The restaurant space that has long been vacant in the Myriad Botanical Gardens opened today as Park House, under the ownership of Peter and Sherree Holloway. Chefs Jonathan Krell and Jeffrey Holloway are manning the stove of this family-friendly concept with views that must make even Vast envious.
The opening of Park House is the second part of a deal the Holloways struck to operate in the city’s most spectacular park. They opened Ice House, a burger stand, back in the fall for a brief run that will continue in March.
I was able to attend the last preview service at Park House on Tuesday. Joined by my wife Lori, chefs John Bennett and Kurt Fleischfresser and his wife Jayne, we sampled most of the menu. After that substantial feast, I can say with confidence this concept will quickly become one of the city’s most popular dining destinations.
First, you’ve got rock-solid ownership. Sherree is an avid and expert baker, so you know that the baked goods are always going to be excellent. Peter is a wine enthusiast of the highest degree. The list is impressive and has something to offer every kind of wine-drinker with bottles ranging from $13 to $89.
Second, you have an excellent lead chef in Jonathan Krell, who did a fantastic job during his time at Stella, leaving the menu in better shape than when he left it. Jeffrey Holloway, who is Peter and Sherree’s son, attended the Culinary Institute of America and oozes ambition and passion.
Finally, the setting is second to none in the city. Park House’s dining room is encased in glass, so the night-time view of the tubular botanical gardens and its revolving lights is breathtaking. For now, the view to the north is of ice skaters at the Devon rink.
And if those views aren’t enough, the view as you enter is of a hearth-style rotisserie filled with whole chickens in perpetual pirouette through a symphony of flame. Makes it really difficult not to order the chicken.
So, when the chance arrived that’s exactly what we did. But that wasn’t all. When we were seated, the table was topped with jars of house-made pickled vegetables, which were terrific. Pretty sure the two jars on our table were empty by the time we left. We also ordered Chicken & Waffle Fry Nachos, Grilled Artichoke and Spinach Dip, the Deviled Egg Flight and Park House Lump Crab Cake. We also tried the Baby Iceberg Wedge Salad, Mustard Seed Crusted Pork Tenderloin, Pasta Carbonara, Halibut Fish ‘n’ Chips, Pan-Seared Scottish Salmon and sides of Roasted Cauliflower, Roasted Brussels Sprouts (which were in the rotisserie with the chicken), Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding, Crushed Potatoes, House Rolls and season vegetables. For dessert we had Warm Cookies and Milk and a Hot Fudge Sundae.
We sampled roughly 19 of 37 available menu items and there wasn’t a clunker in the bunch. Keep in mind, this was a dry-run. We did have some feedback for them to consider, but nothing that would stop us from ordering anything we tried again.
The chicken was most in succulent as it appeared. The Halibut was clean and crisp, the Pasta Carbonara rich and creamy. The pork tenderloin was moist and tender with just enough kick from the mustard seed crust and the salmon flaky and flavorful.
The Deviled Eggs came in a set of four: one stuffed as you’d expect, one with pesto and mascarpone, one with house-cured bacon and blue cheese, and one with lump crab and goat cheese. My favorite was the pesto mascarpone. Or maybe the blue cheese and bacon. Hmm, have to go back and try them again to make sure.
I picture the mountainous Chicken and Waffle Fry Nachos placed every two or threes seats at the arc-shaped bar following Thunder games. The grilled artichoke dip came with highly addictive pita chips and the crab cake came with a frisee salad that was perhaps the most pret-a-porter item we sampled. I immediately pictured it heaped on a fish taco on some future lunch special.
The desserts were more fun than spectacular, which families will appreciate. The crowd-pleasing Warm Cookies and Milk hearken to the unadulterated joy of cookies fresh from mom’s oven with cold milk served like a milkshake. The Hot Fudge Sundae to Share was a trip back to Farrell’s or Swenson’s Ice Cream Parlors.
I’ll eat a number of more meals at Park House in order to offer a more detailed story in January with video and a look inside this gorgeous space.
In the meantime, if you dine at Park House be sure to give them feedback. As I mentioned with KD’s, the concept is new and the kitchen needs your help to find their cruising speed. And if service lags, be sure to let management know. In the end, your dining experience — good or bad — is the data they need to operate at maximum efficiency.
The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays. Pete Holloway told me they intend to keep the bar open a little later after Thunder games.
If you make it out to Park House, let me know what you thought as I, too, am still gathering data.