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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.