DineLA Report: Grace
One word: Excellent.
The dineLA experience at Grace does not disappoint. Made reservation for 3 at 7:15 but only 2 of us could make it. They gave us no fuss, seated us immediately. The hostess took my coat for me.
They served us complementary sparkling water. They had additional options available for extra $10 charge such as hamachi for appetizer and wild boar for the entree.
I ordered one Grace Gimlet, which was okay. It got better at the bottom of the glass, not too sure if it's because it wasn't well mixed or just because I was more intoxicated towards the bottom.
I got the spinach and arugula salad bcs I needed some greens. The salad was simple, yet very well done. Goat cheese was yummy.
The other person got the Shrimp Cavatelli, which was very yummy, but the portion was much smaller than the salad.
I didn't dig the peas too much but everything else in the dish was excellent.
I opted to pay $10 extra to get the wild boar with spaetzle and baby bok choy. The waiter informed us it was recommended medium rare which was just perfect for me anyway.
An amazing dish. Meat was very tender and flavorful, the sauce was excellent and so was the spaetzle. The fresh mint leaves just added a great "kick" to it.
The other person ordered the king salmon. The first bite prompted him to say "wow", which does not often happen.
The salmon was medium rare and was just cooked to perfection. Very tender, not dry. One of the best salmon we've ever had. The quinoa and the artichokes go perfectly well with the salmon - the artichokes especially for me. Too bad I was stuffed.
The desserts, of course, was doughnuts (no other choice).
Doughnuts were good, although I didn't think it was really that special. The hot chocolate that came with it was really yummy. Had a bit of spice to it which was excellent. Unfortunately though it came with too much cream and I just mixed it all in, which I regretted later on.
All in all, it was an excellent meal and well worth $34 (well, plus $10 for the boar). The entree portions were regular size, they definitely did not skimp just because of the prix-fixe deal.
Had the shrimp cavatelli: shrimp, peas, and the lovely house-made pasta all perfectly cooked, but too over-salted. The cream sauce was delicious and not too heavy.
Salmon: beautifully cooked to my specs (they asked how I prefer it cooked--how nice!), the texture of the quinoa was such a nice complement to the salmon.
Donuts: huuge disappointment, just dull, with some maple glaze; also had the spiced milk, which did nothing for me.
A note on the bar and wine service: they either need a second bartender, or the one there needs to get way more organized. It was kind of a long wait for one cocktail, and bar wasn't that crowded. The drink itself (can't remmeber the name, had a splash of fresh oj in it) wasn't very good.
We ordered a bottle of wine for dinner, and the apps arrived before the wine got poured. It was the same bartender's responsibility, apparently, to uncork and pour the wine. I think he may have a bit much on his plate.
I also went to Grace (blogged about it here: http://la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com/2008/02/special-foodventure-51-dinela-dinner.html) and also got the wild boar entree, but the upgrade price was $14 and it came with roasted brussel sprouts instead of baby bok choy. I guess they change up the options & the pricing as they go along.
Anyways, I didn't care for the boar as much, especially when it had that minty taste infused into it. The spaetzle & brussel sprouts, however, were heavenly.
I've been to Grace on doughnut nights before, usually they're way better! The ones with DineLA weren't bad, but sub-par in comparison to their usual offerings, since I guess they're mass producing up the wahoo for Restaurant Week.
I personally didn't care for all the upgrade options they were offering. If it was one or two extra options that were offered for a supplement, I can appreciate that as a few additional choices for those who want to go a little extra. But plumping up a four choice menu (two choices for appetizer & entree each) with like eight additional options for supplement seems a little overboard for me. It's not dishonest, but I feel like I'm being pumped for money when the majority of the DineLA menu comes with "additional $10-16 supplement"
I guess they do keep changing it. Too bad it was $14 instead of $10 :(
when I went they only had 1 extra option for appetizer, and I believe 2 for entree, and all of them were extra $10 ... I personally liked that minty taste :) (I love mint. I have a potted mint plant at home)
Funny how some of you got hot chocolate with your doughnuts we got spiced milk. Which was REALLY good.
I was super impressed with this restaurant. Never been before. I will definitely keep it in mind in the future.
Wife had the beef with cavatelli (super duper yummy, homemade pasta), I had the soup with the salmon. Water is gratis (sparkling or flat)...who else does this? Water should be free. Go Grace!
And no one else talked about the wine. The $30 optional pairing was excellent. Unlike Table 8, where they had a set wine selection of wines, no matter what you actually ordered, at Grace, each dish had a unique pairing, whether you ordered the Salmon or the Boar. I just have to say that I really loved the wine I got with my Salmon, a 2005 Domaine de Fontenille, Cotes du Luberon. Amazing. And who'd have thunk that tawny port and spiced milk could be drunk together? But it was great!
We were at Grace last night as well. We've eaten there twice before, the first time several years ago, and the second time a few months ago. In a nutshell I think the dineLA menu would serve as an enticing introduction to the restaurant.
