Restaurant News & Reviews

First look: New version of Graze has opened in The Woodlands with new menu

Graze at The Woodlands

A fine dining experience with fresh food offered to customers at the newly opened Graze at The Woodlands in downtown Lexington.
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A fine dining experience with fresh food offered to customers at the newly opened Graze at The Woodlands in downtown Lexington.

The new location of Graze, the restaurant that started as a meat counter with a small cafe in Winchester, has opened in Lexington.

The new spot inside The Woodlands includes a 3,000-square-foot dining room plus a bar and patio and on-site parking.

Chef Craig de Villiers officially opened the new restaurant on Tuesday, about five months after closing a smaller version on Limestone. Last month he also closed his original location, putting everything into one spiffed up new spot.

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The bar in the newly opened at Graze features a fireplace, comfortable seating and a cozy feel. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

The new Graze is in the former home of The Julep Cup, which was redone from top to bottom with a light, airy feel that extends to the doors opening onto the covered patio. The restaurant also has a glass walled room with seating for up to 20 that can be booked for private parties. The restaurant seats 140, including the patio and bar.

“Our vision came to reality here,” said co-owner Damion Scott. “When Craig started this in 2013 ... he had a vision, wanted to do things his own way and was able to get that done, and now we have this beautiful space and it feels like home for us.”

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Server and bartender Jacob Tow, of Lexington, sets tables on the covered patio at the newly opened at Graze. The restaurant opens directly onto the patio overlooking a fountain. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

It’s a big shift for Scott and de Villiers, who are pulling together the best of their two previous versions for this new Graze. The menu will feature things that fans kept coming back for at the other locations.

Such as the Carolina Fries, an appetizer with braised pork shoulder, kale slaw, queso blanco and barbecue sauce that was a hit on Limestone. The burger, steaks and bolognese sauce that diners loved at the original location are on the menu too.

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The antipasto plate made with grapes, cambozola and smoked gouda cheese, pecans, prosciutto, sopressata, artichokes, olives, dried apricots and fig jelly at the newly opened at Graze restaurant. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

But there are new twists, such as the curry chicken meatballs and the curry-roasted vegetables.

“We’re still ‘global comfort food.’ I guess because of our look we’re fine dining, but we do our best to get local ingredients at all times. But our menu’s bigger,” Scott said. “The great part is we’ll have a standard menu now. But Craig will still add specials. With artists, you don’t want them to get bored.”

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The Cucumber Ricky made with muddled cucumber and mint, lime juice, gin and ginger beer is on the cocktail menu at the newly opened at Graze. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

With the new roomier setup, de Villiers hopes to offer house-cured meats on the menu and eventually for taking home as well. Graze also is serving its own housemade pasta.

Scott said they are grateful for their loyal following, which has already begun to come back despite a five-month absence.

The restaurant had a soft opening last week then officially opened Tuesday. It is open for dinner every night except Sunday for the next few weeks.

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The Maple Rosemary Bourbon made with fresh lemon, muddled rosemary, maple syrup and bourbon also is on the cocktail menu at the newly opened at Graze. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

In a few weeks they plan to add lunch and weekend brunch, Scott said.

And unlike the previous location on Limestone, the Graze at The Woodlands has plenty of parking in front, right out back or farther back. Scott said that once the place gets cooking, he may arrange for valet parking on busy nights.

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