by Steven Doyle
Courtney and Brian Luscher are this amazing husband and wife team that make The Grape the legendary restaurant it is today. Their restaurant is 46-years old this month but have been owners since 2007. At the time they purchased the restaurant for its original owners, Kathy McDaniel and Charlotte Parker, the market crashed nearly the same day they signed papers of ownership.
“It was pretty scary. A lot of people lost their businesses and a lot of restaurants shut their doors. It was a death-toll ticker. It was really tough: There were days I didn’t know what we were going to do,” mentioned Luscher in an interview.
So the tiny urban bistro located on Lower Greenville Avenue which is known for this other-worldly fare, serious wines (Courtney is a sommelier), fantastic house-made charcuterie at a time when this simply was not done in Dallas, that simply luscious mushroom soup and the legendary burger that saved the day.
It was Texas Monthly that listed Luscher’s burger as the very best in the state, a burger only sold Sunday and Monday, that soon had guests lined up and out the door demanding a taste.
“We were selling like ten of these things a week,” he recalls. “I made my own bacon; we still make our own bacon. Rumors started flying that we were number one and it went crazy, like a tsunami. We did like 240 burgers that next Sunday.”
When times are difficult a small miracle can be inspiring. It certainly helps that Luscher is a seriously amazing chef, and his fare stands the test of time.
The menu at The Grape is ever changing and all very much house made. The bacon is stuff of legends. But that mushroom soup is super exciting, and on one of the first cool Fall evenings of the year — it soothes. We have the recipe below, but a visit to The Grape is always recommended.
The Grape’s Mushroom Soup
1.5 lbs button mushrooms, washed and finely chopped (easy to do in a food processor)
1/2 large onion, small diced
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
1 dry bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
1.5 qt beef broth or stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1. Melt better over medium low heat in a heavy bottomed soup pot.
2. Add onion, garlic, bay leaf and thyme, and cook until translucent.
3. Add chopped mushrooms and cook 6-8 minutes. You are watching for the moisture from the mushrooms to start to puddle on top.
4. Add the flour and stir well to avoid lumps.
5. Slowly whisk in broth or stock and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Continue stirring to prevent scorching.
6. When soup comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally.
7. Finish by adding the heavy cream and nutmeg, and add salt and pepper to taste.
8. Remove the thyme and bay leaf.