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Parc Bistro Brasserie: a brasserie, a bistro, a very French café

Man, this terrace is so sit-at-able

Orange Mimolette (one of the unusual cheeses on the $14 happy hour board).
Orange Mimolette (one of the unusual cheeses on the $14 happy hour board).

The angel Gabriel blasts his golden trumpet high above Fifth Avenue. It glints in the evening sun from the dome of The Abbey, the massive onetime church across the road.

Place

Parc Bistro Brasserie

2760 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

“I am worth it,” I say to myself, as I check over the menu. But OMG. This. Is. Crazy. I have put my head in the noose for at least fifty bucks. And all because I got an itch to sit at a bona fide brasserie. It’s called Parc. Sexy French spelling. It seems to be part of a wave of French eateries making a comeback after a decade of Italian domination in this town. In its deja vu way, this is so refreshing. I mean, I know, Parc has probably been around and I just haven’t been up here in Bankers Hill to see it. But stepping off the #3 bus, you get hit with this place that looks just like what it says it is: a brasserie, a bistro, a very French café. It sprawls along the sidewalk on Fifth, a couple of blocks from Laurel.

Waiter Roger brings the cheese platter.

I’m figuring if I just have a soup or some antipasti I might get out of here for something under twenty clams. But man, this terrace is so sit-at-able. People at the tables around me seem to be talking about The Arts, grants, rellies coming in from the Other Coast. All bespeaking an echelon above what I’m honestly used to. And the menu reflects that: I’m seeing starters like smoked salmon crostini for $15, lamb sausage for $16, a cheese board for $20, six oysters for $24, then we’re on to insanities like petite filet mignons for $40 and seafood towers, $64 to $199. Ulp. I keep scanning.

“See anything you like?” says Morgan. She’s the fun serveuse who’s covering this part of the patio. I’m frantically looking for anything I can afford to like. Just to gain more time, I ask for their soupe du jour, potato soup, because at least that’s only ten buckeroos. And, hell, I’ll add a glass of vino. Cost-wise, not so bad. A nice ruby glass of Cotes du Rhône costs $11.  The soup’s just a little creamy puddle in the middle of a nun’s hat plate. It’s nice and thick, with an island of bacon. (And I have to say, it’s nice to have the heavy knives and spoons and beautiful linen napkin, neat tablecloth, and the Bankers Hill crowd sauntering by on the sidewalk.) The taste is thick and bacony. It comes with a half-dozen slices of baguette, plus a pile of olive tapenade to squish into them. It’s great to dip that bread into the soup. Quite a deal for $10; honestly, if I wasn’t becoming so greedy for more to round out this Cotes du Rhône, the soup would be enough to keep ye olde hollow gut at bay.

Problem: Morgan’s back, armed with a menu of entrees. And there it is, item #1, what I long for: steak frites with peppercorn sauce and spinach. It’s a flatiron steak. (Never sure what da heck that actually is. OK. Wikipedia says it’s a shoulder cut.) And that’s what I’m about to pay, uh, $32 for. But what thu heck. Just feel like eating what all these soigné suavecito folks around me are chowing down on so casually. The steak is pretty good, pretty tender. But even with the peppercorn sauce, it’s not that flavorful. Still, with seven slices, it is a huge amount to consume.

Two sliders - At $5 each, great value for happy hour. Just need a little more flavor.

And guess what? Next night, here I am, at the same table, watching that same sun flashing gold sparks off Gabriel’s trumpet again. This time, I make sure to come during happy hour (it lasts from 3-7 pm, Monday to Friday). I’m ready to eat as cheaply as you can here. It starts off at $4 for house bread and tapenade, then $8 for truffle fries, then a whole bunch of items at $10: Kale salad, smoked salmon crostini, ceviche tostada, roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and interestingly, Parc sliders, two of them. There are other items that cost a couple of bucks more, like calamari fritti for $12, steamed mussels for $16, and six oysters for $20.

Kale salad: kale’s well disguised.

