Blackboard Eats adventure: Grace Restaurant

gracetableOK, so eating at Grace isn’t really an adventure, but this was my first time using a Blackboard Eats deal and my first time at Grace, so the whole experience was kind of adventure-like. And what an experience it was: great food, great service. Can’t beat that.

I cannot stress how important service is to me. Good service should be easy, but apparently far too many restaurants find this hard to come by. Service can make or break a diner’s whole experience, so when I encounter really great service (or really bad service), I make a mental note. In Grace’s case, the note is a pleasant one.

From the get-go, Grace exhibited nothing but exemplary service.¬† When I called to make the reservation, I asked if there was a way to substitute the main course on the Blackboard Eats prix fixe menu for something else. You see, the main course was supposed to be lamb, and I don’t like lamb. Honestly, I didn’t think the restaurant would accommodate me, that they would say that this special deal was what it was, and that would be that. But the person who took my call said she would ask the chef, who wasn’t available at the time, so she said she would call me back once she had a chance to ask him. And she 1) actually called me back the next day and 2) said I could have the salmon or grilled tempeh dishes from the regular menu instead. So of course I made a reservation for me and Esther of e*starLA, who had agreed to try out Grace — and Blackboard Eats — with me.

The special Blackboard Eats prix fixe meal was $38 for three courses, which is a great deal when entrees normally range from $25 to $34.

The meal started off with a roasted kabocha squash soup topped with toasted pumpkin seeds and pomegranate. This might be my new comfort-food soup. It tasted more like beef stock than squash, a trait I appreciated because it added another dimension to the soup. I also liked the contrast between the creaminess of the soup and the crunchiness of the toasted pumpkin seeds, as well as the sweet and tangy pop of the pomegranate seeds.

Roasted kambocha soup

Roasted kabocha soup

Next up were our mains. Esther stuck with the original grilled Sonoma lamb with byaldi confit and charred tomato nage, while I went with the sauteed wild king salmon with forbidden black rice, pecans, cranberries and a watercress emulsion. Esther said the lamb had a great un-gamey flavor, which I can confirm having tasted the smallest of bites. The meat also had a nice peppery crust.

Grilled Sonoma lamb

Grilled Sonoma lamb

And I loved the salmon, which was cooked to perfection, including having an impeccably crispy skin that took the dish to a whole other level. I was weary of the cranberries, thinking they would be of the dried, sweetened variety, but they were fresh, cooked berries. Their tanginess complemented the rest of the dish, and the forbidden black rice was a nice, interesting touch, too.

Sauteed wild king salmon

Sauteed wild king salmon

For dessert we had a seared market pear and a buttermilk ice cream sandwich with blood orange syrup and oat praline. This wasn’t my favorite dessert, as I found the buttermilk ice cream too rich. However, the cookies were light and flaky, which was a nice departure from the usual thick cookie used for ice cream sandwiches. And the pear was salted on top, another dimension of flavor.

Seared pear and buttermilk ice cream sandwich

Seared pear and buttermilk ice cream sandwich

Not only was the food great, but the atmosphere was enjoyable, too — elegant but not stuffy. And our server, Angela, was friendly and knowledgeable about the menu. She recommended the salmon and even asked me how I wanted it cooked: a little pink in the middle, or all the way through. I said I wanted it cooked all the way through (I like my fish either raw or cooked and not somewhere in the middle, i.e., I don’t like seared fish), which I immediately regretted, thinking it would come out overcooked. But it was perfect, and I was happy. The rest of the waitstaff was friendly and prompt with clearing our plates without being intrusive. The restaurant even split our bill by person.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal, and since we had no problems redeeming our Blackboard Eats deal, I would definitely do it again — all of it.

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Maya Meinert

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12 2009

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  1. 1

    That is a very good deal for the quality of food and service. I went here during DineLA a few months back and had a great time–went with the 5-course option and lots of extras =). The soup looks and sounds delicious, as does the lamb. Nice work with the pictures as I know it’s so dark in that place.


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