Winchester, MA: Excellent Frisee aux Lardons at Parsons Table

Hub Grub

A weekly profile on a favorite New England dish.


Gotta hand it to the French for dreaming up a delicious salad made from breakfast food. [Photograph: Elizabeth Bomze]

You get lazy living in a city where there are dozens of really good restaurants within a few miles of your doorstep. To be worth the trek, food in the 'burbs needs to be pretty extraordinary, if not better than what you can get in your own neighborhood.

Parsons Table is one of the few restaurants in the Boston area that I think deserves that distinction. Both the food and the service are haute-cuisine-caliber with none of the usual fine-dining fuss. If you live in the Winchester area, it's your special-occasion neighborhood restaurant, but also the place you go for a relaxed evening out when you want eat really well and not shell out for city parking.

Chef/owner Chris Parsons is a seafood guy. (Before it was Parsons Table, this space was Parsons' upper-scale seafood restaurant called Catch. Realizing that what Winchester really needed was a solid neighborhood place, Parsons closed Catch to open this lower-key spot, and plans to reopen his flagship in the city.) And while the fish and shellfish preparations are always stellar—the salt-roasted clam appetizer is a holdover favorite from Catch—I've always been taken with the turf fare. Particularly the Warm Frisée Salad ($9).

Parsons Table isn't a French bistro, but this is as good a take on salade aux lardons as I've had anywhere, thanks to the two key factors that make or break simple dishes like this one: high-quality ingredients and flawless execution. The bacon, from North Country Smokehouse, is diced into meaty chunks and fried until it turns dark red and addictively chewy, while the two Maple Meadow Farm eggs are delicately fried sunny-side up so the yolks are just set (and the whites are neatly trimmed around the edges for good looks). Meanwhile, a bit of the reserved bacon fat is balanced with sherry vinegar to make a rich yet tart dressing that lightly glosses the bitter, ruffle-y frisée.

Parsons Table

34 Church Street, Winchester MA 02568 (map) 781-729-1040;