Here’s my latest review at Carpe Durham!
Numerous excursions to Bright Leaf Square and Morgan Imports had left me curious about Parker and Otis, whose shabby chic exterior is fully visible from the parking lot. I did not have the pleasure of dining there until lunch on a Tuesday, however, and I am wondering why I did not explore it sooner.
Parker and Otis is reminiscent of Fosters in that they provide sandwiches and salads within the setting of a gourmet food market. However, Parker and Otis’ selection of foods for purchase is far superior to Foster’s: rows of hard-to-find candies and licorices, lots of mixes, cook books, jars of preserves and jams, etc. I didn’t spend as much time wandering the foodie store as I should have, but then again I am trying to watch the budget and, therefore, trying to avoid temptation.
The feed-me part of the establishment does breakfast and lunch and serves food until 8:00 in the evening. There is also a coffee shop section for those of you who crave the sacred bean. You can eat inside among the rows of purchasable goodies or outside on a really cute, semi-industrial patio with a lovely wooden floor and rusty fans decorating the the railing. Since this past Tuesday provided a gorgeous break from the summer heat, my two lunchmates and I opted to eat outside. The place was fairly hopping around noon with downtown worker types and presumable students with laptops and piles of paper.
You order your food at the counter, give the person your name, and then take a seat and chill until you are called. My lunchmates, AL and HG, decided our name should be “Hungry,” because we were, and so we were pleased when our name was called.
AL had the grilled pimento cheese sandwich with tomato on sourdough ($5.99 plus .$.50 for the tomato). The pimento was really delicious and artery-clogging in the best way, with tons of sharp, fresh cheddar cheese. The tomato brought a good crunch and freshness to the otherwise extremely heavy (but delicious!) sandwich.
HG had the Black Forest ham and Swiss panino with honey mustard on sourdough ($7.99). HG raved about the sandwich and the tangy, vinegary and (most importantly) not-too-mayonnaisey cole slaw with which all the sandwiches are served. You can substitute another side, such as the summery looking corn and tomato salad, for two dollars extra.
Since a dead cell phone and job search woes on Monday had caused an instance of eating my feelings via an entire slice of red velvet cake, I decided that my body needed to recover in the form of copious vegetables. Thus I resisted other tempting sandwich possibilities such as an excellent looking curried chicken salad sandwich and a tomato, mozzarella, and basil sandwich on fontina and went with the totally healthy white bean spread with avocado, red onion, tomato, and sprouts on sunflower bread ($6.99). The sandwich was extremely fresh and healthy tasting, the veggies were all incredibly crunchy, but I would have preferred a little more of the hummus-like bean spread, whose taste got lost within the barrage of verdant goodness.
AL and I split a crisp that we thought was peach and raspberry but turned out to be just peach ($3.75 for a small serving), which wasn’t problematic. Heavy on the fruit, light on the crisp, this was one of those semi guilt-free desserts that could have been exponentially improved by a scoop of vanilla ice cream–which Parker and Otis, sadly, did not have. The crisp was still yummy, mind you, but I feel that everything is better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Why no a la mode, Parker and Otis?
Ice cream absence aside, Parker and Otis is one of those places where I’d love to chill with a book, frequent for lunch, or shop for foodie gifts. An excellent choice for lunch if you’re doing any shopping in the Bright Leaf area.
112 S. Duke Street
Durham, NC 27701