At the edge of downtown, situated in the same esteemed district as Strings and Pasquini’s, sits Parallel 17. Its “restaurant-on-the-corner” appeal pairs well with a welcoming interior; contemporary furniture flanks a lengthy bar, while petite tables run along the interior of the restaurant. If going to Parallel 17 for the food and not the alcohol, be prepared for seasonal menus and the meticulous pairing of dishes by course. The wait staff, unobtrusive and knowledgeable, will gladly offer in-depth descriptions of menu items, suggestions for flavor combinations, and alcoholic complements to the food.
One of the greatest things about Parallel 17 is the value; menu prices are reasonable and portion sizes admirably couple with quality to ensure satisfaction. Servers will recommend choosing a handful of dishes to make the meal complete, but an appetizer and entrée are more than sufficient.
Culinarily-speaking, Parallel 17 re-invents unoriginal Asian fusion cuisine that too often lacks panache. Panko-breaded soft-shelled crab, for example, is served in an unlikely, but undoubtedly flavorful, miso broth. Sweet potato string fries are a favorite starter, served with an Asian remoulade (hints of fish sauce make the side a unique twist on the traditional sauce).
Other tantalizing menu items include a deconstructed Vietnamese Po-boy, braised duck breast with whipped sweet potatoes, and a selection of phô-esque noodle bowls.
Is there a downside to Parallel 17? To be sure. The seating for serious diners is not only uncomfortable, but cramped. While the art nouveau décor works for visual appeal, comfort seems sacrificed and privacy forgotten. Nonetheless, an enticing and flavorful menu make Parallel 17 a necessary destination for Denver foodies, as well as the seasonal visitor.