We decided to forego any of the dishes that required supplements, opting instead to see what $34 each would bring. We shared the Vegan Coconut Scented Winter Squash Soup and the Shrimp Cavatelli with peas and chanterelles. The third option with no additional charge is a Spinach and Arugula Salad with endive, candied walnuts, fried feta and a grilled onion red wine vinaigrette. The fourth option in the starters category, carrying the $10 supplement, was a Sashimi of Japanese Hamachi with blood orange gelee and ponzu. I asked the hostess as we departed whether the menu would remain intact for the duration of the event, and she said the specials with the supplemental charges might change but the basic menu wouldn't. Anyway, I liked the soup quite a lot. It was very thick but not overly sweet, as squash soup can unfortunately be. Luckily this one was better suited to be a starter than dessert. There were some little crunchy thingies in the soup but I'm not sure what they were. I thought the shrimp cavatelli was weaker. The cavatelli seemed doughy, and the shrimp were average in flavor. I didn't see any chanterelles but then again my husband started with this while I started the soup, so maybe he ate all the mushrooms before we switched. Also, I thought the portion on the shrimp cavatelli was somewhat small, but I'm not sure how it would compare to their normal portion of the dish. Usually I'm not a complainer about portion size but I was thinking about it because of some comments I'd read on other threads about the dineLA event.
We moved on to share the Grilled Filet of Beef with farro, morcilla and red wine sauce, and the Sauteed New Zealand King Salmon with quinoa, artichokes and lobster nage. The other two entree options, both carrying the $10 supplement, were Sauteed New Zealand John Dory with chervil gnocchi, salsify, wild mushrooms and red wine nage, and the Grilled Tenderloin of Wild Boar with roasted Brussels sprouts, herbed Yukon Gold potato spaetzle and violet mustard sauce. BTW our server did not try at all to sell us on the dishes carrying supplements, which was nice, and overall service was very professional as it was on our other visits to Grace. I think the entrees were very successful, with one tiny peeve about portion (again) only relating to the piece of salmon itself. The salmon was cooked perfectly; we'd asked for medium rare although the server had suggested medium. The skin was wonderfully crispy. But I'm guessing that it couldn't have been more than 4-5 ounces (just an educated guess, don't slam me please). I had just a few bites and then I'd eaten half and passed it to my husband. The quinoa that accompanied the salmon was really dark and crispy and addictive. I don't know what they did to it, maybe toasted it or something. The filet dish was really very good. I liked the morcilla slices a lot, the steak was cooked perfectly medium rare, and there was a really pleasing, yet not overbearing, smokiness to the entire dish.
For dessert, we considered ordering another dessert from the regular dessert menu but nothing looked enticing enough so we went with the only included dessert, the Cinnamon Glazed Doughnuts with hot chocolate and toasted orange marshmallow. I'm not a big doughnut eater, in fact this was probably the first doughnut I've had in over a year, only in very rare instances are they worth the calories. These were fine, just warm doughnuts somewhat reminiscent of Krispy Kreme basic glazed doughnuts in shape, yet smaller, and the glaze was quite cinnamony which I liked. But every bite tasted exactly the same as the prior bite, so they were boring. The hot chocolate didn't do it for me either, it was just too thick and I try to avoid too much chocolate at night anyway. But I did like the accompanying cream which had a vague orange flavor but I'm not sure it would be recognizable as a "toasted orange marshmallow."
We each had a Bombay martini, my husband had a coffee after dinner, and the total was just at $100 including tax yet before tip.
re: Debbie W
Ordered the vegan squash soup, salmon, and sorbet selection (I read the menu wrong-- I thought it carried no supplement, but it was an extra $5) + a glass of vinho verde for $8. Date had the spinach arugula salad, beef, and donuts.
Squash soup was excellent. I didn't really taste the coconut much (was I supposed to? It said "scented," so I guess it's pretty light) but the soup was really savory. Pumpkin seeds were nice, a crunch here and there with the soup. yum. Salmon was good too, although not spectacular-- I've had better at Water Grill. Perhaps I should have ordered the John Dory despite the supplement? In any case, very tender. A very generous portion. I was totally stuffed at this point. Quinoa was very good too, al dente and not all overcooked. Accidentally ordered the sorbet with the supplement, which was too bad that I misread the menu because I would have ordered the donuts and been very very happy with it.
Date had the spinach arugula salad; a very VERY generous portion. Goat cheese chunks were delicious. Steak was so tender! I've been not eating meat for a while but I usually have a bite or two of date's food-- his was DELICIOUS. I didn't think the portion was smaller than a regular order of steak (it might have been, but we were both really full, so it's not like we went hungry). The donuts were really great too. Warm, moist, chewy, served with warmed milk with cinnamon.
Total damage plus tip; $102. I couldn't be happier with the entire dineLA program right now.
On a completely separate note: sitting at the table to my left was a dude wearing an old, faded white t-shirt with ripped jeans and tennis shoes; his date was wearing old ratty jeans and an baby t-shirt. I realize this is LA, but ratty t-shirts and torn jeans??!! I had told my date to spruce up a bit since I had been really looking forward to going to Grace for a while, and the couple next to us deflated a little bubble of excitement when I sat down. Chowhounds... please dress appropriately.
I concur. I attended on Sunday night, the first night of DineLA, and found the squash soup and the filet both quite delicious. The filet is perfectly cooked to order, is exquisitely tender, and perfectly complemented by the farro, onions and blood sausage. The cheese that tops this dish sends it into another realm. Nothing was off-mark, and I did not feel puny at all dining under the Dine LA menu. I will definitely return and recommend wholeheartedly.