By Dr. Ink
Several months after the abrupt closing of Croce’s Park West last year, restaurateur Garo Minassian moved in to open Parc Bistro-Brasserie in its place.
The Montreal native, who previously operated Harry’s Bar and American Grill in La Jolla, transformed the space into a Parisian-style lounge in the front, and a white-linen dining room in the back. The redesign carries an airy feel with unmistakable European charm.
Globe lighting and white walls accented with classic molding set the stage for happy hour, which is offered twice daily in the bar area from late afternoon to early evening, and then resuming after the dinner rush until closing.
Patrons can seize the price breaks on international wines by the glass, craft cocktails, select craft beer and nearly two dozen food items while lounging at marble-top café tables and high tops.
The section also encompasses the large, handsome bar left behind by Croce’s, which still attracts a mature and neatly dressed crowd.
The wine I chose, Bonpas Syrah-Grenache from France’s southern Rhone region, was medium-bodied and offered distinct tannins on the finish — exactly what I expected from this varietal blend.
Priced during happy hour at only $6 for a sturdy pour, it’s the kind of vino you can drink all night or pair with a solid French meal of coq au vin or beef bourguignon.
I drank it with French onion soup ($7), an item on the discounted food menu that also includes escargot, cheddar sliders with pomme frites, smoked salmon rillettes, and a tempting croque Monsieur sandwich I spied upon when served to a patron at the bar.
The soup’s beefy base, accented with bay leaf, matched swimmingly to the soft bite of the wine. So did the heavily toasted mantle of gooey Gruyere cheese which, unlike places that skimp on the final step of broiling, was melted all the way through.
Service was attentively French, with apron-clad food runners donning white shirts and neckties and delivering dishes in a no-nonsense manner.
My waitress, however, was a little less poised and mistakenly charged me for food and drinks ordered by another table.
Though when the bill was corrected, I came away paying a mere $12.50 for wine and a nosh that coddled my inner Francophile.
Despite a short wine list during happy hour, the choices globetrot through several countries such as France, Italy, New Zealand and Argentina. In addition, five cocktails using infused liquors and crafty mixers are in the offing.
More than 15 menu items are discounted, many of them French-inspired such as smoked salmon rillettes, escargot, and a Croque Monsieur sandwich. The onion soup au gratin crowned with toasted Gruyere was savory and warming.
Most drinks and food items drop in price by $2, and the wine pours are fairly generous.
The waitress was efficient until accidentally billing me for charges racked up from a nearby table.
A roomy lounge with café tables and high tops in the front flows into an elegant dining room marked by white table linens and soft globe lighting. The bar is big and inviting, and feature purse/umbrella hooks in front of each stool.
Sara is the editor of San Diego Uptown News.