Brunch at P17 Is Still Unparalleled, If Less Exotic
On the morning after Halloween, my friends and I had three requirements for brunch: somewhere that served alcohol (in quantity), somewhere with elevated dishes but where we could get away with wearing yoga pants and last night's makeup, and somewhere we could walk right in with no wait at whatever hour we finally dragged ourselves out of our beds. The third being the most critical, P17 filled the bill.
The "One Eyed Franklin"
I hadn't been to P17 since it's re-branding from Parallel 17 and was excited to check it out. A lot less Asian in décor and menu, it's a true bistro now with many of the unique Vietnamese influences and most of the small plates notably gone, replaced with a French twist on more traditional breakfast items. I have to admit I was a little disappointed with the change, as I do love anywhere you can get a banh mi and spring rolls before noon, and I worried that it would be like every other continental breakfast in town. But wanting to give them the benefit of the doubt, I tried to go in with an open mind.
The "Lafonda" open-faced sandwich
Located on a happening corner of Uptown just two doors down from Olive & Finch, owner Mary Nguyen's counter-service bakery and cafe, P17 has a pleasing ambiance, a good patio and a visually appealing interior, but with a few oddities. Excited the dining room was half-empty so we could sprawl out in a booth, we were soon fighting over the more comfortable chairs because the table seemed too low for the bench -- I'm really short and my knees were almost hitting.
Desperately craving a Bloody Mary, I started out with the house blend, but decided it was a little thin and peppery for my taste, so switched instead -- with nothing but graciousness from the server -- to plain tomato juice to hydrate. The new beverage was perfectly chilled and actually hit the spot. My roommate got a delicious glass of the white sangria (also available by the carafe for $12). Bottomless mimosas are on the menu for $15 with the purchase of an entrée or by the carafe for $12.
Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon and caper relish.
Gone is the bottomless pho bowl Parallel 17's brunch was known for, but you can still get a bowl in one size only, with vegetables or beef and vegetables (but not the signature oxtail). I opted for a new fall menu item, the "One Eyed Franklin," a mix of scrambled eggs, mornay, and swiss cheese served in a puff pastry shell with a choice of seasonal veggies or ham. I talked them into making mine with both since I needed sustenance. Deliciously cheesy, the dish was hearty and beautifully presented, a French onion soup of breakfast, if you will. Tara had the "Lafonda," an open-faced breakfast sandwich that included solidly prepped bacon (not too crunchy or too mushy), creamy avocado, Boston lettuce, tomato confit, a fried egg, and mustard aioli on just the right amount of brioche (meaning that there was no top half to remove). Roomie decided to forgo her gluten-freeness for the day and went with something more filling (it was post-Halloween, after all) Her order of house-smoked salmon benedict with dill béarnaise and caper relish, was good, but I'm not a caper fan -- I find them too salty. Still, the dish sopped up the previous night's alcohol quite well.
We were all impressed with the sides: perfectly seasoned home fries (I usually prefer shredded hash browns to cubes, but these were quite addictive) and a simple frisee salad, showing attention to detail in its ingredients. While P17 is lacking some of the exotic flair of the original Parallel 17, brunch is still solid, and with no wait, it should definitely be one to add to your hit list if you're dying for well-edited food -- stat.
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