Grace is a new restaurant at 503 College Street – where Xacutti used to be. It’s billed as “modern farmhouse”, and we discussed what that might mean – the look is light wood, if that helps, but the cuisine is hip urban. A party of us had plenty of food and lots of fun – the restaurant has only been open a week and seems to have caught the attention of young professional types. There were lots of stylish people to look at, and there was an excellent atmosphere of eating, drinking, flirting, and ogling.
The food is a somewhat mixed experience. Take the halibut poached in olive oil:
The technique is very effective, since the fish is treated delicately at a relatively low temperature and comes out tender and moist. But the leaves on top did nothing for the dish: it's hard to get them on to the same forkful as the fish, and so they came into my mouth separately. The point of constructed dishes of this sort is that each mouthful should offer you a mixture of textures and flavours -- appearance should be secondary; this isn't El Bulli after all. That didn't happen. I regret to say that the pink stuff underneath was grapefruit. Now, whose idea was that?
There are other glitches: corn soup with crab fritters sounds like a fantastic appetizer -- but the fritters were doughy and didn't have any crunch; there was a pleasantly presented potato salad -- but the potatoes were overcooked and mealy. However, the scallops you see on the right below were perfect: a little crust on perfectly tender and sweet meat.
This is a fun place, and our party of five had a very good time, starting from the wine, the friendly service from good-looking waitstaff (though the kitchen was somewhat overwhelmed by the sudden influx of many hearty eaters at about 8 pm), and the atmosphere -- I am sure they will get their act together.