Last night, M. and I decided to go to Grace for a drink and maybe an eat to scope out the place. I'm sure you've all seen all the beautiful pictures of the restoration (if not, look here and here). But none of these pictures do the church-turned-restaurant justice.
It's beautiful inside, and it's hard to focus on the walk to your table while you're being seated. M and I arrived kinda late, maybe 9pm, and were seated immediately. The hostess said we were lucky that there was no wait and that it had been crazy an hour before. Our server also was surprised that we didn't have to wait, with no reservation.
After we were seated, M. and I had to take a minute to look around. We were seated on the right side of the restaurant, just under the mezzanine. The bar is beautiful, crafted by friends of the owner and shipped from Denver (since M. is a woodworker, we had to wonder why they didn't get it made locally, to support the local economy and strive for a little sustainability - but a small gripe in this wonderful project).
The kitchen stands where the altar was, and I love the beautiful ductwork that is a work of art in itself. Because of the open kitchen, I discovered that a friend I worked with in another restaurant has snagged a position on the Grace team, congrats Luke! And, of course, the stained glass windows and high-arching beams are extraordinary - maybe it's because I'm a heathen and am not used to the grandeur of houses of worship, but I could not stop gaping.
For our drinks, I tried the house's specialty- a jalapeño, strawberry-pineapple margarita. And it was spicy! M. had a Rogue Dead Guy Ale draught. For our appetizer, we picked fried clams. Side note: The menus are papers attached to a clipboard, which M. found hard to navigate through, while I was momentarily confused about whether or not I'd been given a wine list. I hope these are a by-product of their 'soft opening' and are only temporary.
The fried clams were Littleneck clams (I think), not clam strips, and were soft inside with lots of meat and a just-crispy coating. We appreciated that they didn't fry the crap out of them.
For our entrees, M. got the hangar steak and I ordered the crab salad, served with avocado soup and coconut.
The soup was chilled, with a big mound of crab salad in the middle- peekytoe crab mixed up with cucumber, coconut, and loads of cilantro. I loved the crab, coconut, avocado combo.
M.'s delicious steak was cooked well (as in correctly, not well done), which he appreciates, since it's often hard to convince kitchens to cook things rare. The steak was served with twice-baked fingerling potatoes and green beans. It's an impressive endeavor to stuff those little potatoes! M. and I both agreed that the steak was delicious, but he thought his potatoes and beans were a little undercooked (I loved them both though).
We decided not to order dessert - while they have two desserts available (and a cheese plate), they are still hiring a pastry chef, and so there is not yet a wide variety of delicious sweet endings.
I am excited to welcome a great new restaurant in a beautiful space to Portland, especially because of it's close proximity to my house! Between the two bars, there is plenty of bar space, ensuring that even as Grace grows in popularity, there will be a spot for my elbows and me to stop by and have a drink. I hope the menu grows too, as there could be more salad and appetizer options.
I love that they have a bar menu available until twelve, assuring that you will be welcome into the late night, unlike so many other restaurants in Portland. I am hoping that this place will strike a balance between the nice restaurant where you can take your folks and a place where you can hang out, have a drink, and still get some delicious 'foodie' food.