For the past five years, Tasha Garcia Gibson and Julie Taras Wallach’s first restaurant, Little Giant, has lured hungry hoards to Broome Street with the promise of chicken liver mousse, deviled eggs, and lots and lots of pork. Later this month, Garcia Gibson and Taras Wallach will bring their comfort-oriented cuisine and homespun-hip aesthetic to Chelsea when they open Tipsy Parson, a restaurant that takes its name from a liquor-soaked cake popular in the South. Garcia Gibson talked with Fork in the Road about what to expect at the restaurant (pimento cheese, frozen mint juleps), the agonies of red tape, and the joys of deep-frying.
Do you have a firm opening date yet?
There’s no precise date — it’s looking more like the last week of September. We signed our lease last August and took possession of the space in mid-October, and then construction began in mid-January.
These things always seem to take longer than anyone expects them to.
There’s so many factors. Every city agency has slowed down tremendously. [Some people] attribute it to the building department: There have been so few new construction starts in the city, and to legitimize their jobs, a lot of inspectors will slow things down, find a lot of violations they wouldn’t have in the past. They’re trying to preserve their job security. I understand that, I just wish it wasn’t the case. Everyone’s making sure to dot extra i’s and cross their t’s.
Now that the restaurant’s nearly finished, what’s the menu going to look like?
It’s going to be American regional with a little bit of emphasis on Southern regional classics. It’s things you crave from childhood but with a more upscale, refined style. If your mom made it will Velveeta, we’ll make it with Grafton cheddar.
Will it be similar to the menu at Little Giant?
The mac and cheese and biscuit are the only things we’ll have from Little Giant. Decor- and menu-wise, we’ll have a little more fun. We have an all-gas kitchen here; at Little Giant we had induction burners. So there will be a lot of boiling, grilling, and frying. We’re dying to fry — we’ve got a list of all the things we can throw in a fryer, like beignets, doughnuts, and hush puppies. We also may try pickles, and we’re definitely going to have nods to my Mexican heritage — like on the brunch menu, there’ll be a Mexican-style chorizo. We’ll also have pimento cheese, which is from my family’s beach tradition. And I know Jules is dying to get a chicken and dumpling dish from her grandma’s recipe file.
How’d you decide to open a second restaurant?
We had been wanting to open a new place for a little bit. We’d sort of hit a place with Little Giant where we had a fantastic staff, everyone was doing their job at a high level, and what could we do? There were no fires to put out anymore. Another restaurant seemed like a natural progression for us. We wanted to stay within the comfort zone of American seasonal but put a little twist on it, not do the exact same thing. Julie’s brother, who was in architecture school at the time, had a huge hand in the look of the room at Little Giant; he’s since moved on to bigger and better projects. (laughs) This is a little homier and cozier, and has a very residential feeling.
How big is the restaurant?
It will seat around 70. And there’s a bar, too — we just got approved for a liquor license on Friday. We’re going to have frozen mint juleps that will change seasonally — there’ll be peach and different berry variations, maybe persimmon. And there will be a wine list and some nods to Southern classics.
And will pork be as much of a fixture at Tipsy Parson as it is at Little Giant?
We never intended to put a total emphasis on it at Little Giant. We want to be versatile. But yes, there will be pig. There will always be pig.