When you say the words "French cuisine", what words come to mind? Pretentious? Snobby? Strange ingredients? Not for me? All of these descriptions may be true of some French restaurants (as indeed, they are unfortunately true of too many restaurants in general), but what would you say to food that is classically elegant, relatively affordable, and above all, delivered in a decidedly unstuffy atmosphere? Well, culinary wars veteran Gregory Moreaux has just opened his own shop in historic downtown Plano, and my lovely wife the Rock Star and myself traveled there one recent noontide in search of a leisurely paced lunch.
Nestled in the heart of a very charming block, Gregorys is a narrow storefront built on three levels, with a smallish (50 patrons or so) main dining room, a private room upstairs, and even a rooftop bar which we would very much like to investigate on a warmer day. Parking out front is rather limited, but entrance can also be gained from the communal lot behind the store. Take care in entering from the rear as the hallway is quite narrow and collisions can occur if you are not looking. The interior is rather spartan but well appointed and quite cozy, giving the feeling of dining in an historic townhome. Chris the maitre'd and The Owner Himself welcomed us quite effusely and led us to our table near the front, the better to view the complete charm that is downtown Plano.
Simple country fare is the order of the day at Gregorys, and most lunchtime choices are right around the $10 mark. I always listen to my lovely wife's suggestions, and when she decided on the soup of the day as a starter, I decided to renew my license as a registered soupaholic and join her. In short order, bowls of butternut squash potage were paced before us, along with some delightfully crusty French (what else?) bread, and we began to enjoy. The creamy soup boasted just a touch of curry and whetted our appetite quite nicely for the entrees to follow. Our excellent waiter (no I cannot remember his name; this happens when you get older) gave us the leisurely pacing we had requested and took care of our wine needs as well. (Gregorys is BYOB until after the first of the year, when a full wine list is promised.) We had chosen a chateauneuf-du-pape for our quaff, and were very pleased that this delightful French blend of Grenach and Syrah could accompany our light fare, thus proving that the red-with-red-meat-white-with-white stereotype is a guideline, not a rule. (It also helped that it was served at European room temperature, which is actually close to 60 degrees.) In due course, our entrees arrived. The Rock Star was throughly delighted with her penne pasta with shrimp, spinach, and feta cheese tossed in a basil butter sauce, and I enjoyed my skin-on grilled chicken breast on a bed of couscous with asparagus and spicy tomato sauce. (Honestly I would have enjoyed just a little more spice and a little more sauce, but that's just me.) We don't often order dessert at the noon hour, but what's a Gallic gustatory gathering without creme brulee? We split a tiny but very satisfying portion and declared our repast worthy of Monet himself. (In other words, it left quite an impression.)
Gregory promises to offer wine tastings and cooking classes in the new year and the staff at Gregorys could give lessons in caring for patrons as well. Make sure you greet your customers warmly, take the time and trouble to show a genuine interest in your customers and what they have to say, and always be available without hovering. Oh and it doesn't hurt that your owner is happy to seat patrons himself, periodically check on their needs, and even take phone reservations quite cheerfully. In fact, I could probably count on one hand the number of DFW establishments where the service level is this good.
Check out Gregorys website at www.gregorysrestaurant.net soon, as this young upstart in the dining wars will likely get popular quickly. Reserve your unstuffy little corner of French heaven soon, and don't forget:
LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR MEDIOCRE FOOD!!!