I had never been to Purple Parrot in any capacity, and I’ve been missing out. Chef Jeremy Noffke and General Manager Dusty Frierson have created a brunch experience that is special and has a uniquely Mississippi feel. To complement the high-quality food they had for us, we were also treated to the soft Jazz stylings of a couple of local musicians. The entire restaurant felt warm and inviting as we set out on our latest culinary adventure.
This month’s meeting of the minds (and mouths) was extra special because my wife, Emily, and two-month-old son, Calvin, joined us. We’re still new to the concept of going places with our son and were nervous about whether or not it would be appropriate to bring him along to such a fine restaurant, but our server, Bryce, was fantastic and kind and made sure Calvin was as comfortable as the rest of our group.
We all started off with mimosas, of course (Calvin stuck with formula). I think I read somewhere before that mimosas with brunch are required by law, and luckily bottomless mimosas come at an incredibly reasonable price at the Parrot. Allison bucked tradition a little by switching out orange juice and replacing it with cranberry juice. I’d never seen that done before – and I’m still waiting to hear from my lawyer if that is legally acceptable – but I was jealous. Jamie ordered a Bloody Mary and got to experience the Parrot’s wonderful Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary bar, complete with beautiful pickled vegetables, olives, and all sorts of hot sauces. We were off to a good start.
SOUP TO NUTS
The Parrot’s brunch offerings are laid out buffet style, but before we started down that path, Bryce suggested for us to first try their soups. There are three options available, and all of them were top notch. I had the Seafood Gumbo, while Emily, Allison and Jamie had the Lump Crab and Corn Bisque. Brittany – not much of a fan of seafood – went with the Gumbo Yaya, a gumbo made with delicious sausage and tender chicken. I’ve always considered myself somewhat of a gumbo aficionado, and anytime I see seafood gumbo on a restaurant’s menu, I make sure to give it a try. Yes, that includes Long John Silver’s. No, I don’t recommend theirs, but I would absolutely recommend the Parrot’s. The spices in the gumbo were so well-balanced that it would make Chef Paul Prudhomme want to go back to culinary school. They don’t hold back on the lump crab in the bisque and it certainly hits the spot. I took down my gumbo faster than anyone else and was ready to check out the buffet.
BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS
My first plate ran the gamut with a Caesar salad, cinnamon rolls, roasted asparagus, Brussels sprouts, crabcakes with seafood remoulade sauce, and a hearty helping of Shrimp and Grits. The others in our group did a much better job focusing on specific areas of the menu. Brittany started out with a selection of fresh-cut fruit and more traditional breakfast foods, including Belgian waffles and hashbrowns.
Now, most of my plate goes together pretty well, other than perhaps the cinnamon roll. “Cinnamon rolls and crab cakes?” I can hear you muttering to yourself, but when the two are of this high of a quality, it doesn’t matter. I would have eaten those cinnamon rolls next to a filet mignon. I would have devoured the crab cakes next to a bowl of mint ice cream. Not to mention, there’s just something about a good cinnamon roll that tugs on my heartstrings. When I saw the buffet featured miniature cinnamon rolls, I knew immediately I was going to eat way too many of them, and I did. Each of the three plates I made for myself had at least two of the little guys on there. One of them had four.
OMELETS, CRAB CAKES & CARVINGS, OH MY
The omelet station had every option you could ever want. For the seafood lovers, they offer shrimp and crabmeat. They’ve got ham, bacon, and andouille for the more carnivorous of us. You can add peppers, onions, tomatoes, Shiitake mushrooms, and Pico de Gallo, and round the whole thing out with sour cream and three different types of cheese. If you’re like Jamie or myself, you just tell the capable chef to give you a little of everything, and soon you have a perfectly-cooked omelet bursting with spicy pepperjack cheese and savory seafood and vegetables.
Directly across from the omelet station there is an Eggs Benedict station, where you can get a traditional Eggs Benedict or get creative with options that fit your exact tastes. Allison had the great idea of using a crabcake instead of the English muffin for a dish that anyone making the trip out to this spectacular brunch just has to try. The shrimp and squash casserole was so good that Brittany – who typically never eats anything containing seafood – made sure to get a serving.
Moving along, one of the Parrot’s talented cooks carves generous portions of a gorgeous pork loin, with a muscadine glaze available to top each masterfully roasted slice. The tart sweetness of the glaze played so well with the savory roasted pork that it practically melted in your mouth when you took a bite. All five of us went back for seconds at this station.
FINISHING IT OFF IN STYLE
Working in the food industry for the last 15 years, brunch was most often an event that I have worked rather than attended. Somehow, despite all of the top-notch foods we had eaten throughout our hour-and-a-half stay at the Purple Parrot, the best was still yet to come. Included in the brunch buffet is a slice of a decadent white chocolate bread pudding with a raspberry sauce. The consistency of the pudding was so moist that it closely resembled a flan. The white chocolate drizzle and raspberry sauce are what I imagine come out of the water fountains in heaven.
All in all, the Sunday Jazz Brunch at the Purple Parrot is one of my favorite dining experiences that I've had this year. There was not one single item I regretted getting, nor did I fail to finish any of the three buffet plates I filled up. Without a doubt, we'll be going back. We hope to see you all there when we do.
TOP CHEF Q&A
Purple Parrot Café
Monique Hoard, works as the Sous Chef at Purple Parrot Café and has been working with new South Restaurant Group for 15 years. By day, you can find her helping in the preparation and design of all the food menus. By night, she ensures the kitchen operates in a timely way .
What’s your favorite type of music to listen to when cooking?
If you could cook for anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
What’s your favorite ethnic cuisine?
What’s the strangest request you’ve ever had from a diner?
Nothing is strange when it comes to food.
What’s the best part about being a chef?
Everyday is a new and challenging experience.
What’s the best part about being a chef?
Developing friendships with people only to have to then discipline them.
What’s your favorite “guilty pleasure”?
Sweet or Spicy?
Beer or Wine?
Red beans or gumbo?