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Not your average crepe and coffee

Starting this morning at 8 a.m., a new Louisville venture called Gralehaus will begin serving a breakfast and crepe menu that no Waffle House has ever heard of: innovative sausages, inventive grits, insane coffee and, yes, even beer cocktails.

Duck confit crepes for breakfast. Open-faced short rib sandwich for lunch. Sorghum and apple soft serve for dessert. And how about a Professor Fritz Breim 1809 Berliner Weisse to wet your whistle as you whet your appetite?

Gralehaus. If the name sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because it’s from the same people who run Holy Grale. In fact, Gralehaus is on Baxter Avenue immediately behind the Holy Grale on Bardstown Road.

But Gralehaus’s director, Lori Beck, said this is a case of same owners, similar names but a completely different concept.

“It’s not just a continuation of Holy Grale,” she said, “we’ve spent two and a half intense years developing this concept and exploring a whole bunch of new ways of serving coffee, beverages, food and beer.”

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The Holy Grale (left) and Gralehaus (right) are connected via courtyard.

Chef Andy Myers describes the Gralehaus menu as “things we enjoyed from our childhood through a Southern lens.”

For example, biscuits and gravy features duck gravy with duck-skin crackles and maple vinegar; sausage and grits is a lamb Merguez crepinette with North African-spiced grits; a handmade garganelle pasta with tiny beef and pork meatballs is the Gralehaus take on Spaghetti-Os.

At 11 a.m., the kitchen adds lunch fare to the menu. Some of the sandwiches Myers mentioned to me are a house-made porchetta (boneless pork roast) on a Blue Dog baguette, and pork sausage on a pretzel roll.

All the garnishes — jam, mayonnaise, mustard and pickles — are homemade.

Myers said the restaurant will also have homemade sodas and fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit juice, along with some great craft beer.

“We’ll have beer cocktails, like Beer Mimosas and Shandys, using the fresh-squeezed juice,” he said.

This is serious stuff. Beck said the staff went to Intelligentsia, the renowned coffee roasting company in Chicago, to learn the art of roasting coffee and making espresso. They’ll serve both the classic coffee drinks (espresso, macchiata, latte) and more innovative, contemporary versions. And they’ll be the first people to carry Intelligentsia brand coffee, both brewed and whole beans to take home.

They’ll also be retailing sausages, pies and homemade sodas over the counter, along with prepared items to go, like duck confit out of the deli case. The “haus soda” has elements of fennel, grapefruit and ginger — not your basic Mountain Dew.

New York magazine wrote as early as last November that Gralehaus is one of the best bed-and-breakfasts in Louisville. Way premature. While that is the longer-term plan, it won’t be B&B-ready until some time this spring.

When it is, Beck said the three rooms in the house, which she designed, with furniture from Scout, will raise the B&B bar. “It will be the best hospitality and culinary experience we can think of,” she said, with guests dining off the Gralehaus menu or having breakfast and coffee brought to their rooms.

Why not just add breakfast and lunch to the Holy Grale menu?

An assortment of Gralehaus goodies
An assortment of Gralehaus goodies

Because, Beck emphasized, it’s a completely new and unrelated concept. Yes, they’re complementary businesses in that they both are changing ways of thinking – about beer and food at night, about coffee and crepes earlier in the day. They both honor local foods, artisanal products and an emphasis on process. But this is not just a daytime version of Holy Grale.

“We like to think of this as a neighborhood deli in Italy,” Beck said. “You can stand at the bar and get anything you want – glass of wine, shot of espresso, and a whole assortment of regional charcuterie and cheese to take with you.”

I’ve lived in Chicago, New York and New Jersey, and that’s my sense of an Italian street-corner deli: warm, friendly, great smells, great coffee, great food.

“It’s the same integrity for great food and great experience as Holy Grale,” said Myers. “A tremendous amount of effort and product goes into developing the kind of breakfast-and-lunch operation we’re trying to do. We’re making almost everything we serve in-house. We have a separate kitchen, separate menu, separate staff.”

The Baxter Street building that is home to the restaurant (and the B&B to come) is a roughly 100-year-old private residence. It was bought by Louisville real estate impresario Andy Blieden (who also owns the Holy Grale building, a former church). On the ground floor is this inviting café-restaurant, “about 600 square feet, counter seating and a few tables.”

And in such a tiny space, they’re reinventing breakfast.

Steve Kaufman
Steve Kaufman has been writing professionally since the Johnson administration (Lyndon, not Andrew) on all manner of subjects, from sports to city hall to sales and marketing to running a medical practice to designing stores. His journey has taken him from Chicago to Buffalo to New York to Atlanta to Cincinnati, before landing, finally, in Louisville.