Dallas has its share of places like Grace—handsome, highly mounted restaurants charging premium prices for food with creative leanings and $50 and up for a bottle of wine. But for Fort Worth, Grace is a big deal. Located downtown, it has become a pick for business meals, in-law dinners, and cocktails after work. Maybe that’s why Fort Worthians tolerate its eccentricities, starting with service. Staffers busily straighten your fork and top off your wine glass but suffer a tin-headedness that reveals their lack of experience. If, for example, you return the “house-made tater tots” because they’re burnt and dry, don’t expect the server to remove them from your check; it never crosses her mind.

There is a touch of Dallas in chef Blaine Staniford, who came to Grace after leaving Fuse and Scene in downtown Dallas last year. Staniford has exciting ideas, and when he hits it right, it’s a slam dunk. His crispy fried oysters with baby spinach were delectable: crunchy on the outside, melting on the inside, good and hot. Beef was grass-fed from Meyer Ranch, with its unique lean flavor and texture. Rack of lamb came with cauliflower puree and golden raisins—innovative for a side dish. Fried green tomatoes were marvelously thick with a light cornmeal crust. But pastas such as shrimp ravioli were poorly assembled, and his execution didn’t always match his ideas. He’s still not consistent; maybe that’s okay for Fort Worth.

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