The time had arrived yet again for BDT to embark on another merry excursion to the sprawling, vapid suburb of Plano TX. We’d heard tale of a great European style pub dubbed The Holy Grail and were on a mission to find it. Rarely treading in Plano’s pretentious waters, we only had a vague idea of what to expect once there. Could such a sacred pub exist in this cultural desert? Shall it possess miraculous beers and food stuffs? The only way to be sure was to make the journey and find out for ourselves.
As we made our way up the NTTW, beyond the gaudy Shops at Legacy and onward to the cusp of affected Frisco our hopes of finding anything more than a unpalatable franchise style restaurant crudely disguised as a European pub grew dimmer with every glittering strip center we passed.
Then… through the haze belching from the herds of gas guzzling luxury SUV’s… there it was… in the not so distant distance, smack in the middle of yet another one of the many conspicuously designed, soulless strip centers it was found at 8240 Preston Rd. We had finally arrived. With our odyssey seemingly complete, we had no idea our adventure was only about to begin. We located the entrance hidden amongst the endless rows of insipid storefronts. There stood a single faux aged wooden door. Behind it’s pretence lay an anomaly.
One step inside and my first impression was of the décor. It is not authentic to a European pub. It’s more of a high gloss tribute, though thankfully unassuming. The owners claim it to be pub “inspired”, so I’ll give them a pass on that one. In spite of the first impression, the full house on a Thursday evening gave us our first clue that this place may actually live up to the lore.
We quickly grabbed the only 4 top available. Although it was near the back of the long narrow tavern next to the kitchen door and bathrooms, it ended up prevailing as the best seat in the house thanks to our amazing server and as it turns out, fellow KC native Renee. From the start we knew we were in for a treat. Friendly and helpful, she went to work immediately taking our drink order. It’s not easy to make a quick choice as this place boasts a very impressive list of favorites – over 170 to be exact, with seasonal and rotating brews as well. Here you’ll find some favorites from great breweries like Green Flash that you just can’t find other places and at a price lower than you’d expect. There’s also a long menu with a huge selection of Scotch and Irish whiskeys that you would hope to find in a decent pub, also with ridiculously reasonable prices.
Mirthful with cold suds in hand, we now steadily march toward the feast. The menu was absolutely impressive. It’s almost a crime to call this bar food. We started with the soft pretzel twist appetizers which were delicious. They came with a side of stone ground mustard and a truffle béchamel cheese sauce. They are doughier than I’m used to and have less coarse salt than I prefer… but they were amazingly fresh and literally melt in your mouth.
Next up the wonderful Renee brought our main course. Let’s start with the Cali Burger. We’d heard this is the benchmark. It comes with the usual fare, plus avocado, fresh jalapeños and Spanish Manchego cheese. The meat has a wonderful seasoning and was cooked to perfection. The fries had the perfect combination of seasoning and crunch. Over all it was a very solid burger and one I would come back to – after trying all of the others of course.
We also ordered the Charbroiled Chicken Skewers. They are marinated chicken cubes, green peppers, mushrooms, red onions and tomatoes skewered on top of mashed potatoes and served with garlic aioli dipping sauce. This dish is amazing. The chicken marinade is superb. The meat was cooked perfectly and was super juicy and tender. The veggies (especially the mushrooms) were amazing by themselves but became really crazy good when dipped in the aioli sauce. The mashed potatoes were possibly some of the best I’ve ever had.
How about a Brisket Melt? This thing had house made beer braised beef brisket on grilled sourdough with caramelized onions, white cheddar and Russian dressing. Now that’s a fucking sandwich! This was an overall perfect combination of ingredients that was prepared and served without flaw.
Finally, the Pulled Pork Sandwich was superb as well. Roasted pork shoulder served on sourdough with coleslaw and Yucatan onions made this beast up. Spicy and sweet, this sandwich may be the best of its kind. Amazing job with the pork!
Last but not least, the desserts were wonderful. Coffee and Doughnuts – espresso mousse served with homemade buttermilk doughnut holes. These flaky pastries tasted bakery fresh. It’s a good thing they are served with so much mousse, since we ended up eating it up like ice cream.
After our bellies were overstuffed with everything that is good and decent, we regrettably readied ourselves to venture back out into the obtrusiveness that is northwest Plano. The atmosphere inside The Holy Grail made us all forget where we actually were for a few hours (Due largely in part to the amazing Renee who was keeping it real because she keeps it real.) As we shuffled through the still full house toward the door, reality began to set in. We passed endless groups of aging soccer moms with surgically altered faces resembling condoms stretched over pumpkins. We spotted yuppies from Frisco who are obviously “new money”. There were single people, couples, families and just about every situation, scenario and stereotype you can think of.
It’s so rare to find a place with an amazing selection of beer that also has such an amazing kitchen. Most times it’s either one or the other. I suppose it’s also just as rare to find a place like this, with terrific prices like this, in an area comprised of neighborhoods full of McMansions, where culture doesn’t exist and reality is hidden behind a thin veil of wealth. We thought it couldn’t happen. It couldn’t exist. But it does. The Holy Grail is an oasis in this uninspired dessert, and its occupants are from all walks of life. It is worth the pilgrimage.
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