Wine lovers have another reason to raise a glass: Parker’s Table is back and it’s bigger and better than ever. When the wine and food shop closed its Clayton doors three years ago, a collective whimper could be heard among our city’s oenophiles, particularly those with a penchant for Italian vintages. Now Jonathan Parker (who happens to have spent a brief few months as assistant winemaker at Mount Pleasant Winery) has re-opened his shop. “The community of friends and cooks that came to the Clayton store is finding their way back,” says Parker. “People are remarking that [the new space] feels like a brighter, more nostalgic version of the old place.”
How is the new Parker’s Table like the old one? Most of the fixtures and that we had built and accumulated over the 15 years we were in Clayton were in a tractor trailer for three years. Opening that trailer last fall was like unsealing a time capsule. Wood furniture that aged along with me at the old location is back in service again. The wine room and slate floor we put into the old store came with me. The wine room is back up, but I haven't found time to get the floor down yet.
How is the new place different? No. 1, space. We have space to carry a balanced depth of inventory that wasn’t possible before. We have room to host better tasting events, too. No. 2, access. Customers used to tell me they had driven around the block twice before finding a place to park at the old location. Any day of the week, any time of the day, customers can get a spot right outside the door at Oakland and Yale avenues.
And you’re selling more than wine, beer and spirits. Right, the pastas are in now. We have a larger area devoted to tea and coffee. Most of the olive oils and vinegars are back and we have some ideas that will roll out at intervals through the next couple of years.
What do you wish people knew about wine? How easy it is.
How would you characterize Missouri wine? The Little Engine That Could. The years of effort and ingenuity that so many Missouri winemakers have put into making quality wines are really impressive. I tend toward winemakers making wines that are unique to Missouri, rather than those trying to be like California.
What are your top picks if someone is seeking out a local wine to try? Bethlehem Valley Chardonel and Norton are both outstanding.
What’s in your fridge at home? My daughter, Clara, has been on a pasta puttanesca kick, so we have a big bowl of her enthusiastic effort. We have about six gallons of milk and that seems to work out right for two teenagers. Plus, a mixed assortment of beers that I need to taste.
Favorite junk food? When I was growing up in Tennessee, my grandfather would take us to little wood-frame grocery stores at places like Four Corners or Beech Grove and buy us Nutty Buddies. Since moving to St. Louis, I’ve graduated to Ronnie’s Rocky Mountain Drumsticks, but it’s hard to call that junk food.
Favorite cheap drink? Well water. Growing up where I did, lots of people had water wells. Depending on the location, different wells draw different tasting water.
Go-to bottle to take to a dinner party? For a white wine, Felici Verdicchio from the Marches in Italy. For a red, Sunset Ridge Petit Sirah from Paso Robles on California’s central coast.
What would be your last meal? So many options! Why can’t I have nine lives? My revert-to-childhood choice would be: sliced tomatoes with a little salt, baked scalloped potatoes in butter, boiled sweet corn, spinach salad and a roast cooked in herbs and dark cherry concentrate … and fried chicken. Why not? It’s my last meal!
Parker’s Table, 7118 Oakland Ave., Richmond Heights, 314.645.2050, parkerstable.com