Culinary mash-ups make this menu shine.
Five spice pork lacquered like Peking duck, pistachio dukkah, cranberry gastrique and a crab fritter inspired by Puerto Rican street food are just a few of the highlights on Grace Winery’s winter menu.
That food may seem adventurous for a restaurant housed in a 1700-era manor house, but it is perfectly in sync with executive chef Dan Wood’s culinary creativity. “I’m not going to say that I’ve perfected a dish that is cultures and cultures away from me,” Wood said. “But I’ve seen it and worked with it enough to know the flavors, what they are supposed to be and how they are supposed to taste.”
Wood isn’t appropriating those traditions. Instead, he uses them as a starting point to paint outside the cultural box and make new flavor combinations. “I could do French classical and that’d be great, especially because I was trained in that, albeit in the hills of Virginia,” Wood said with a laugh. “But I want to do things that are new and challenging to keep our diners interested – and satisfied.”
One of Wood’s plates is a culinary crossroads of pork belly with five spice rub, sweet and sour bread pudding and cranberry gastrique. Wood makes the five spice rub from scratch, then applies it to the pork. After marinating for 24 hours, the pork’s skin is topped with rock salt and cooked. “It develops a red, dark hue that looks lacquered and has a huge crunch,” Wood said.
Wood’s crab fritter with sofrito, crab roe remoulade, Sazon spice and chili oil is a remix of a Puerto Rican cod fritter. Swapping crab for cod gave Wood different flavor opportunities. “Crab has a similar texture to salted cod, and I did keep the traditional batter, but the end result has a more complex taste,” he said.
Wood’s vegetarian entrée is a chestnut curry with cauliflower steak as its base. “It’s a super classic Indian curry with freshly roasted chestnut, a little chickpea and a fried, lightly seasoned cauliflower steak,” Wood said.
Halloumi cheese, which originated in Cyprus, stars in an appetizer that combines roasted apple, pickled persimmon and arugula. “The tartness from apple works with the sweetness from pureed persimmon and acidity from the pickle, and the fried halloumi cheese,” Wood said. “Everything hits together.”
Another example: halibut with kumquat and fennel salad, quince paste, kohlrabi and pistachio dukka. Never heard of dukka? It’s an Egyptian-inspired blend of seeds, spices and, in this case, pistachio.
Pair Grace’s wines with each dish, and the result is a five star meal. Wine is this restaurant’s significant other; marrying the vineyard’s creations with the kitchen’s completes the gastronomic experience.
As for desserts, Wood created a toffee pudding with fig sauce and maple ice cream, all made in Grace’s kitchen. Wood’s other sweet offering is an eggnog pot de crème. “The basis of eggnog is pot de crème, it’s just not cooked,” Wood explained. “Fire a topping on the custard and add vanilla bean tuile and cinnamon, and it’s a great dessert.”
Wood’s three-course, prix fixe menu is $65 per person. Dinner is served on Friday and Saturday nights in two seatings at 6 pm and 8 pm. Reservations are required.
The Manor House Dining Room
50 Sweetwater Road, Glen Mills