Duroc Pork with Vanilla Roasted Fennel and Pickled Sweet Peppers. All photos by Kim Duffy.

A Sneak Peek at Grace’s New Spring Menu

Executive chef Blaine Staniford and crew have put together a selection of dishes that are truly diverse.

I recently previewed Grace’s diverse spring menu. Executive chef Blaine Staniford and crew have put together a selection of dishes that are truly diverse.

Executive Chef Blaine Staniford.
Executive Chef Blaine Staniford.
Bret Redman

I recommend beginning with the white asparagus soup, which is slowly poured tableside atop butter-poached rock shrimp, morel mushrooms, English peas and ricotta ($11). It proved light but indulgent. White asparagus achieves its color, or lack thereof, by remaining underground as opposed to its green brethren who are exposed to sunlight. The taste is a milder and its texture a bit more tender, which allows the components at the bottom of the bowl to be savored while providing subtle undertones of familiarity.

Ocean Trout Tartare with Avocado, Yuzu, Serrano and Smoked Roe.
Ocean Trout Tartare with Avocado, Yuzu, Serrano and Smoked Roe.
Bret Redman

Follow with the ocean trout tartare ($18). The color and flavor is near that of salmon, but more subtle. The dish is served atop a modern glass rectangular dish and topped with diced avocado, fennel, yuzu, serrano chili and smoked roe. Pair with a Blanc de Blanc, my favorites being the 2011 Schramsberg from Calistoga, CA and the 2005 Paul Goerg from Champagne, France.

Basil Fed Escargot with Lardo, Spring Mushrooms and Toasted Brioche.
Basil Fed Escargot with Lardo, Spring Mushrooms and Toasted Brioche.
Bret Redman

The basil-fed escargot ($17) which my fiancé required is one of the most unique dishes I’ve enjoyed this year. Sourced from an uber-specialized snail farmer in the state of Washington, the preparation includes broccoli fondue, spring mushrooms, toasted brioche and, most importantly, three finely shaved strips of lardo. This untraditional, out-of-shell rendition was full of flavor. And it’s just so amusing to envision these soon-to-be succulent snails being handfed fresh basil with tiny forks, likely at a Parisian café (in my mind at least).

House Charcuterie with Pickled Vegetables, Mustard Seeds and Local Honey.
House Charcuterie with Pickled Vegetables, Mustard Seeds and Local Honey.
Bret Redman

For the table, Grace’s charcuterie board ($18) is comparable to that of Hibiscus in Dallas, which I consider to be DFW’s premiere offering. Prepared entirely in-house, this communal option showcases Blaine’s attention to detail (and patience) as he creates savory selections such as lonza, summer sausage, a pistachio-studded lamb mortadella, coppa, hazelnut-studed salumi, spanish style chorizo, Muscovy duck ham and speak featuring pork belly. Accoutrements include sweet and sour apricots, fresh pickled cauliflower, carrots, and bread & butter pickles, in addition to whole grain mustard and local honey. An additional $12 will allow you to select three artisan cheeses, all from small American purveyors. Pair with a light red of your choice, my preference being sparkling rose such as a 2012 Stemmler Vin Gris of Pinot Noir from Sonoma, CA.

Pasta is made in-house and there are a few selections which should not be shunned despite the warming weather. The rabbit tortellini ($33) is accompanied by baby artichokes, fava beans, Parmesan, and romanesco, which is warmed tableside by a broth made from rabbit stock. For the more adventurous patron I would suggest the lobster agnolotti with veal sweetbreads, snap peas and spring mushrooms ($41). I took to the latter, paired with a 2012 Stoller Family Estate Pinot Noir from the Dundee Hills region of Oregon. While I did not sample the third option, the English pea risotto with asparagus, house ricotta and rock shrimp ($29) looked very enticing.

Duroc Pork with Vanilla Roasted Fennel and Pickled Sweet Peppers.
Duroc Pork with Vanilla Roasted Fennel and Pickled Sweet Peppers.
Bret Redman

For those desiring a more substantial feature, I recommend the Duroc pork, served three ways. The cuts, including a braised jowl, a grilled neck and a pork/fennel sausage, atop a white bean puree, vanilla roasted fennel and pickled sweet peppers ($42).

Lobster Agnolotti with Veal Sweetbreads, Snap Peas and Morel Mushrooms.
Lobster Agnolotti with Veal Sweetbreads, Snap Peas and Morel Mushrooms.
Bret Redman

I rarely write about dessert, but the butterscotch pudding with dulce de leche, Marcona almonds and salted caramel gelato ($10) is worthy of reporting. Hitting multiple textural and flavor elements, I found the dish to be the perfect dessert for those averse to a super sweet sprint through the finish line. Pair with a peaty single malt, such as Lagavulin 16 year or lesser-known Japanese whiskey such as the Yamazaki 18 year.

The evolution of the cocktail and food menus at Grace as we enter the warm spring and summer months definitely warrants a visit, and earlier rather than later if you intend to enjoy coveted patio real estate.

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