Vegetarian choices on the lunch menu at Graze include bourbon-glazed carrot soup and a mac-and-cheese casserole. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
By SUSAN ERICSON
Now once again open for lunch, the Little Silver restaurant is luxuriously relaxed in pace, aesthetic and culinary concept, even as kitchen staffers thrive on challenging themselves to come up with dishes with a surprising twist.
An opulent short rib sandwich with fries, served in the spacious and comfortable dining room at Graze. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
Barn-red walls underscored with rustically finished wainscoting set a relaxed, farm-to-table atmosphere, conveying a feeling of dining in a country kitchen — and all this in the Markham Place strip mall.
The service is friendly, knowledgeable and polished, adding to a sense of well-being for diners. A menu filled with comfort food brings the experience of dining here as close as you can get to a warm hug from your mother.
“We’re just trying to put out good food in general while staying true to locality and what’s in season,” Chamon tells PieHole, adding that he and sous chef Chris Kirkwood prepare “as much as we can in-house, and that includes breaking down the animals, brining and pickling and making our own buttermilk and creme fraiche.”
Bourbon-glazed carrot soup ($6) is a good example. Roasting organic, in-season carrots was Chamon’s plan, but he gives credit to Kirkwood for adding a bourbon glaze to the carrots. The bourbon adds an enjoyable back-note to the pumpkin-colored bowlful, which is sublime in flavor and silky in texture.
Throw away your concept of gummy, flour-thickened sauce, because the macaroni-and-cheese rendition here is made sophisticated by a delicate, velvety consistency. The four-cheese variety ($12) is a big casserole-size serving of comfort food. Blanketed by buttery herb breadcrumbs and big pieces of parmesan shavings, the penne pasta is satisfying to the extreme.
Chamon’s concept of creating “real food classics, but with freshness,” can be seen in his example of a brisket sandwich ($12). It’s actually a play on a reuben made with brisket, corned in-house and served on rye bread with braised cabbage Swiss cheese and whole-grain mustard.
The short rib grilled cheese ($16) is made with tender, fall-off-the-bone braised beef — not a surprise — but here’s the scrumptious twist: brie and fresh apple slices, a favorite food pairing served ubiquitously. But by adding those two ingredients to a warm, crusty baguette smeared with melted blue cheese and stuffed with short rib meat, it is mad-scientist-genius.
With each big bite, every tastebud comes to attention. With savory meat, salty undertones of blue and brie cheeses, and a sweet crunch of apple surrounded by chewy, flavorful bread, it is a perfected meal.
An area of the menu for child-sized portions includes chicken fingers with fries, sliders, and items that we’d happily introduce our children to; steak frites and organic salmon. There is also a kids’ mac ‘n cheese offered with or without chicken.
Lunch at Graze is served Tuesday through Friday 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. It reopens for dinner at 5 p.m. and is BYOB.