But I’ve decided: the kale salad has to be good at $10, and I add the Parc sliders ($10), and the artisan cheese board for $14. Yes, spending way too much again, but as the old saying goes, I may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. Salad’s surprisingly un kale-like, the sliders deliver plenty of meat, but they taste a little bit meh — like, no flavor to speak of. The freak star of this happy hour has to be the cheese plate. A meal in itself, and with interesting cheeses I’ve never heard of. Talking of stars, a waiter who looks just like Stanley Tucci says the orange cheese is a Mimolette, (or “Boule de Lille”) from the French city of Lille. The dense, orange slices are strong but not overpowering. Then they have a really intense Roquefort, a nice gloopy Camembert, and finally another cheese that’s new to me: “Miticana” goat cheese from Spain. Also nice and strong. So it’s good that they’ve cut up a strawberry, sliced some almonds, and dumped a pile of fig jam, to mix with these cheeses and breads. This, too, would be enough for a meal. Next time I come, it will be the meal. I specially love the Mimolette. Who knew cheeses could be so interesting?

So, I leave, broke but not broken. In the end, who cares? I’ve had my splurge. Tomorrow, I’ll be happily back on gruel and grits.

  • The Place: Parc Bistro Brasserie, 2760 Fifth Avenue, Bankers Hill, 619-795-1501
  • Hours: 11:30am - 9:30pm, daily (Friday, 11:30am -10pm; Saturday, 9am - 10:30pm; Sunday, 9am - 9:30pm
  • Happy Hours: 3-7pm, Monday to Friday
  • Prices: Smoked salmon crostini, $15; lamb sausage $16; cheeseboard, $20; six oysters, $24; petite filet mignons, $40; seafood towers, $64 to $199;
  • Happy Hour Prices: House bread and tapenade, $4; truffle fries, $8; kale salad, $10; smoked salmon crostini, $10; ceviche tostada, $10; roasted cauliflower, $10; Brussels sprouts, $10; two Parc sliders, $10; calamari fritti, $12; steamed mussels, $16; six oysters, $20; cheeseboard, $14
  • Buses: 3, 120
  • Nearest Bus Stops: 5th and Nutmeg (#3); 5th and Laurel (#120)
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Orange Mimolette (one of the unusual cheeses on the $14 happy hour board).
Orange Mimolette (one of the unusual cheeses on the $14 happy hour board).

The angel Gabriel blasts his golden trumpet high above Fifth Avenue. It glints in the evening sun from the dome of The Abbey, the massive onetime church across the road.

Place

Parc Bistro Brasserie

2760 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

“I am worth it,” I say to myself, as I check over the menu. But OMG. This. Is. Crazy. I have put my head in the noose for at least fifty bucks. And all because I got an itch to sit at a bona fide brasserie. It’s called Parc. Sexy French spelling. It seems to be part of a wave of French eateries making a comeback after a decade of Italian domination in this town. In its deja vu way, this is so refreshing. I mean, I know, Parc has probably been around and I just haven’t been up here in Bankers Hill to see it. But stepping off the #3 bus, you get hit with this place that looks just like what it says it is: a brasserie, a bistro, a very French café. It sprawls along the sidewalk on Fifth, a couple of blocks from Laurel.

Waiter Roger brings the cheese platter.

I’m figuring if I just have a soup or some antipasti I might get out of here for something under twenty clams. But man, this terrace is so sit-at-able. People at the tables around me seem to be talking about The Arts, grants, rellies coming in from the Other Coast. All bespeaking an echelon above what I’m honestly used to. And the menu reflects that: I’m seeing starters like smoked salmon crostini for $15, lamb sausage for $16, a cheese board for $20, six oysters for $24, then we’re on to insanities like petite filet mignons for $40 and seafood towers, $64 to $199. Ulp. I keep scanning.

