When it comes to culinary accolades, there’s a reason this restaurant has been around for more than 40 years. The Dallas bistro on Greenville was one of the first restaurants in town to offer a seasonally changing blackboard menu and also one of the first to serve wine by the glass. The blackboard is still there, the wine list is still notable and chef de cuisine Saran Snow does a masterful job executing the culinary vision of owner Brian Luscher. Luscher and his wife, sommelier Courtney Luscher, bought the restaurant in 2007 from the original owners. Since then, they’ve put their own spin on the classic spot.
“This restaurant has a lot of loyal long-time patrons,” said Courtney. “I’m sure some were thinking ‘Will they screw it up?’ But people knew Bryan and his reputation. And we have stayed true to The Grape’s roots of providing quality food and wine while bringing a new culinary vision to the table.”
Brian graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York in 1996. He served as executive chef at several restaurants, including Routh Street Brewery in Dallas, where he and Courtney met. Courtney’s resume includes a stint as general manager at Dakota’s Steakhouse in Dallas, where she began her love affair with wine. She completed a master sommelier program in 2009 and is a regular contributor to the monthly wine panel for the Dallas Morning News.
Under the Luschers’ direction, the restaurant has chalked up an impressive list of honors. Shout-outs from Zagat and USA Today, as well as local restaurant critics attest to the consistent quality of fare. The Grape’s signature burger was named the best in Texas by Texas Monthly in 2013, one of the 21 essential burgers in the U.S. by eater.com, and even Forbes.com weighed in, calling it one of ten must-eat burgers — sadly, we didn’t get to try the burger. In a brilliant move that keeps demand high, this signature menu item is only offered on Mondays and Tuesday. But there are plenty of other menu items to please the palate on other days of the week. Chef Sarah Snow was at the helm on the Thursday evening we visited. She stopped by our table for a quick chat before the evening’s rush got underway.
“I’ve always wanted to be a chef in a bistro,” said Snow. “That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. We’re not trying to do anything crazy new here, just re-format the classics. We change the menu monthly based on seasonal local ingredients.”
She sent charcuterie out as a first course, as attractive to the eye as it was appetizing. Beef carpaccio followed with pickled mustard seed, crispy capers and bone marrow butter. We reminded each other to pace ourselves, there were still entrees to come. We sampled basmati crusted trout, roasted chicken and a flavorful pork chop. The entrees were all perfectly executed, the trout crispy, the chicken succulent and the pork seared beautifully, with a smoky undercurrent. Courtney paired each course with an appropriate wine. Though we appreciate wine, we’re not connoisseurs, and Courtney made us feel comfortable as she told us a little about each of the selections she brought to us.
When we thought we couldn’t eat another bite, dessert appeared. The sweet corn panna cotta was a divine finishing flourish to a spectacular meal. The Grape offers weekly specials, including that famous burger on Monday and Tuesdays, discounts on wine on Wednesdays and special occasion meals on holidays. We’ve been here for Sunday brunch, too, and that could be a whole other delicious review. Check out the restaurant’s website for the current menu and specials.