Thursday, Jan. 25, 2007

Grace’s brings fine-dining to Bowie

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Brenda Ahearn⁄The Star
Grace Tang, Beren Luo and Beverly Foo are the owners and manager of Grace’s, a new fusion restaurant in Bowie. Tang’s other Bowie business, Grace’s Fortune, has been a favorite Chinese restaurant for years.
Grace’s is not just a new restaurant, it is a dining experience. Owner Grace Tang is well known as the operator of Grace’s Fortune in Bowie, a traditional Chinese fine-dining restaurant that is located about five miles from Grace’s. Although the two restaurants are close in distance, they are worlds apart in their look and cuisine.

Tang is originally from Hong Kong and immigrated to the U.S. in the 1980s. After 17 years in the restaurant business, Tang wanted to open another restaurant and do something new. The theme of Grace’s is fusion — the restaurant’s menu is a contemporary combination of American and Asian cuisine with top notch service and careful attention to detail.

Like its owner, and like its sister restaurant, Grace’s is a class act. Wait staff come by to place your napkin on your lap as you sit down, and you are given warm towels to clean your hands before beginning the meal. The décor is modern and sleek. The lounge is outfitted with high definition televisions and the two dining areas are separated by a long, glass-encased wine rack. Elegant Asian vases sit atop the wine rack and the lighting is subdued.

Grace’s actually has three kitchens. There is a sushi bar that has its own kitchen. Customers can order sushi at the bar or anywhere in the restaurant. The rest of the restaurant is split between two dining styles — fine-dining and teppanyaki.

The teppanyaki is served at marble-topped hibachi tables. Everything goes on the tabletop grill, as the chef prepares your meal right before your eyes. As is usually the case with teppanyaki, the meal is also a performance that begins with a the chef creating a (controlled) burst of flame on the grill.

Teppanyaki chefs manage to cook, entertain and field questions all at once, so this makes for a unique dining experience. You can choose from entrees like chicken ($18), hibachi steak ($22) or mahi-mahi ($24) or specialties such as Splash ‘N Meadow (steak and grilled shrimp, $29) or Grace’s Marina (grilled shrimp, calamari and ocean scallops, $35). Meals come with soup, salad, an appetizer, vegetables and rice and homemade dipping sauces that Trish Russo of Silver Spring described as ‘‘exquisite.”

Those who want delicious food without the tabletop cooking experience can opt for the dining room where selections are divided between small and big plates.

Tang highly recommends crab cake ($26), saying that it is very good but not heavy. The restaurant has taken a Maryland favorite and given it some Asian flair. Other entrees like the filet migon with oregano and lemongrass sauce ($32) or the grilled lamb rack Asian style ($26) also combine American and Asian sensibilities.

The grilled wild salmon with wild mushroom ($18) has a very elegant presentation — high quality salmon topped with mushrooms and a caviar-filled lettuce leave with an orchid garnish.

Although the restaurant just opened last month, it has already become a lunchtime favorite.

‘‘Lunchtime is really busy,” says waitress Beverly Foo of Crofton. The lunchtime menu offers pad Thai (vegetable, $9; shrimp, $12) , soups and sushi lunch specials.

Tang notes that besides serving good food, Grace’s provides a well-appointed meeting and dining space. In addition to its other dining areas, Grace’s boasts a private meeting room and a lounge.

The private meeting room is perfect for businesses who want to entertain clients right in Prince George’s County, without having to travel to the city. She also suggests that the lounge with its sleek look and ambience is a great if you are looking for an upscale setting to meet a date for drinks.

Tang admits that she has put a lot into one space, and says she was inspired by her own desire for stylish fine-dining close to home.

‘‘I go out to eat a lot,” she says. ‘‘I couldn’t find fine-dining like this [in Prince George’s County]. I had to go to D.C. or Baltimore.”

So she decided to open the kind of restaurant she had been looking for.

‘‘I love this area. I have a lot of friends here. Now I do not have to go so far.”