Parker’s Downtown gives local spin to comfort food in a hotel
Hotel restaurants have a challenge: Diners often are guests, and guests are transient. But when you are in the heart of downtown Cleveland, when you are a local restaurant offering more than just some pedestrian hotel dining experience, you have a challenge.
Parker’s Downtown is up to the challenge.
Located in the Kimpton Schofield Hotel at Euclid Avenue and East 9th Street, across from Heinen’s downtown, the restaurant’s menu combines Cleveland-centric comfort foods with fine dining in a vibrant setting. Its owners also operate Parker’s Grille & Tavern in Avon Lake.
Here’s our take on the downtown restaurant after several dining experiences:
How is the food?
There is something for everyone – steaks, chops, pasta, seafood. Apps tantalize with an array of different flavors: Smokiness emerges in the prosciutto- and basil-wrapped shrimp. The Loaded Potato Perogie waves the Cleveland flag, in a refined way: It’s blended with pistachios, cultured creme and roasted pear – the latter giving off a complimentary sweetness. Lamb Meatballs were a great nosh, with heat from the
Korean condiment gochujang. You can create a meal by a-la-carting several appetizer offerings.
Among the entrees:
- A star on the menu might be the simplest dish – mac and cheese. M and C is like a class in school: How much you apply yourself can determine the outcome. It’s simplistic and basic but easy to screw up (over or under cooking, using typical cheese, texture consistency, etc.). If you can make this at home you want something special at a restaurant. This leans on the thin side – which isn’t a bad thing – and is cooked perfectly with the decadent-tasting gruyere.
- Shrimp and grits is a common marriage on menus, this one coming with chorizo, pepper conserva, a 45-minute egg balanced on top and aged cheddar. I could have used the heat kicked up just a bit, but the saltiness and firm shrimp work well.
- A steak came in hearty and cooked to order, all 16 ounces of a 21-day aged ribeye, with mushrooms that fit the bill.
- Parisian Gnocchi merits a mixed grade: Accompanying flavors of rabe, the earthiness of mushroom and creaminess of parm double cream make this a very rich dish. The gnocchi was cooked almost to a mush which, actually, is better than undercooking this dense food. Though the remaining buttery / oil pool was a bit much.
Pub fries sounds so … pub-ish. But they are a tasty treat here: Firm, hearty potato wedges doused with just the right touch of bacon, scallions, goat cheese and Thousand Island dressing.
How friendly a place is it?
Hotels – especially those in downtown areas – can harbor a faux friendly feeling, or a business-like coldness. But Parker’s has a warmness to it – from bartenders who take the time to ask your name, who remain attentive, who welcome you. John at the bar on multiple trips remained conversational without forgetting his job. Our waiters on subsequent visits also kept a tableside attentiveness when needed but were never intrusive.
What about drinks – typical hotel bar?
At the sleek marbletop bar, more than half a dozen beers on tap are all local, except for Parker’s, a slightly tangy blonde. Platform Beer Co., Fat Head’s and other established local breweries have beer on draft.
How’s the ambiance?
You’ll hear everything and anything from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Downtown” to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Artistic images of the city hang throughout the space, which has a spacious window view of East 9th.
This is important: There is an East 9th valet available in front of Parker’s southbound, and also valet northbound at The Nine across the street. It’s $20, which will rival downtown garages on a Cavs, Indians or big-concert night. Show your dining receipt at the Kimpton hotel desk, and it’s discounted to $12. But the valet at The Nine will not honor the discount. Moral of the story: If you are driving north on East 9th and want the valet at Parker’s, leave enough time to try to find a way to circle back southbound, in the middle of downtown Cleveland. Or park on your own.
Any decadent splurge?
Caviar was priced at $130 an ounce when we were there.
Where: 2000 East Ninth St., downtown Cleveland.
Hours: Breakfast: 7-10:30 a.m. Monday-Friday. Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Brunch: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Dinner: 5-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday; 5-10 p.m. Sunday.
Prices: Appetizers, $7-$21; soups and salads, $8-$10; sides, $7; entrees, $15-$45; dessert, varies.
Credit cards: All major.
Cuisine: “Hearty Urban Fare.” That is – cosmopolitan American.
Accessibility: A step between the main dining area and hotel foyer, where the restrooms are. Decent space between tables.