Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Adventures in Graceland, Part One...

So I'm happy to report that first, yes, I am still up and blogging (it has been awhile, I know) and that second, that we crazy kids at the restaurant have totally hit the ground running these last two weeks!

I've personally had the time of my life going to the food terminal (for my first time ever...let me tell you, that is a place with serious personality, and at 7am too, to spare!), running around the local market looking for jerusalem artichokes and fresh ricotta, writing up my very own dessert menu, prepping for our first friends and family, then a media dinner, with time to go to our dear friends' wedding somewhere in all the madness! Definitely no sleep for the wicked, that's for sure.

So yes, this post is a bug gush-fest for all those exciting things that unfortunately, due to overstimulation and sheer exhaustion, I'm afraid I don't have the most succinct or accurate descriptions of...hopefully with time (and more than three hours of sleep, eep!) the details will return, but until then, some pictures!

The divinely plump and homey banquettes...

I honestly just love how warm and inviting the space feels.

Hello, fresh trout. Prepare to be smoked! Um, no really.
(See House smoked trout, with potato and green bean salad with buttermilk dressing...mmm, buttermilk.)


Ramps ahoy! The bottoms get a quickle (that's a quick pickle, yes) to be served with the house pate, as well as the leg of lamb with fava beans. The green parts get used as a leafy bed when D smokes the clever!)


As for me, I spend a fair share of my day contemplating apples. Consider the firmness of the Ida Red, as contrasted with the tart bite, yet softer (cooked) texture of the Macintosh...ah, the ideal baking pair, say pie?

I am such a girl. Yes, I punched out hearts to put on the mini pies. Yes I did.

Baked pie-lets, awaiting cinnamon ice cream and whisky caramel...


Some other dishes we're doing right now. Scallop with cucumber pernod sauce, fried capers and charred cherry tomatoes to start...


Followed by one of my faves, the port steak with bone marrow, potato salad, green beans and good old fashioned gravy. (You might recognize the steak idea in its infancy with D trying it out for our dinner one night...) I just totally dig the whole board. It's such a simple sunday-style dinner, you really can't go wrong!

It's also comforting to know that people are enjoying what we're putting out there (check out the first reviews here, here and here) - it's all a bit nerve wracking to send out your best but still first attempts, your babies, as it were, out into the dining room and wait with baited breath to find out how it will be received.

To that end, if anyone out there reading this has some honest (meaning useful!) feedback about their experience with us, I'd love to hear it. We want to do a fabulous job!

Until next time...happy eating!

Grace Restaurant
503 College Street

Toronto ON M6G 1A5

Saturday, May 3, 2008

opening soon!

Sorry I've been MIA for the last's been a crazy week, but I'm happy and super excited to announce that our brand spanking new restaurant, Grace, will be open as of this tuesday!

My sweetie, D, will be heading up the kitchen as chef, our great friend D as his sous, with lil' ol me dishing out desserts and cheese. Grace, named after the owner's grandmother, will be serving up modern farmhouse fare; comfort classics that remind you of your favourite sunday dinners, done up clean and light. Think braised short ribs with house-made bbq sauce, sweet potato and creamy coleslaw, house smoked trout with fingerling potatoes and green beans, roast leg of lamb with fava beans and roasted sunchokes, and for dessert, old fashioned mini apple pies with roasted cinnamon ice cream and Jacked (as in Daniels) caramel....

The owners actually come from a family of farmers and apple growers, and so we'll be doing them proud by using everything fresh and local that we can get our hands on; D just came back from an overnight trip foraging for wild ramps, and lucky me, I've been gorging myself this week on some great Ontario and Quebec cheeses (research purposes, of course) to put on our cheese menu.

Here are some before and after photos, just to preview - much more info to come!

The previous incarnation was a modern resto-supper-club-fusion-champagne-lounge...

pretty details

so much cleaning to do!

the makeover in progress...

reclaimed butcher block style table tops, waiting for cast iron bases

the inner courtyard is much light!

slowly but surely, the details are coming together...

um, for mise only...and a shot of courage when the sleepies set in!

tah dah!

Pictures of L's family, which include Grace's wedding photos, line the walls.

The courtyard all dressed up!

the master plan. it was late...don't ask. :)

Grace Restaurant
503 College Street
Toronto ON M6G 1A5 (still under construction...coming soon!)