Grace’s Kitchen is the newest food addition to the University Village, taking over Zao Noodle’s prominent location. With high ceilings, large windows and classy finishes, I have been awaiting the opening of this 1-week old restaurant featuring classic American food.
My hopes and aspirations start to crumble as I walk in and immediately notice a swarm of agitated people.
I can tell the staff is having a bit of a rough day as people inquiring about seating are told there is a 30-minute wait, even though the restaurant appears to only be half-full. At one point, I see what appears to be more people in the waiting area than in the restaurant.
The wait ends up only being about 15 minutes, but unfortunately, a lot of people are not interested in waiting around.
Service: There is a slight bit of a University of Washington sorority and fraternity vibe, but the servers are all pretty amicable. Clad in gray t-shirts, low profile khaki aprons, cute jeans, and trendy shoes (Toms and Converse seem to be the preferred kicks), these youngsters make me feel comfortable and contribute to the ambiance of Grace’s Kitchen.
The staff seem to be hustling, but are clearly understaffed on their first Saturday lunch service. The kitchen is running behind big time as a hoard of servers congregate by the kitchen, waiting for food to come out. There is a lot of confusion on who ordered what as various servers attempt to bring us food we have not ordered.
When our food finally arrives, they bring out our appetizer at the same time of our entrees.
Food: With menu consultation from Seattle’s beloved Jerry Traunfeld, I expect more. I think my expectations may have been slightly on the unrealistic side as outdoor mall food tends to veer on the side of mainstream.
The menu consists of standard fare such as Caesar salads, BLT, and chicken wings. There are a couple of fun items on the menu such as ham and cheese croquettes and a chutney burger with Beecher’s cheddar, bacon, onion and you guessed it, chutney. The deviled eggs stuffed with salmon come out looking less than vibrant, but looks aren’t always everything. The chive and sour cream flavor compliment the subtle taste of salmon.
I order the Cobb salad which conversely comes out looking better than it tastes. The red wine vinaigrette dressing to lettuce ratio is skewed and the chicken tastes frigid and charred.
My eating companion orders the meatball hero with fries. The sandwich is palatable, but the fries are not. They taste like they have been mixing with old grease and most of the fries are a bit on the mushy side with a few strands that are fried to a daunting brown crisp.
Drink: Instead of a standard cocktail list, I find it clever the menu states “Ask your server about our selection of top shelf liquors and cocktails. We can probably make your favorite drink.” I order a Bloody Mary, only to be informed minutes later they are missing some of the ingredients needed to make the drink.
I settle for a cup of Stumptown drip coffee, which isn’t a bad alternative.
Ambiance: Although I am in love with the spaciousness associated with high ceilings and large windows, my enthusiasm is tempered by the acoustics. It is very loud and feels overwhelming to the point where I decide I would feel more relaxed sitting inside the nearby Pottery Barn Kid’s store.
Conclusion: Grace’s Kitchen gets the award for best dressed eatery in the Village, but as my mom always told me growing up, it’s not just about looks.
As I bike past some of the other restaurants in the University Village which are packed with happy diners, I surmise Grace has some catching up to do before it will stack up against the rest of the average eating spots in the University Village.
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week. For hours, call 206.524.3071.
My recommendation for U-Village dining: I love picking up a slice of Delfino’s Chicago-style pizza for some pre or post-shopping nourishment. The interior is nothing to write home about so I like to take a piece to-go and eat it on-the-go. The Stuffed Spinach variation is my favorite.