We are at the point in our marriage where the small gestures count more than extravagance. Brewing coffee on Saturday morning, reading the paper together in our comfy kitchen chairs, pointing out the stories that mean something to us, and occasionally reading them to each other. Dancing in the living room to a favorite song on iTunes. Sharing a hamburger on the day before Valentineâ€™s at a restaurant that never fails to make us happy. These are all comfortable and simple things.
We celebrated Valentinesâ€™ Day at 5:30 p.m. yesterday at The Grape on Greenville Avenue. The restaurant serves what Texas Monthly claims to be â€œThe Best Hamburger in Texas.â€ And while these might be fightinâ€™ words to some, we canâ€™t argue with the claim. Itâ€™s the best weâ€™ve had in years. But, thereâ€™s more for The Grape to brag about than their toasty, juicy, white cheddar cheese-covered burger. We just seem fall in love all over again every time we sit at their table. Breaking the experience down into its composite parts just adds more mystery. The bar is intimate and eclectic, yet distinctively French in itâ€™s ambiance. One wall has the current wine list scrawled on blackboards high above the bar stools. The narrow passageway leading in from Greenville Avenue, not unlike stepping off a Paris alleyway, is unpretentious and comforting. The bartender knows how to make one of the oldest cocktails in the world: a Parisian Sidecar. The wine list holds its own with the bistro menu.
The restaurant interior is tiny by Dallas standards. Itâ€™s dinner with your best friends, though you may only know the person sharing your table. The menu changes monthly to accommodate the seasons, but a few dishes remain and continue to charm: the lamb tartines, the bistro mussels, Coutrneyâ€™s salad, mushroom soup, and grilled Ahi tuna. And, of course, the nonpareil Sunday/Monday night hamburger special.
Last night we sat on the patio where our favorite waiter, Matt Dean, was serving. We talked about the rehabilitation of Terilliâ€™s across the street, thrilled that the developers and owners were keeping the 1920s Spanish eclectic faÃ§ade. We watched motorcyclists excitedly gather and gab outside at bars nearby. Last eveningâ€™s Grape patrons were a mix of young couples, some with their children, groups of older women, and a daughter treating her parents to the white cheddar burger with hand cut fries. It was familiar and somehow new all over again. Itâ€™s these infinitesimal shadings in life shared with someone who cares about them the way you do that construct a love that lasts a lifetime. Thank you, Grape, for being our valentine!