Co-owners James Mowbray and Paul Kalberer began running Forest Mushroom Chicken as a special while the pair worked as general manager and executive chef respectively at the now-defunct Mountain Jack’s in North Olmsted during the late 1990s. The dish proved equally popular with patrons of subsequent restaurants where the men worked together. So they decided to offer it as a dinner entree when they opened Parker’s Grille & Tavern’s Avon Lake location in July 2013. It’s been on the menu ever since — “a staple item that will be there forever,” according to Mowbray.
“It’s got great flavors, a great seasoning profile to it,” he says when asked to explain its appeal. “And it’s enough to take home for the next day.”
The two grilled chicken breasts. Parker’s uses an all-natural, free-range chicken raised on a southern Ohio farm without the hormones that yield a tougher bird. And its diet includes everything a wild counterpart might find in a field, in turn improving its flavor. “It’s a fantastic product,” Mowbray raves.
The peppercorn sauce. The sauce — served underneath the chicken breasts — is prepared by first sauteing shallots in butter, then adding whiskey, au jus, heavy cream and green peppercorns in brine. The shallots add some sweetness, the whiskey a hint of its distinct flavor and aroma, the au jus body and the heavy cream a silky texture. The green peppercorns, Mowbray notes, are then strained from the sauce. “They’re just adding a nice, peppery flavor to it, but not hot to the taste or burning on the tongue,” he says.
The wild mushrooms. The peppercorn sauce incorporates a blend of sliced button, portobello, cremini and shitake mushrooms mixed in-house and sauteed in butter, along with the aforementioned shallots. The cremini mushrooms provide a measure of sweetness, the denser shitake a nuttiness, the meaty portobello a smoky earthiness and the buttons yet another texture. “They’re different in size, they’re different in shape,” Mowbray says — traits that add visual interest.
The mashed cauliflower. This rich side is made by poaching cauliflower until tender, then adding butter, cream and cream cheese. Although the result has a consistency and texture similar to those of mashed potatoes, it isn’t a replacement for them. “It tastes like cauliflower,” Mowbray stresses.
$16, 32858 Walker Road, Avon Lake, 440-933-9400, parkersgrilleandtavern.com