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Dessert starts with pie, part of a small local renaissance for a particularly beloved corner of the baking arts. It’s easy to see why Olson embraces piemaking: She demonstrates an instinctive feel for filling out a pie tin. The formula changes weekly, if not more frequently, and she clearly has a knack for turning out sturdy yet flaky crusts.
Then there’s the snowy white soft-serve ice cream. It’s nothing fancy, just a basic factory-made mix, but it’s first-rate, with a clean vanilla bite. It’s also the featured attraction in a fun-loving series of boozy milkshakes (I instantly added another 5 percent to my server’s tip when she admitted, sotto voce, that “Those adult malts are my favorite desserts”), but like the best-of-all-possible-Dairy Queens (minus the cone), it’s also served straight up. Usually, anyway; adding a shot of espresso only underscores how great it would be if Olson conjured up a few delicious sundae toppings.
The decent beignets do double duty, serving on both the dessert menu and as a cornerstone of the just-what-the-neighborhood-ordered breakfast, which also features a fabulously eggy pancake-popover hybrid and a carb-loading savory bread pudding. Good coffee, too.
A neighborhood asset
Sure, there were blips. Pasta is not one of the kitchen’s strengths. And while Korean-style pork short ribs sounded intriguing on paper, they arrived fatty and aggressively seasoned. Those kinds of imbalances are not infrequent: A teriyaki sauce, pooled under nibble-worthy ginger-chicken meatballs, was inedibly salty.
But Parker, a devoted East-Sider for more than a decade, has done a tremendous service for his restaurant-starved neighbors. Sure, his motivation might be enlightened self-interest; with assets like Ward 6, can increased property values be far behind?
But given the ever-present smile on his face, it’s safe to say that all of his obvious hard work is really a labor of love.
Follow Rick Nelson on Twitter: @RickNelsonStrib
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