Friday, July 29, 2011

Bowie Restaurant Project: (8) Grace's Fortune

Grace's Fortune is now closed.

For an explanation of the Bowie Restaurant Project, look here.

For a collection of all the Bowie Restaurant Project entries, look here.

Grace's Fortune, 15500 Annapolis Rd
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 4/18/2011
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 1
Pre-Foursquare Visits: A Number
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

In some ways, Grace's Fortune was the inspiration for the Bowie Restaurant Project. Years ago, we had a series of potential consultants coming into the office for interviews; we would always take them out to lunch as part of the process. The restaurant had to satisfy a few criteria: good food, nice decor, not a chain, (good) wait service. Since these were professors, I was looking for the sort of place you might take a visiting speaker after a colloquium. The only place in Bowie that I could think of was Grace's Fortune. One time, we had two visitors on consecutive days, and I got stressed because I didn't want to go there twice in a row, have someone mention it, and expose the fact that we really don't have other decent restaurants in Bowie. (I sometimes worry about things I don't need to worry about.) We ended up lucking out, having some extra time in the schedule for the second visitor, and went to Annapolis for Indian food.

I actually now have some other ideas for where to take an interviewee (to be revealed in upcoming reviews), but that incident was one of the things I think about when I think, "Bowie doesn't have a decent selection of restaurants." (Another, back in the 1990s, was when an unremarkable restaurant opened on Crain Highway -- I think it was Tia's, and I found it absolutely swamped on a Friday night. Clearly, people were desperate for more dining options. I think the quantity of sit-down restaurants has improved in the past 15 years; now I'm more worried about the quality.)

So what can you expect at Grace's Fortune? First of all, good Chinese food in a variety of price ranges -- the lunch specials, while not super-cheap, are a good deal. Second, you'll get good service. I think it would be awful to deal with poor service during a business lunch, and I've never had to at Grace's. The decor is nice, and although Grace has opened two other restaurants in Maryland, it definitely has a locally-owned feel.

What keeps it from being a five-star restaurant? First, it's a Chinese restaurant, and Bowie has a ton of them. I haven't visited them all yet, so I can't say for sure it's the best, but even if it is, it's still a less crucial part of Bowie's food landscape than if it were, say, a Burmese restaurant. Second, it's good Chinese food, but not great Chinese food. I can imagine driving from Bowie to Wheaton or Chinatown for better Chinese food, but not vice versa. I'd dock it half a star for each of these, but its status as a go-to "interview lunch" destination keeps me from dropping it below 4 1/2 stars.
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