If you’ve lived in New Hampshire for at least 15 years (as we have) and still haven’t visited Parker’s Maple Barn Restaurant, we suggest you do. Visiting on a balmy day in mid-October is also a smart move. This rustic eatery nestled in Mason, NH definitely falls under the category of “Destination Restaurant.” A mile-long winding road was raining autumn leaves and pine needles in full sunshine, and brought us abruptly to Parker’s. As Dee said, “you know that you’ve arrived.”
Authentic in its rustic vibe, Parker’s has created an outdoor waiting experience that is part aromatherapy (the maple hits you as soon as you open the car door), charming, whimsical and relaxing. The restaurant, gift shop, outdoor coffee bar, and multiple woodsy seating areas make for an eye-catching exterior. Plentiful parking, including a spillover lot across the street let us know that Parker’s was established and popular. We arrived at noon on a Sunday and there was a 1.5 hour wait (no reservations). We had anticipated this and so should you. Breakfast is served all day, so act like royalty and order what you desire no matter the time.
After a 90 minute wait, we were immediately rewarded with a generous hot beverage service. The good coffee (according to Lisa) was placed on our table in a carafe – no waiting for refills! If you are a tea drinker, like Dee, you can expect a carafe of hot water, and a tea chest with plenty of regular and herbal choices. We received quick service from a friendly, seasoned (and clearly exhausted) waitress. The food was worth the wait – it was a concise menu with many original temptations.
As the name suggests, the restaurant is a large barn-like building decorated with wooden signs and whimsical folk art. There are plenty of rustic outdoor seating options (tree stumps, stone benches) while you wait for your table. But it isn’t autumn in New England if yellow jackets haven’t crashed the party. They chased us out of a covered bridge (another seating option that is no doubt packed when it’s raining), down a path and into the kitschy gift shop. We took a quick look, but opted to enjoy the fresh air and expansive grounds instead.
If you are “hangry”, DO NOT sit in the restaurant’s indoor waiting area. With so many customers, the barn-style door opens and closes with jarring frequency and almost everyone entering or exiting lets it slam shut. It will get on your nerves.
But let’s talk food! When out for brunch, my go-to dish is Eggs Benedict. My expectations are never high, mainly because Eggs Bennie is hard to mess up. Overcooked eggs are always the biggest disappointment, with rubbery ham and overly lemony Hollandaise tied for second. But when our waitress put down my plate, I marveled at how picture-perfect they looked. Honestly, look at this!
Perfectly poached orbs enrobed in a glistening, sunny sauce. Big points for providing a steak knife; this was a first. I have never understood how restaurants think it’s easy to cut through ham and English muffins with a butter knife.
And for the first time ever, I experienced that perfect Eggs Bennie bite. First silky and creamy, followed by salty and tender, and finally gooey and chewy. Heavenly. The home fries weren’t bad, either. But the side of bacon was just okay. I know there’s no such thing as bad bacon (except bad for you), but I think they are missing a great opportunity to offer a maple-candied option, since it’s all the rage these days.
Have you ever been offered “Breakfast Appetizers?” Me neither. How fun! I mean Deep-Fried Blueberry Bites? We might do this on our next visit, but at 1:30 we were in the mood for a lunch appetizer–Spicy Maple Chicken Tenders. The five oversized tenders were amazing. Like something you would get in a great urban Asian restaurant–very lightly breaded, subtly sweet and spicy, and truly tender. One of the lucky Gertz Girlz got to take some home for midnight snakz.
There were some seasonal specials that sounded incredible and involved pumpkin and cream cheese, but I ordered the Maple Ribs with Eggs Any Style, Home Fries and Toast. I hit on the ribs first. Wow! No sticky bbq-like sauce – just pure delicate maple flavor on tender pork that practically jumped off the bone. A little shout out to the whole wheat toast – it was extra thick and flavorful and a great vehicle for the perfectly cooked over-easy egg yolks.
I guess beverages are important to the Gertz Girlz! The waitress kept refilling my ice water which scores points with me, as one of my nicknames is “The Camel.” I was really excited to see a Thanksgiving Sandwich on the menu as it’s one of my favorite meals. It was fantastic and stacked with juicy, roasted turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. I was just a little disappointed by the appetizer plates (kinda chintzy). Food this good deserves to be served on fancier dishes!! (Side note: The other Gertz Girlz didn’t realize until now that Eva is a bit of a dish snob!)
Gertz Girlz Final Dish:
Between the “forest bathing” we did beforehand, and the wonderful dining experience we had afterward, the Gertz Girlz are so glad we made the drive to this unique New Hampshire establishment! Dee bought a beautifully decorated tin of Parker’s maple syrup for $11 and she and her husband enjoyed it on French Toast last night. It was divine. And if you visit between March and mid-April, treat yourself to a tour of the Sugar House while you wait to be seated.