Wild Grape. It is the kind of place you could spend hours at just enjoying the food and company. The space was comfortable and the ambiance was fun and casual. The art on the walls gave the restaurant a nice touch. The open ceiling gave it a quasi-modern feeling. The open kitchen wasn’t “on-stage” but we were able to see the food being prepared. Of course we noticed the grapes growing outside on the patio: how appropriate.
When we sat down at our table I noticed a dirty coffee mug greeting us. This was kind of a bummer. I mean who was the person who left it on the table for a customer to use?! This did not present any major set-back, but small details could certainly add up. Fortunately everything else seemed to be crystal clean.
Our server approached our table and seemed a bit disinterested in serving us and therefore didn’t really put any effort into us. I wish he would have cared more about my guests and me. Was he distracted? I know we all have those days, but what a pity. Our interactions with him didn’t really take away from our experience at Wild Grape, but it certainly didn’t add to it either. Nevertheless, we didn’t have to wait long to order or to get our food and the plates were cleared away quickly. Am I expecting too much?
I bet you are wondering what we ordered, no? We came at a time when we were able to order breakfast and lunch items, which included huevos rancheros, brioche French toast, and a wood grilled spiced lamb burger. Overall the freshness depended upon the dish that was ordered.
The huevos rancheros wasn’t exceptionally fresh. I mean, let’s be honest – it was a dish that had canned or smashed up beans, eggs, and tortillas with an after-thought of cheese sprinkled over it. When I inquired about getting some avocado or guacamole, they did provide fresh avocados that made up slightly for being a less than desirable dish. There wasn’t anything fancy about this Wild Grape specialty. It was just a plate stacked with eggs and fried tortillas. It didn’t even look appetizing – there wasn’t any color on the plate – no salsa, no sour cream, no avocados. It was not impressive. What was so special about this specialty? Something could be spruced up more to add more dimension to the dish, because it was just bland. Maaan, it had so much potential. I am hoping that Wild Grape can take a look at what they are offering and ask themselves, “How can we make this even better?” They have a good foundation, but they aren’t grasping it. Bummer. I hate being disappointed.
As for the lamb burger the ingredients were fresh and were of high-quality. One of my guests reports on the lamb burger: “The red onion, lettuce and tomato were flavorful and fresh. The French fries were hot and perfectly crisp. I ordered the lamb burger well-done. It was flavorful and moist, not dry. The spiced lamb went nicely with the tzatziki (a Greek yogurt base) sauce. I would have liked it to be a bit spicier. The gluten-free bun had impressively great flavor, but became flat half way through eating my burger which made it difficult to hold (I ended up having to use my fork to finish my burger). It is worth trying, as it’s hard to find GF bread that actually tastes good. The presentation of the burger was simple. The flavors complemented each other well, especially the spiced lamb with the cool tzatziki. The fries and the fry sauce were also a nice pair. Some sliced avocados would be a perfect addition to this dish.”
My other guest didn’t know what to expect upon ordering the brioche French toast, but she figured it was a safe bet to order since her school cafeteria makes a decent French toast. Therefore, she thought the Wild Grape ought to be able to pull it off even better. In the end she thought it tasted pretty great. Great enough, in fact, that she would like the recipe. Although, if she were to make it herself she would add more spices, perhaps to make the flavors more seasonal. For example, right now a dash more of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves could be the secret weapon and come summer lemon zest would be an appropriate addition to the egg batter. Beyond that, it was suggested that Wild Grape ought to provide enough syrup where she could pour it on without having to be stingy.
To recap, the food overall was decent, but everything has room for improvement. There is so much potential looming. What is the issue? Everybody we met was friendly enough: hostess, server, kitchen manager, but I didn’t see the spark in anyone’s eyes. Maybe that spark is the missing secret ingredient.
Rating – I would be willing to return to see if they reach their potential some time down the road.