A lot has happened since a New American bistro by the name of The Grape opened in 1972. One president resigned and another was impeached. Jordache jeans took the roller-coaster ride of fashion, the smartphone was introduced, the human genome was mapped and dietary fat was first demonized, then praised.
Over the course of four decades in business, The Grape has made some history of its own. When Kathy McDaniel and Charlotte Parker opened The Grape, it was one of the first two restaurants in Dallas to offer wine by the glass and the first to offer a blackboard menu. And when Brian Luscher acquired the restaurant in 2007, it wasn’t long before Texas Monthly declared it had the best burger in Texas.
That burger, served all day Sundays and at dinner service Mondays, is a critical darling and a fan-favorite. On our recent visit during brunch, a parade of burgers snaked its way out of the kitchen and onto tables, including to one party of more than a dozen burger-enthused people.
But what if you don’t want the best burger in Texas for brunch? Not to fear, The Grape has you covered with a menu that has the brunch classics and then some. The menu is divided into four categories. Starters ($5 to $10) include the mushroom soup, the only thing more famous at The Grape than the burger, as well as items such as cinnamon pull-aparts ($10), sausage hush puppies in maple hot-sauce butter ($9) and biscuits and gravy ($6.)
The biscuits and gravy are of particular note and should be a requirement for any brunch at The Grape. How often does one get to taste something akin to her mother's or grandmother’s cooking? The Grape’s gravy is the kind of stuff that coats the spoon and then your mouth in a silken bath of flour and fat. It is creamy and rich, but not sickeningly so, nor is it very salty. Studded with sausage, chives and red pepper, it proved to be a soulful and homey rendition of this Southern classic.
One can quite happily rodeo a selection of starters and sides ($5) — which include a banana pepper hash, grilled tomatoes and farm eggs — into a meal fit for a king. We did that by combining the biscuits with a side order of cheddar scallion grits. The grits made for a fitting accompaniment: cheesy, creamy and with just enough freshness from the scallions to keep your heart ticking.
The rest of menu is divided into meals that are either “breakfast” ($11 to $15) or, by contrast, “not breakfast” ($12 to $18). The former category is dedicated to chilaquiles streaked with salsa verde and lime crema, Belgian waffles, two-egg plates and the like; the latter category dashes from gyros to chef’s salad to shrimp and grits. We opted for the decidedly breakfast-like Haystack ($14). The Haystack arrives like a more structurally sound Tower of Pisa, only this tower was erected in honor of the a.m.
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Here, a round of rosti potatoes (the Swiss version of a potato pancake) is stacked with half-scrambled eggs and a bit of Muenster before being topped off with grilled tomatoes, a generous portion of sliced avocado and frisée dressed in a sweet vinaigrette. A swirl of burnt orange chili Sriracha sauce finished the dish, which, despite its many wonderful parts, never wowed. Indeed, it proved to be an exceedingly mellow affair in both texture and taste. Next time, skip the stack and order an extra plate of biscuits and gravy.
We ended our meal on a sweet note with an order of the lemon-kissed ricotta blueberry blintzes ($9). While officially listed as a starter, the blintzes made for a lovely close to an imperfect but still enjoyable meal.
The Grape has proven itself, decade after decade, as a font of good food and wine in Dallas. If our meal can serve as an indicator, that reputation largely bleeds over into the average brunch experience — burger or no burger.
The Grape, 2808 Greenville Ave. Brunch is served from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.