Upscale Comfort Food with Superb Wine Comes To Murrieta & !$#& #%"& Le Grange Grill and Cellars, which opened earlier this summer in the former Plowboys building in Murrieta, is fast becoming a hopping spot for wonderful food and wine. We recently sampled both and weâ€™ll be going back again and again. Launched by well-known local couple, Doug and Debbie Wiens, Le Grange is the latest venture for this entrepreneurial, capable duo. Doug is the Director of Winemaking at Wiens Family Cellars in Temecula and also at Orange Coast Winery, which Deb% %&$#&& %#!&#%"!&&% bie and Doug opened several years "$#%&" %&$#&%$"! ago in Orange County. Of course, Doug also heads winemaking at Le Grange. His talented son, Joe, is the Winemaker at all three wineries. The restaurantâ€™s General Manager is Bonnie Tyler whose experience and friendly approach are also assets to this new venture. The name â€œLe Grangeâ€? means â€œbarn or gathering placeâ€? in French. France is special to Doug and Debbie because that is where they went on their honeymoon. (While â€œLaâ€? is the correct prefix in French, the Wiens chose â€œLeâ€? to avoid copyright infringements.) The spacious setting at Le Grange is open and modern but still exudes a rustic country flair. There is abundant indoor and outdoor seating with a long, welcoming bar. We were impressed
to learn that Doug had made all the stylish wooden and metal furniture. Le Grange wine has its own exclusive label and a wine tasting room is connected to the restaurant. Right now Le Grange offers 14 of its own wines and also some excellent outside labels. The Le Grange staff is well trained in suggesting ideal wine pairings for the dishes they serve. Le Grange has an active wine club that offers a variety of benefits, including complimentary wine tastings, parties for members, discounts in the restaurant, and, significantly, a 30 percent discount on any purchase of a case of wine. Both the wine tasting room and the restaurant also offer some outstanding Wiens beers. The Wiens Brewery is right down the street in Murrieta. We met Le Grangeâ€™s personable new Executive Chef, Robert Haney, who brings a wealth of experience and creativity to his position. Most recently, Chef Robert was a chef at Avensole Winery and before that at the Gambling Cowboy. He fondly recalls that his love of cooking was inspired by his Sicilian grandmother who taught him prepping techniques while sharing her wonderful Sicilian recipes. He then worked in a variety of restaurant positions (from dishwasher to online cook) in Ohio before he attended culinary school in California. Chef Robert describes Le Grange as an â€œupscale pub that serves creative comfort food.â€? He loves working with Debbie and Doug who he says are â€œawesome.â€? He emphasizes that ingredients are purchased locally as much as possible. He anticipates seasonal items on the evolving menu as produce becomes available. The menu at Le Grange includes vegetarian and gluten-free items. Le Grange also has a childrenâ€™s menu with such items as mac â€˜n cheese, chicken tenders, and cheesy flatbreads. Chef Robert emphasized that Le Grange serves â€œfresh, beautifully prepared food that comes from the heartâ€? and, he adds, â€œfrom my grandmaâ€™s soul.â€?
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AUGUST 2018 While sampling a variety of outstanding Le Grange wines, we enjoyed some equally appealing dishes from Le Grangeâ€™s enticing menu. As a starter, we absolutely loved Bierocks, which harken back to Debbieâ€™s Nebraska upbringing where a similar German and Czechoslovakian dish called Runza is so popular. Bierocks are home-made pastries stuffed with beef and cabbage and served with a beer mustard dipping sauce. I could understand why these pastry treats are so coveted in Nebraska that they are even sold at Huskers games. We especially enjoyed the Bierocks with a refreshing Wiens Dawn Rider Red IPAâ€”a perfect pairing We also savored another irre sistible starterâ€”Maple Bacon Wrapped Dates that were stuffed with mascarpone cheese and pistachio and served with a spicy maple sauce. We were then treated to a delectable Charcuterie Board full of lovely cheeses, along with flavorful duck prosciutto, and highlighted by a unique â€œpickle pot.â€? Our main courses included delicious salmon creatively served with a creamy pea and parmesan risotto and garnished with pine nuts. I rarely order salmon in restaurants since it is so hard to prepare correctly, but this salmon was perfectly preparedâ€” crispy, moist, flavorful, and not overdone. But I was in heaven with the Shrimp and Grits. The tangy, sautĂŠed Cajun shrimp were served on a bed of crunchy, cheesy grits with a sun-dried tomato pesto. The dessert menu is also impressive. We tried the unique Beignet Fries which were scrumptious, especially when dipped in either a Chantilly cream or a raspberry sauce. As we savored these dishes, we had sips of some superb Le Grange wines. I loved the light RosĂŠ with lovely berry tastes, which would go well with a green salad and also was an ideal accompaniment to the stuffed dates. The crispy Sauvignon Blanc was subtle and went perfectly with the charcuterie. The reds we tasted were
Photography courtesy of Todd Montgomery also outstanding. We particularly enjoyed the D&D Red Blend (Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Malbec and Petite Syrah), which enhanced the Shrimp and Grits, and the Sangiovese that matched well with the charcuterie and the salmon. Opening a restaurant is no easy task. Le Grange was a dream for Debbie and Doug Wiens that was more than two years in the making. They faced many steps and challenges in order to meet city requirements. Debbie points out that several Murrieta officials were what she calls â€œrockstarsâ€? because they were extremely helpful to them as they moved through the processâ€”including the Mayor of Murrieta, Jonathan Ingram; City Councilman, Randon Lane; and Ivan Holler, the Assistant City Manager. Youâ€™ve heard the phrase that â€œit takes a villageâ€? and that is what happened in Murrieta. Le Grange is certainly a reflection of the combined efforts of many people, but particularly of Debbie and Doug Wiens whose passion and vision led to the opening of this wonderful addition to the Murrieta community. Le Grange is certainly a dream come true. Debbie Wiens says, â€œWe wanted to create a warm, friendly, welcoming restaurant where people of all ages would feel comfortable with the food, the wine, and the setting.â€? It is obvious that the Wiens have done just that. Le Grange is open seven days a week, 11 am. to 9 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It is located at 24683 Washington Avenue in Murrieta, California.
And now for some more Bierocks . . .