the spot: Grace Meat + Three 4270 Manchester road St. Louis MO 63110
the eats: Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Cornbread, Collard Greens, Deviled Eggs, Fried Green Tomatoes
the bucks: $10-$15 a person
the full nelson: refined classic Southern food with a 21st century mindset
A few weeks ago I found myself back in St. Louis to see some old friends, my old baseball stadium and remind myself that the city with the Arch is and always will be my hometown. It’s been 25 years since I could call myself a local and the restaurant scene has certainly changed, and for the better. Grace Meat + Three is probably as fine an example of how the city’s food scene is evolving with the times while still being totally St. Louis: straight up comfort food that’s affordable and especially in the case of Grace, commands the respect of discriminating palates, like yours truly.
Chef Rick Lewis is the man behind Grace and his resume reads like a list of St. Louis restaurant young guns. Being someone who doesn’t get back often enough, I have never heard of Quincy Street Bistro or Southern, but they are both restaurants I’m adding to my watch list. At Southern, Chef Lewis fried up yardbird to great acclaim. As of my last visit, he definitely hasn’t lost his touch.
I’ve been to Grace Meat + Three on two separate occasions, both times I got the chicken. The first was in early 2020, before the pandemic. We ordered chicken, ribs, plenty of sides and lots of drinks. I had a blast that visit, bought some merch and enjoyed the food but wasn’t blown away. This most recent visit? I was BLOWN away. And it was because we waited a long time for the fried chicken.
20 some years ago I ordered fried chicken combo to go from a downtown Los Angeles eatery called Soul Folks. Their nickname was Slow Folks because they took forever for the food to come out of the kitchen. You know why I put up with Slow Folks aka Soul Folks? Their fried chicken rocked. Another time, also in Los Angeles, specifically South Los Angeles, I ordered fried chicken from a place called Harold’s Meat + Three. That also took a long time. The fried chicken was transcendent even though the sides were straight outta the cafeteria.
Grace Meat + Three also took a long time. And the fried chicken was simply tremendous. Crisp exterior with juicy flavorful meat. Like flavor to the bone. I wish I had fried chicken like this in Austin.
Growing up, I had a soft spot for Church’s fried chicken. Their chicken was so darn crisp and I preferred it over the Colonel aka Kentucky Fried Chicken. But the Colonel had my fav mashed potatoes and gravy, I mean I could have lived off that stuff. I can’t imagine getting fried chicken without getting mashed potatoes and my trips to Grace would reflect this tradition. I like to take my time taking pics of food and editing them but listen: the mashed potatoes at Grace are as good as they look.
Grace Meat + Three does a mac n cheese that appeals to the grown ups and the kids. From previous reviews I’ve read that Chef Rick uses both Velveeta and Gouda cheese. One of those combos that keeps the dish familiar and grounded while still giving it the old farm to table/fine dining technique try. Don’t skip this if you have crowd but be prepared to take some of this rib sticking side home.
After hosting a couple baking competition shows I can spot a good baked good. I enjoyed the cornbreads plenty at Grace Meat + Three. Like any great bake, well browned exterior and edges are clutch as is paring the sweet with a contrast kick of salt. Grace lists flake salt in their cornbread description and that’s a sign that they are taking their cornbread seriously.
I always feel compelled to order fried green tomatoes and I starting to wonder why. I suppose they seem like the right kinda dish to order when you’re going whole hog with a Southern fried chicken feast. My fav part of this dish was the smoky dipping sauce. Take it or leave it is my call here.
Technically it was the deviled egg. I love me some deviled eggs and Grace did my craving justice. It seems excessive to me to eat chicken and eggs in one sitting. It feels like I’m trying to eradicate a species by eating it at every stage of life. These are the things I think about while indulging in deviled eggs and fried chicken.
The first time I went to Grace Meat + Three I was simply looking for something easy that checked all the boxes while not skimping on the food. In general Midwest restaurants, heck the Midwest, is pretty family friendly. Still, for a place like Grace Meat + Three to offer counter ordering, a full bar and killer food worthy of a 30 min wait . . . this is a perfect storm of a restaurant and in the case of a St. Louis expat like me, a full blown case of restaurant jealousy.
Grace Meat + Three is a score for quality fried chicken with a laid-back yet hip set up. I suppose I should dock points for the fried chicken coming out kinda late. But that’s exactly why I love the place so much. Great fried chicken is always worth the wait. And I can’t wait to get back to Grace Meat + Three again.