Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Special Foodventure #51: DineLA Dinner @ Grace

The starlet of the DineLA set, of course I had to check out what Grace to offer and thanks to my serendipitious checking of OpenTable (well after everyone pointed out that they're fully booked and I got stuck on a double-digit waitlist) I managed to score a table for me and my friend last week. So off we went to see what Neal Fraser whipped up for Restaurant Week . . .

. . . and that was a lot of choices, if you're willing to pay the price. On top of the
standard DineLA $34 dinner offerings they also had numerous upgrades available for supplements of various prices. Want to try the foie gras appetizer? Sure, add $16; or maybe the wild boar entree? $14 more and you got it. How about a wine pairing for an extra $30?

But all those extras miffed me a little. True, they are fully disclosing the additional charges and the diner still have choices on the standard option, but it's still got to me that they're getting you in the door with a $34 menu, only to besiege you with 6-8 upgrades that can easily double the price of the prix-fixe. But for diners who can stick to their guns and not get tempted (and boy were all those extras tempting!), dining here during Restaurant Week is a good deal (for comparison, their five-course tasting menu would've costed $85).

For starters, I decided to stick with the standard one and got the Shrimp Cavatelli:

which was a nice little dish of pasta, shrimp, peas and chanterelle mushrooms in a garlicky cream sauce. I was thinking "creamier, fancier shrimp scampi with pasta" when I was eating this, and it was pretty pleasant overall, the garlic could've been a little less strong - if only for the sakes of this being a first course and I don't want to have to check my breath for the rest of the meal.

My friend opted for an upgrade and got . . .
Foie Gras with Winter Fruit Clafoutis & Sauternes Gelee, Pistachio Compote (below the foie gras) and Hemp Seed Tuile quite a mouthful on the menu and on the plate. I had a little taste of everything and I think I can sum it up with "exotic", with a myriad of aromas & tastes that's hard to describe ("It tastes kinda like . . ."), though perhaps that may mean I need to polish & refine my palate some more. Overall, the dish was sweeter & fruitier than I expected ~ since those elements were present in all the non-foie gras components of this dish. As for the fattened liver itself, good - but I've had better.

For our main courses, we both went for Wild Boar with Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Spaetzle and Violet Mustard, at the waitress' recommendation and since it wasn't a meat we encounter every day:
For me, the spaetzle and the brussel sprouts were the highlights of the entree, both having that divine roasted, caramelization aromas that went wonderfully with the violet mustard sauce. The boar itself was not as successful; it was too gamey for my preference and had an unexpected minty-sagey aroma that I just didn't care for. But hey, at least now I can cross "wild boar" off the list of meats I've eaten -- though if they all taste like this I probably wouldn't try again anytime soon.

And finally, our sweets --
Cinnamon Glazed Doughnuts with Hot Chocolate and Marshmallow Foam The fried dough were well-executed (crispy, fairly light with a mildly sweet and authentically cinnamony glaze) though I recall having much better doughnuts on their doughnut nights; understandable since they're pretty much mass-producing these doughnuts for Restaurant Week. The hot chocolate was also pretty good (way better with the marshmallow foam stirred in!), but would've been more awesome if it came out hot and not lukewarm.

Based on this meal alone, Grace wounds up on my list as one of those places I had a high expectation of, but wounds up falling considerably short. Part of that may been no fault of the restaurant (maybe I'm just not a wild boar person) but there were other shortcomings that were (and any who've drank room temperature "hot" cocoa before knows what I'm talking about.) But outside of DineLA, I've have had wonderful experiences here so really hoping that this is just a fluke of mediocrity. I guess time will tell when I return for an actual meal here.

And since it's one of the big stars of the DineLA set, of course there were other food blogger reviews.
Here's what they have to say.

Grace
7360 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles
323.934.4400
www.gracerestaurant.com

1 comments:

Jonah said...

I very much agree with you. It is a bit disingenuous to offer a bargain and then pump it up with add-ons. A more classy way to do it would be to just point out that you can order off of the regular menu.

There should be a genuine offer to the customers to order the DineLA menu.

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