happy with this choice! For those of you that are new to jackfruit, it is a tree-borne fruit native to South and Southeast Asia that can be sweet when ripe or savory when unripe. It has the look and texture of pulled pork, so it makes a perfect fit for a vegan BBQ sandwich. As a meat-lover, I was intimidated at first, but really enjoyed it after taking a few bites. The BBQ had a mild spice to it and great flavor. I felt as if I was eating a pulled pork sandwich. The vegan slaw was vinegar based (not typically a fan of.. I love my mayo) but the vinegar taste wasn’t in your face. It acted as an element to pull the flavor of the vegetables in the slaw together (green apple, red and green cabbage, carrots). My only complaint is that the Kaiser roll was so thick that I was eating more bread than anything. I paired my sandwich with cheese grits. And I can say with confidence that these were the BEST cheese grits I have ever had! Great consistency and tons of cheese.
My boyfriend got the “Joe’s Meat and Three” ($17.99), choosing the salmon, mashed potatoes, collard greens, and mac and cheese. I tried everything on his plate except for the salmon. He said that it didn’t have much seasoning, but it wasn’t a big deal because the salmon was cooked to a medium temperature and had a very fresh taste on its own. I will start with the mashed potatoes. By far the most buttery I have had (not a bad thing at all) with a sweet almost red grape aftertaste (that’s a super weird description, I know), and I loved that they left the skins on so it provided a contrast of texture. The collard greens were interesting because they had an acidic taste, so vinegar was probably used at some point in the dish but it wasn’t overpowering. I also appreciated that the greens weren’t cooked down into mush, but maintained some body. It was a take on collard greens that I’ve never experienced before, so I gave it two thumbs up. The mac and cheese exceeded my expectations. The pasta itself was cooked al-dente, and the sauce reminded me almost of a thick alfredo sauce, possibly with white cheddar.
For dessert, we went with the Lemon and Raspberry Cheesecake ($8). The many layers consisted of a lemon cheesecake, raspberry jam, and fluffy vanilla cake. The lemon taste was very light, which is either awesome or disappointing depending on what you prefer. My favorite part was the bottom layer – the raspberry jam and crust together tasted like a raspberry newton bar. The initial bite I took I got that unusual taste like the cake was sitting in the fridge for a day or two, but my boyfriend said he didn’t get that at all. I’m not the biggest dessert fan to begin with, so maybe I’m a tough critic. The sauce on the plate was awesome; it tasted like fresh raspberries blended with cream so it was slightly sour. In the end, I enjoyed the dessert.
The food and service at Parkside was fantastic overall. This was my second trip within a week, and I plan to make this a regular spot since it’s within walking distance from my job. I look forward to trying more food from Parkside!
Alexis Raynor works in the restaurant industry in downtown Raleigh and is obtaining a degree in Public Relations. She enjoys creating healthy, yet flavorful recipes at home and trying unique food everywhere she travels to. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @everyday.alexis.