I originally made plans to try out Tipsy Parson on Monday. Southern food plus multiple types of juleps (including a frozen one)? Definitely interested. The date for the opening got pushed back to Wednesday and so my friends and I pushed back our plans as well so we could head to Chelsea to see if Tipsy Parson was all it taunted it would be. I also saw they were accepting reservations online via Open Table and went ahead and put one in for us, just in case.
Arriving in, I liked the set up. There’s a cozy seating area of a few plush couches at the entrance before you encounter the bar to the right and some bar-front tables to your left. If you go back past the bar, there’s a second room of just dining tables. I believe the tables along the bar were being treated as bar seating, though it was difficult to tell. It was reasonably easy to find a spot at the bar at around 6pm. My friends would then join me (so we were eventually a party of three) and we were able to find three chairs altogether at the bar. No need for a table.
I was a bit disappointed that the much touted juleps were nowhere to be seen. After sitting a while trying to catch the attention of one of the bartenders, I finally learned the drink menus were being printed. About 15 minutes later I learned they weren’t going to be doing mixed drinks (aside from simple bar combinations). Apparently there was an issue with the machine for the frozen juleps and they just weren’t ready for the others. They said they should have everything up and running for juleps next week. They do have wine by the glass for $8-$11. If you’re going red, I definitely recommend the Primitivo over the Merlot!
There were so many options as to what to start with on their bar snacks menu, from fried pickles to pickled shrimp to cheese straws. Most ran from $5-$8. We went with the hushpuppies, which my friends had sadly never tried before. They were very well done. Not extremely greasy and just the right amount of scallions in the batter. They came served with a spicy remoulade for dipping. It was $7 for a plate of four hushpuppies. They also ended up bringing us out a plate of pickled veggies, which included okra, beets, mushrooms, and carrots. Having only ever really had well pickles, it was interesting to try the assortment. I’d never had pickled okra (fabulous) and I was particularly drawn to the pickled beets as it was a nice pairing of salty/sour with sweet.
For mains, I went with the sticky spicy lamb ribs. They were served atop black radish slaw and pickled red onions. I thought they sounded tasty enough to deal with the inevitable mess I’d have to face. However, I found the meat extremely tender and it fell right off of the bone. Ribs you can eat with a fork and knife? It might not be the norm to find that so fabulous, but I just love this. Best ribs I’ve had in a long time too. Nothing tough about this meat. The preview menus I’d seen online noted a sunchoke soup. It looks like they made a slight variation and instead currently are serving a Parsnip soup, which was served with pickled grapes, parsnip chips, and sorghum syrup. It was very good – not too salty. It was a thicker, creamier soup. Just right for the cooler temps on their way in.
For dessert, we’d initially eyed the bourbon-glazed sweet potato beignets online, but they did not seem to make it out on opening night. I went with the Tipsy Parson, appropriate I thought seeing as it is their namesake. And what is a Tipsy Parson? It’s almond cake, vanilla custard, brandied fruit, and toasted almonds. The fruit was subtle as was the brandy. Almond was the prevalent flavor of the dish. The vanilla custard was more of a fluffy crown to the dessert and they did not skimp on the toasted almonds. I highly recommend giving this a try.
One friend tried the Grasshopper, which was mint mousse, chocolate cookie crumbs, chocolate custard, and fresh whipped cream. It came served in a little glass container with a flip-back lid, sort of like a Yankee Candle. They served it with a small glass dish of additional chocolate cookie crumbs, so you could choose just how much cookie to add. She liked it but said it just tasted like mint chocolate ice cream. Perhaps another more Southern option for our next visit. I’ll definitely be back – next time it’s juleps and hopefully some beignets, if they come out and make an appearance.
Tipsy Parson – 156 Ninth Avenue (between W19/W20) – 212.620.4545