o-rama, restaurant grace, second chances


I was in a bit of a pickle this past month with posting about Grace and their ‘Whole Beast Feast’ that we attended.  You see, because Professor A. is extremely organized, I knew several months ago that Augusts ‘O-Rama’ would reflect upon ‘Second Chances’ for restaurants. While I thought about venturing back to the site of some unimpressive meals, there is that hesitation that the meal and experience will be a disappointing repeat performance. And, well, it’s hard to part with a good chunk of change when you don’t have it in the first place.

But, sometimes you feel like you’re missing something that everyone else enjoys, that you’re somehow not in on the appeal of a restaurant.  Bresca was actually one of those places for us.  Long before I rocked the hyperbole for Chef Desjarlais, our first dining experience there wasn’t that fantastic. But, one thing to note, is that it wasn’t the service, menu choices or preparation.. it was what we ordered.  When we decided to give it another try, just about a year later, we ordered completely different things and were floored by how much we enjoyed it. It seemed like a completely different restaurant.

I now put Grace up with that same, dramatic change.  My first experience there was a for a launch of a new ‘cocktail’ style tomato from Backyard Farms. The best thing that came out of it was meeting Kate for the first time. Sadly, the second thing I remember of the meal is how painfully undercooked the risotto was. Raw rice crunchy.  I remember thinking that if the chef couldn’t prepare 10 dishes of risotto at even a passable level, then how was he going to execute hundreds of dishes a night?  The Missus actually wouldn’t even let it be a consideration because of prices.

“$40 for Lobster Bisque? In Maine?”

If you mentioned Grace, you incurred her rant.

Then there was a shift at Grace.  Old chef was out, new chef was in, though the menu didn’t really change much. Then Chef Sueltenfuss arrived and, despite our previous notions of the restaurant, we were willing to put that all aside. In fact, we were more than intrigued.

Our first meal there, sometime this past February, was filled with a slew of appetizers highlighting different cuts of pork–from pig ear to belly–and a heavy dose of foie gras. Dessert was a playful presentation of S’mores. I do believe there was even some sassafras in the marshmallows. It seemed like our reward for giving them a second chance.

We’ve been back a few times since then, eating and enjoying our way through Chef Sueltenfuss’ menu. For us, it’s no longer an overpriced, monolith of a restaurant whose food wouldn’t even pass in restaurants that charged one third of the price. For us, Grace is a new restaurant, completely different than the one I was disappointed with a few years ago. It’s one that we’re more than happy that we gave a second chance to.