Monday, April 2, 2012

The Grape: An Oldie is Still a Goodie

Did you know that The Grape was the first restaurant in Dallas to offer a blackboard menu as well as one of the first to offer wines by the glass?  Over the years The Grape has boasted a cast of employees that reads like a who’s who of Dallas. Noted restaurateur, Alberto Lombardi, was an early waiter; award winning film director, Julian Schnabel, was a part-time chef; Frank Bailey, brother of Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, was the original chef in 1972; Diane Teitelbaum, wine writer for the Dallas Morning News and national wine critic, was the restaurant’s first waitress and manager.

The Grape has stayed true to its roots for over 35 years, offering quality food and wine at affordable prices and the tradition continues.  Brian and Courtney Luscher took over in 2007, buying the restaurant from Kathy McDaniel and Charlotte Parker, who'd owned The Grape for 35 years. They closed the restaurant for a couple days, updating furniture, tables and flatware, and adding a fresh coat of paint.

"Culinary tradition runs deep at The Grape. The kitchen’s signature mushroom soup has been tinkered with a few times, but the original recipe is the same as it ever was," explains D Magazine.   "The mushroom soup is the Siren that lured many chefs here into the rocks,” said chef/owner Brian Luscher. “Yeah, I tried to tinker with it, but there has been three generations of brothers in this kitchen who have made this soup. No way I am changing that.”

One change that happens every month is a "Come As You Are" wine dinner.  A fun, casual setting, that allows the guests to literally "come-as-they-are" (in a suit or jeans) and dine at their own pace, allowing for a more festive one-on-one format with the wine experts.  Themes include a wine expert/host for the evening who speaks to each individual table about the wines selected.  Reservations are recommended and the cost is $48 per person exclusive of tax, gratuity and other beverages.

The Grape is my kind of place: comfortable and cozy, atmosphere and personality, delectable cuisine and you don't have a heart-attack when the check comes.  Both Brian and Courtney roam the floor, greeting diners, making suggestions and fielding questions about the menu.  I love it when a chef gets out from behind the kitchen counter.  D Magazine has rated it one their favorite places for brunch and Texas Monthly awarded them Best Burger (of all things) in 2009.  Clearly, there's a lot to love about this place.

Entrees range from $24-$31 at dinner, so don't get me wrong, this isn't the kind of place I could afford to have dinner on a weekly basis. But, every now and again you need to treat yourself, or take out-of-towners, or celebrate a special occasion. And for those occasions, The Grape will not let you down.

Located at 2808 Greenville Avenue, The Grape is open for dinner nightly at 5:30pm and Sunday Brunch. For reservations call 214-828-1981 or visit the website at Complimentary valet parking always provided.

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