Restaurant Review: Down on Grayson

A few years ago, Will and I made a pact to try new restaurants, instead of sticking to the same old places. In true-to-life fashion, we got obsessed and tried a ton of new places, including food trucks, hole-in-the-wall places, James Beard-recognized places, eleventy-billion burger places, and a restaurant that served goat and had it described thus in a restaurant guidebook: “a flavor that’s wild and primal, like angry sex.” Umm…appetizing? (Side note: we tried it and didn’t notice anything particularly ragey about it.)

Anyway, fast-forward to now. We don’t get out as much as we did once-upon-a-time; therefore, when we do go out, it deserves documentation and careful review/critique. I had the opportunity to try Down on Grayson this past week with a phenomenally awesome group of ladies (Another side note: did you know that phenom is a noun, all by itself, not short for anything? #themoreyouknow #whatilearnedtoday), my JLSA small cluster.

So, here’s what I had/shared with others:

  • Kentucky Lemonade
  • Double Dip (chips with guac and pimento cheese)
  • Crispy Chicken Sandwich
  • Brussel sprouts

Okay, I have to admit, I don’t know if they are called Brussels sprouts and that “s” is silent. I would think that’s correct, and in the amount of time it took me to type this sentence, I probably could have googled the answer, but I didn’t. So, someone else tell me – or else just google it for me and let me know.

The Food:   The best thing I ate overall was the pimento cheese, and I totally have high standards for pimento cheese. Until I was about 28 years old, I didn’t really know pimento cheese existed besides the kind that you buy pre-made in the grocery store in the little plastic container, which…. bleh. No explanation needed; I’ve just never been a fan. This pimento cheese was homemade and amazing. I plead the fifth as to whether I abandoned chips and just sneaked pimento cheese with my fork.

The crispy chicken sandwich was enthusiastically recommended by our waiter (more on him later), but it was just okay. Nothing special…. just a regular sandwich. I didn’t even finish the whole thing; I ended up taking the second half home for Will.

The Brussels sprouts (I’m going with my gut and using the third “s” here)…I confess to having mixed feelings regarding them. Besides the couple of forkfuls I shared with one of my friends, I did eat pretty much every last leaf, so they were pretty good. However, I objectively consider them to be too salty. My favorite Brussels sprouts in the world are from Zaytinia (in DC), and they serve theirs with a lemon-y sauce that is light and complements the flash-fried sprouts. Down on Grayson served theirs with a salty-spicy aioli that added to the overall saltiness and was a little too strong for my taste (although not so strong that I would decide to abandon them obvi).

Rating: I’d rate the food a 7.5 out of 10 probably. Good enough that I would go back, but not “I’m-going-to-go-back-tomorrow” good.

The Drinks: Somehow, I’ve had a lot (relatively a lot – two in the last two months) of drinks lately that have contained whiskey. I had a Caramello at Folc, and then this Kentucky Lemonade (knob creek bourbon · peychaud’s bitters · strawberry · lemon juice). I actually liked it a lot. I was the self-appointed speaker at this meeting, so it got watered down a little while I was talking/shouting/pontificating, but that’s my fault, not the restaurant’s. I fully accept blame for letting a good drink go semi-melty.

Kentucky Lemonade at Down on Grayson

Als0, probably not on many rating chart for restaurant drinks unless your last name is Stone and then you are guaranteed to turn into a camel any time you’re at the dinner table (am I right, Emily and Abby?) but they were really good about keeping our water glasses and carafes filled, so high marks for that as well.

Rating: 9 out of 10. I’d definitely order this drink again, and possibly even learn to make it at home. It was a really good blend of refreshing, sweet-but-not-too-sweet and made me feel more “grown up” than drinking a margarita or a Pimm’s cup (which, hello, Anglophile here, was going to be my second choice).

The Atmosphere: I would love to go back here sometime soon and eat in the outdoor area. Our group met inside, which was also very nice and much cooler than the great outdoors. The decor is spot-on, and the high ceilings ensure that it doesn’t feel crowded, even though there was a steady stream of patrons throughout the evening. I also thought the staff was extremely, extremely nice. The hostesses didn’t flinch at setting up a table for 10; the bartender lent me a pen for the duration of the night (side note to the bartender if you happen to read this, and it’s obvi a world-famous blog, so why wouldn’t you?: I didn’t see you when I was leaving but I put the pen back at the bar and told the hostess, so I hope you received it. If not, I’ll bring you a pen next time I come in). Our waiter was so young and polite and enthusiastic. I am assuming he was older than 12, but you can tell I’m getting old, old, old because he looked so childliketo me. It was his first time handling a large group, and he tried so hard and was so kind.

I call this “Totally inept sneak-attack photography by me”

Rating: 9 out of 10. Very friendly people, fun place to hang out. I only didn’t give it full marks because it was not extremely acoustically-friendly and I had to shout to be heard during my dynamic and exciting meeting presentation, and also because the food was a little slow to come out (probably because the group was so large and they’re still working out some kinks).

Whew! So there’s my first-ever, super-official, total-subject-matter-expert restaurant review. No primal goat served to me at this meal = good. Drinks, pimento cheese and service = very good. The company of my latest group of gorgeous, intelligent mentees = excellent.  Tell me your favorite restaurants, and next time I/we get out of the house, I want to check them out!

Down on Grayson: 303 East Grayson, San Antonio; Sun-Wed 11am-10pm; Thu-Sat 11am-11pm


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