Gray House welcomes intrepid diners

From goat to farmers' market fare, chef Ian Gray takes experimentation to a higher level

Gray's wife, Katie, is a manager and co-owner of the restaurant who also helps head the beer and wine program. Just like with the entrees and appetizers, the couple's relationships with local brewers, suppliers, and even reps seem to shape decisions about what's on tap, which means they have some unique options when it comes to beer. "When we learned about Epic out of Utah, we really identified with them," Gray says. "Each of their batches is totally different — they don't ever really stick to the same recipe, kinda like me." Thankfully Gray House serves half-pints, so it's a great place to try one or two (or three or four) new brews.

The couple is also working with local brewer Lucid to create custom firkins by making pulps out of different ingredients like ground cherry (also used in a light and lovely tuna tartare with lemongrass) and coriander or the most recent batch of apple, sage, bacon fat, and ginger that will go into a barrel of Lucid Air. "When it's all done we'll tap the firkin and sell it to the customers. It's a great collaboration."

Passion, vision, and philosophy aside, there are downsides to being so committed to Gray's style of of-the-moment seasonal cooking. "I think this winter is going to be a really worrying one for me," Gray says. "We're stocking up where we can on root vegetables, squash, that sort of thing, but the pace of how we do things will probably have to change a little." To prepare for his real pioneer experience, Gray plans to do more with Thousand Hills beef and look into trying to use his connections out East to get ahold of fresh seafood.

Get it while it lasts: Spanish bruschetta with poached egg, spinach, toast, and Serrano ham
E. Katie Holm
Get it while it lasts: Spanish bruschetta with poached egg, spinach, toast, and Serrano ham

Still, for someone who has accomplished so much in a relatively short time, Gray comes off pretty laid-back, but he has a clear focus on the future of the restaurant and the experience he is trying to create for neighborhood diners. "We want to be part of a whole story — for the people who helped raise our food to have a local connection, and for the people who eat that food to feel a connection to it. It all kind of closes the circle on food, drink, and company. We encourage people to come in and have a one-on-one experience with their food and with the person sitting across from them."

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