Now, 15 years later, The Grape is under new ownership, and they have given this Dallas stalwart a new lease on life. Chef Brian Luscher and his wife Courtney (who serves as the restaurant’s general manager) are dedicated to creating monthly menus full of unusual combinations. What hasn’t changed is the welcoming atmosphere and homey vibe.
Settled at our table in the dining room with one of The Grape’s signature cocktails, we took our time choosing selections for a cheese and charcuterie plate ($18 for five selections; $14 for three selections). We went with St. Andre, Widmer’s four-year cheddar, and St. Pete’s Select Blue Cheese; and the house-made rabbit mortadella (an Italian cold cut usually made from pork), chicken liver pâté, and spicy soppressata. (They were out of the soppressata; our server suggested choosing the housemade pork rillettes instead of an imported salami. We trusted her.)
I’m accustomed to small cheese plates that leave you wanting more due solely to their small portion size. The Grape’s left me wanting more, but not because it was skimpy. Generous hunks of cheese and helpings of charcuterie were complemented by sliced fruit, cornichons, olives, capers and grapes, as well as both crackers and a loaf of warm, crusty bread. My dining buddy is not a fan of liver, so I got to have the pâté to myself, which worked out because I’m not sure I would have shared it anyway. Velvety smooth, the earthy liver flavor was perfectly balanced by oniony sweetness. I did share the rillettes, which paired well with the apples, the tartness of the fruit bringing out the pork’s flavor. The mortadella was, in a word, cute. It had lovely flavor and texture, but I happily gave it up to leave room for more pâté.
I had a difficult time choosing an entrée, but after help from our server, I decided on the sautéed shrimp with lemon-chili sausage, caper berries, and polenta ($21, no longer on the menu). My dining buddy chose the Grilled and Mopped “Prime” Pork Chop with hominy gratin, red cabbage slaw and green beans ($26).
The shrimp were, as I expected, perfectly cooked and seasoned, as were the other elements of the plate. The polenta was creamy, with its richness balanced by the acidity of the caper berries and heat from the sausage.
Nearly two inches thick, the pork chop was unbelievably juicy and flavorful, with smokiness from the grill as well as sweetness from the glaze (the “mopping”). The gratin was creamy and loaded with green chile and bacon, but not so much that it detracted from the chop. Cabbage slaw provided a nice respite from the rich meat and creamy gratin. The green beans were fine, but didn’t seem to add much to the plate.
At this point, dessert seemed inevitable. We chose the caramel popcorn sundae ($7): buttered popcorn ice cream topped with sea salt caramel and a caramel popcorn tuile, which combine to create a perfect mix of salty and sweet.
The Grape has been honored as home to the best burger in Texas by Texas Monthly, but they only serve it on Sundays at brunch and Monday nights (when happy hour runs until 8 p.m.). On a second visit we requested a patio table to enjoy the cool evening weather. I’d noticed the frittered artichokes ($12, no longer on the menu) on our previous visit. Halves of artichoke hearts are battered and fried until crisp, then wrapped with prosciutto and topped with grana Padano (a cheese similar to Parmesan) and micro-greens, creating a perfect start to a spring meal.
Of course we couldn’t miss the Best Burger in Texas ($13), and I can’t resist Moules Frites ($10 at happy hour; $15 other times). The burger is topped with Vermont white cheddar and thick-cut peppered bacon, and served on a slightly sweet pain au lait roll. Cooked to medium, it’s thick, juicy, and flavorful — definitely a “Best Burger” contender in my book.
The moules frites were a “best” contender as well: the broth was rich with herbs and garlic and the mussels were plump and flavorful.
My experiences at The Grape were close to flawless. It’s an ideal place for a romantic evening or a meal with friends.
I can’t recommend it highly enough, and can’t wait to return.
2808 Greenville Avenue
Dallas, TX 75206
Open seven days at
Sunday Brunch 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.