Curtis Duffy's Grace Gets High Marks
by j.p. anderson
Restaurants open every week in this food-obsessed town of ours. But not since Grant Achatz’s Next burst onto the scene in early 2011 has a restaurant been as highly anticipated as Grace, the first solo effort from former Avenues chef Curtis Duffy.
Little wonder. At Avenues, the Columbus native’s exquisite seasonal cuisine garnered multiple four-star reviews and two Michelin stars; when Duffy announced in July 2011 that he would be leaving to open his own restaurant (and, in doing so, reach for that third star), local foodies immediately started licking their chops in anticipation. Nearly a year and a half later, Duffy’s dream has become a reality with Grace, a 64-seat Randolph Street destination. The name, says the chef, “embodies the style of food we produce, meaning that it’s elegant, it has refinement, there’s a gentleness to it.” To that end, the opening menu offers dishes such as toro with ginger, coconut, basil, pomelo, and lime, all nestled inside a thin cylinder made of ice; and a scallop dish livened with goat’s milk, hibiscus, and five elements of licorice. The restaurant also features what Duffy hopes is a level of service unmatched in the city, with all staff studying not just the food and wine programs, but every aspect of the restaurant’s design, down to the wood used in the doors. “It’s about knowledge and embracing and understanding the philosophy and the mind-set of the restaurant in its entirety,” Duffy says.
In a district packed with culinary heavyweights like Blackbird, Girl & the Goat, and, yes, Next, Grace will face no lack of competition. But Duffy isn’t intimidated; he is eager to take the risk of bucking the current diner/ burger trend by opening a serious fine dining establishment. “That’s what you do,” says Duffy. “If you’re not taking a risk, you’re not pushing yourself and you’re not pushing the food level.” Considering Duffy’s track record, it’s a risk that we’re betting pays off in a big way. 652 W. Randolph St., 312-234-9494
photography by anthony tahlier
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