“See anything you like?” says Morgan. She’s the fun serveuse who’s covering this part of the patio. I’m frantically looking for anything I can afford to like. Just to gain more time, I ask for their soupe du jour, potato soup, because at least that’s only ten buckeroos. And, hell, I’ll add a glass of vino. Cost-wise, not so bad. A nice ruby glass of Cotes du Rhône costs $11.  The soup’s just a little creamy puddle in the middle of a nun’s hat plate. It’s nice and thick, with an island of bacon. (And I have to say, it’s nice to have the heavy knives and spoons and beautiful linen napkin, neat tablecloth, and the Bankers Hill crowd sauntering by on the sidewalk.) The taste is thick and bacony. It comes with a half-dozen slices of baguette, plus a pile of olive tapenade to squish into them. It’s great to dip that bread into the soup. Quite a deal for $10; honestly, if I wasn’t becoming so greedy for more to round out this Cotes du Rhône, the soup would be enough to keep ye olde hollow gut at bay.

Problem: Morgan’s back, armed with a menu of entrees. And there it is, item #1, what I long for: steak frites with peppercorn sauce and spinach. It’s a flatiron steak. (Never sure what da heck that actually is. OK. Wikipedia says it’s a shoulder cut.) And that’s what I’m about to pay, uh, $32 for. But what thu heck. Just feel like eating what all these soigné suavecito folks around me are chowing down on so casually. The steak is pretty good, pretty tender. But even with the peppercorn sauce, it’s not that flavorful. Still, with seven slices, it is a huge amount to consume.

Two sliders - At $5 each, great value for happy hour. Just need a little more flavor.

And guess what? Next night, here I am, at the same table, watching that same sun flashing gold sparks off Gabriel’s trumpet again. This time, I make sure to come during happy hour (it lasts from 3-7 pm, Monday to Friday). I’m ready to eat as cheaply as you can here. It starts off at $4 for house bread and tapenade, then $8 for truffle fries, then a whole bunch of items at $10: Kale salad, smoked salmon crostini, ceviche tostada, roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and interestingly, Parc sliders, two of them. There are other items that cost a couple of bucks more, like calamari fritti for $12, steamed mussels for $16, and six oysters for $20.

Kale salad: kale’s well disguised.

But I’ve decided: the kale salad has to be good at $10, and I add the Parc sliders ($10), and the artisan cheese board for $14. Yes, spending way too much again, but as the old saying goes, I may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. Salad’s surprisingly un kale-like, the sliders deliver plenty of meat, but they taste a little bit meh — like, no flavor to speak of. The freak star of this happy hour has to be the cheese plate. A meal in itself, and with interesting cheeses I’ve never heard of. Talking of stars, a waiter who looks just like Stanley Tucci says the orange cheese is a Mimolette, (or “Boule de Lille”) from the French city of Lille. The dense, orange slices are strong but not overpowering. Then they have a really intense Roquefort, a nice gloopy Camembert, and finally another cheese that’s new to me: “Miticana” goat cheese from Spain. Also nice and strong. So it’s good that they’ve cut up a strawberry, sliced some almonds, and dumped a pile of fig jam, to mix with these cheeses and breads. This, too, would be enough for a meal. Next time I come, it will be the meal. I specially love the Mimolette. Who knew cheeses could be so interesting?

So, I leave, broke but not broken. In the end, who cares? I’ve had my splurge. Tomorrow, I’ll be happily back on gruel and grits.

  • The Place: Parc Bistro Brasserie, 2760 Fifth Avenue, Bankers Hill, 619-795-1501
  • Hours: 11:30am - 9:30pm, daily (Friday, 11:30am -10pm; Saturday, 9am - 10:30pm; Sunday, 9am - 9:30pm
  • Happy Hours: 3-7pm, Monday to Friday
  • Prices: Smoked salmon crostini, $15; lamb sausage $16; cheeseboard, $20; six oysters, $24; petite filet mignons, $40; seafood towers, $64 to $199;
  • Happy Hour Prices: House bread and tapenade, $4; truffle fries, $8; kale salad, $10; smoked salmon crostini, $10; ceviche tostada, $10; roasted cauliflower, $10; Brussels sprouts, $10; two Parc sliders, $10; calamari fritti, $12; steamed mussels, $16; six oysters, $20; cheeseboard, $14
  • Buses: 3, 120
  • Nearest Bus Stops: 5th and Nutmeg (#3); 5th and Laurel (#120)
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