In order to celebrate my own and another Chowhound (bassbiz)'s birthdays, we decided to plan a little birthday dinner celebration for last night at Grace Restaurant on Beverly Blvd in Los Angeles. When we arrived without half of our party of 5, the waitstaff was very gracious and accomodating and let us relax at the bar until we were ready to be seated. The room is much smaller than we had anticipated but it is nicely decorated and the lighting was low but not so low that it was difficult to read the menus.
Three of us started with apps which arrived very quickly- Roasted Beet Salad for the other birthday girl, Stuffed Squash Blossoms filled with Mozarella and a crostini overloaded with burrata for me, and the Pumpkin, sea urchin and shrimp Risotto for another friend. All looked very good, but I think the winners were the risotto and the squash blossoms since the salad did not look all that exciting or unusual.
The mains came pretty quickly as well. I ordered the Roasted Kurobuta Pork loin (a special, very good and the sides were incredible), Bassbiz had the Braised Pork Shank (WOWWWWW, absolutely amazing), one friend had the Alaskan King Salmon (good, but didn't look or taste all that breathtaking to me), another had the Sand Dabs with port figs (yummy), and the last had the Tenderloin of Wild Boar (got very high praise although I did not get a taste). The winner of all of the dishes was definitely the Braised Pork Shank- it was soo delicious and falling off the bone, incredible. The portions were HUGE as well. We were really expecting that we wouldn't get all that much for what it cost but we had way more than enough food and everyone (especially the guys) were thrilled.
We ended up ordering 3 desserts even though we were stuffed because it was a special occassion. We got the plate of doughnuts, the chocolate caramel torte, and the watermelon sorbet to share. The doughnuts were wonderful - it consisted of 1 glazed, 1 coconut covered, 1 chocolate frosted, and 1 raspberry-filled. The raspberry filled was divine and the others were delicious as well. The chocolate tarte dessert was extremely rich and the watermelon sorbet was very light and refreshing but not something I would go out of my way to order again.
All in all it was a fantastic meal at a restaurant that I will happily return to.
Briefly, the ups: food, service, atmosphere
the downs: no amuse bouche, the waitstaff's uniforms were bizarre- like park service or UPS workers - brown and khaki unstylish pants and tops, yuck!, the bread was hard as rocks, and valet parking only
3 appetizers, 3 cocktails, 1 bottle of wine (I have no clue what it was but it was $42), 5 entrees, 3 desserts came to $341 including tax but not tip (I think, bassbiz can correct me if I'm off). Not so shabby for a birthday feast!