Grace – Cheese Be with You

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Grace, formerly a church, and now one of the largest restaurants in Portland, has been serving up food and drink since 2009.  I hadn’t been there in a couple years and had never had any food there but I figured it might be nice to go back and at least have some pre-dinner drinks on a Saturday night when I was ready to party like it was the second coming.

Upon walking in, I was reminded of the sheer magnitude of the building itself. With cathedral ceilings, the giant, circular, main-floor bar, second/balcony level, and open kitchen, Grace is lot to take in. When we got there, it was more packed than the Vatican at midnight mass; every seat in the house was taken. We walked upstairs to see if there were any seats at the upper level bar available. There weren’t, but from the heavens, we saw two bar seats open up on the main floor. Under strict directive from my wife, I ditched her and ran to commandeer the prized bar spots.

We relaxed in our seats for a couple minutes and were brought three tablets – food, drink, and bar snacks. We weren’t sure we wanted any food, but we were definitely in for some holy water. The drink menu was full of beer, wine, and cocktails, but what piqued my interest were the drinks under the heading of Seven Deadly Sins.  A few of them sounded good to me. My wife told me she was looking to order a sangria but didn’t see it on the menu. I wavered between various “sins” before settling on Pride – Tito’s Vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice, lime, and rosemary lime cranberry simple syrup.

It took a little while to get someone to come back to us for our commandments, but it eventually happened. My wife asked about the sangria. They just changed to their fall menu and were almost out the bartender noted, but they might have a little left. Mrs. Portlandeater said she’d take it. Like a godless heathen, I ordered the Pride with pride. As I waited, I noticed that the drinks looked a bit girly which I tend to enjoy. My feminine sensibilities were in full effect.

The bartender delivered water – which he quickly turned into sangria – to my wife. My drink slid in front of me in all it’s red, fruity-looking greatness. Sitting in it were cranberries crucified on a curly toothpick and a sprig of holy rosemary.  My wife tried the sangria and seemed to find it just as she remembered – delicious. I then tried my drink. Jesus Christ! It was stronger than hell and that combined with it’s pretty red color made it more confusing than Mary Magdalene dressing up as the Virgin Mother for Halloween. The cranberry and lime worked well with the vodka and cointreau while the rosemary give it a hint of sizzle. My wife tried it and thought it was too all-powerful for her.

Sipping our drinks made us feel reborn. I started to think I might need a snack and prayed they might have something to suit my needs. I looked at the bar menu. The menu contained a combination of apps, raw items, charcuterie, and cheese. The last two seemed interesting to me, but I hadn’t had any cheese lately, so I was leaning toward that. In my world, cheese isn’t just important – eating it on a regular basis is practically gospel. I finalized my decision and went with Condor’s Ruin – a sheep’s milk cheese from Georgia.

After a few more sips of my drink, the cheese came out on a stone with lots of goodies including some slightly-leavened bread, raisins on the vine, apple slices, marcona almonds, and the cheese itself. I took all parts of the platter and put it together to try my first bite. Hallelujah! The buttery, crisp bread was the perfect base for the sweet fruit, crunchy almonds, and rich, creamy cheese. A bartender came by and told me how great that cheese was. I told her she was preaching to the choir.

I nibbled, crunched, and devoured every last crumb on my plate. Then I finished my drink. I wanted more, but by some miracle, I settled down and stopped ordering since I had somewhere else to be. My wife finished her sangria. We rejoiced. Even though we didn’t order much, everything we had was superb. We didn’t stay for dinner as the meals are very pricey and I’ve heard mixed reviews of the food. The drinks and bar snack prices are in line with the rest of Portland though. In truth, I may try a full meal there soon. I feel like it might be worth it based on that experience. So how was Grace? Amazing!

Stay hungry.

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