A new restaurant quietly opened in Church Hill during the fourth week of August. The restaurant is Grisette, a neighborhood eatery serving upscale food that's modeled on (and named for) French bouchons.
At Grisette, you'll find a small, rotating menu where seasonal ingredients dictate the selection; you'll find a warm, inviting interior, craft beer and cocktails, and an approachable, diverse wine list with a strong by the glass list in addition to the bottles.
Here's what you won't find at Grisette: nearly anything on the menu priced at $20, or $25, or $30, or more.
"We want to be a truly great restaurant, at a lower price point," said Donnie Glass, who co-owns the 48-seat restaurant with his wife, Megan. "As a general concept, we aim to compete on a level with the Alewifes, the Brenner Passes, the Longovens of Richmond, just at a lower price point."
The menu at Grisette changes weekly, but the opening menu included steak frites ($19), goat cheese and black pepper tortellini ($13), tomato tart ($11) and fried pig tails ($14). The entrees are in addition to the cheese and charcuterie selection, plus daily chalkboard specials.
On Mondays, the restaurant serves a three-course prix fixe menu for $22.
"We just want to be a place for people who want to eat delicious food," Glass said. "A place where you can get a $6 wine and $10 plate of two cheeses at happy hour and come out feeling like you got a good value."
In order to keep the price point low, Glass said he's using cuts of meat that are less popular - and in some cases, whole parts of the animal that are less popular, such as pig tails.
"It’s not about eating more animals, but about eating more of the animal," he said.
Of course, Glass said he's aware that not every diner will be comfortable ordering pig tail or liver or head cheese.
"There’s a ton of fear that it’s going to be off-putting," he said, "however we’ve been open for a full week - and we’re selling a lot of pig tail and liver. And it’s not all we do. But are we afraid that people won't come in because of it? Yes. We are very afraid. We’d be fools not to be."
Still, keeping the price point affordable was more important to Glass and Megan than a menu with more traditional meat cuts.
"It was mainly because we like to eat out," Megan said. "It’s an accessibility thing - a lot of people, including us, can't afford to spend $100 or $150 to eat out."
"The price point thing was a conscious decision," Glass said.
Price wasn't the only nontraditional decision the couple made with their first restaurant. The other is only opening five days a week - and being closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"We had be closed two days a week," Megan said. "We didn’t want to have a JV squad. It’s our first restaurant. We wanted everyone to be here for whenever we’re open."
"Everyone who walks out that door should be able to say 'I feel good about myself and my experience,'" Glass said. "And that includes the staff. There are decisions you make for money, but first you have to make decisions for the people who work for you. If we can make decisions about employees and guests for the first 6 months, I believe that money will come."
Grisette is not offering brunch service on the weekends, but instead opening at noon for drinks and charcuterie.
"I don’t want anything to do with brunch, but I want everything to do with people coming in for a good cocktail," Glass said.
The couple met in Charlottesville where they worked together at Public Fish & Oyster restaurant. The two are originally from Northern Virginia; Megan ended up in Charlottesville to attend the University of Virginia and Donnie Glass came by way of VMI, then Johnson & Wales. They moved to Richmond in 2017 to open a restaurant.
"Richmond is big enough to have different options," Glass said. "It's not about being a big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond; it's about being a medium fish in an awesome pond.
Grisette is at at 3119 E. Marshall St. and open Thursday through Monday at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at noon.