Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Little Grace Under Pressure

Hola readers. Well it’s been a few weeks, two to be exact, and man has the time flown. But what, you may ask, has been going on in my foodie life in all that time? Well… I was contacted for a job interview in Boston, score! I went to several amazing restaurants (double score) and it’s now the 8th day of spring (thank the lord). My trip down to Boston last week was great, albeit a little out of sequence for the few reviews I have to cook up. But since it was the latest adventure I’ve had, I think it makes sense to include it here now. But, the review, a supplement to the Novice Fork review of Masa Restaurant, in the South End of Boston, will be coming soon. Let’s turn now, to a wonderful Portland restaurant I want to give a little attention to, Grace. Was it good?  For certain.

Grace Restaurant

15 Chestnut Street
Portland, ME

The Novice Fork gives this church
turned luxe dinning establishment
4 Forks for its amazing atmosphere,
killer cocktails, and overall metropolitan appeal

The interior of Grace, so beautiful

What happens when you take three plucky twenty-somethings, a large (read very generous) gift certificate to one of Portland’s best restaurants, and a Friday night? Well a fantastic dinner and cocktail hour at Grace, of course. On this particular Friday, armed with two good friends and this (very generous) gift certificate, I thought a break from the normal bar hopping was in order. I crave good food, as most of you know, and thought how fun it would be to share this passion with a few friends. So to Grace we went, expecting the best. And we were not disappointed.

While Grace’s food is very good, the space and the drinks are really what one comes for. The site of a former church, the dinning rooms maintains most of the original gothic details, right down to leaving the altar intact behind the open concept kitchen. You enter on the main floor, with the spectacular central bar, round and with three gothic “sculptures” radiating out from it. And upstairs is more seating and a second bar, all overlooking the dinning room below from old church balconies. It’s simply a beautiful place to eat.

Before the food was decided upon, my friends and I enjoyed a few cocktails, a Greyhound for me, red wine for them. All of it was very tasty. The food? We, none too surprisingly, had enough money to sample a variety of different things so we did. I started with a warm salad with prosciutto and walnuts. Very good. My friend had the Pork Cretons, or a type of pork paté served with mustard and pickled vegetables. Wicked good. My other friend? The slider of course, which was perfect. (The girl loves her burgers) Are you sensing a trend with this restaurant?

These “starters” were all digested at the upstairs bar, but 4 lounge seats opened up right next to us so we migrated there and got even more food. For me it was the Pan Seared Goat Cheese Gnocchi, which was sweet, savory and fantastic. And my friend got the Hanger Steak, which, cooked medium rare, was perfection.

Now with this lavish meal you’d expect great service, and that’s certainly what you get here. Our bartender was excellent and I see her there every time I go. And our waitress was prompt and easygoing, my two favorite things and we felt taken care of but also left to our own deep conversations.   

So, if you go to Grace, you will find a diverse, inspired menu, banging good cocktails, and an atmosphere more big city than you’d expect to find in our little Port City. 4 Forks it is! You should go to Grace now if you’re smart… but no pressure.

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