Some people are trained to cook and some people are born to cook. Bill Prest, owner/chef of Julian Gray's was definitely born to cook. The food he grew up on is the food he serves. "My slogan is simply delicious", Bill says, "I don't overcomplicate things".
Dining at Julian Gray's will take you back to your childhood. The dining room walls are covered with a lifetime of memorabilia. Bill's a collector and loves sharing his passions. Julian Gray's gives him that outlet to display his treasured collectibles, but his true treasure is in the food he prepares. Just like the old photos and worn toys, his dishes also take you back to a time when memories of food were simple, good, and made with love. The love seems to stem from Bill's parents, Kathy and Bill who still roll the stuffed cabbage every day. The elder Prest proudly boasted, "without me none of this would happen." You can tell his pride is not in himself but clearly in his son.
The food at Julian Gray's is the food I grew up on. It's kind of the All American Diner with a melting pot menu. The menu has what you might expect on a family restaurant menu but it's also dotted with a few surprises and unique dishes here and there. It's a bit of old world meets new world meets Bill's world.
Take the appetizers. You'll find Pickled Beets and Eggs, Buffalo Chicken Dip and BBQ Fries. What a great way to start and let me add the Bill's homemade BBQ sauce is killer. It's not only on those amazing fries, but burgers and chicken as well. All the meat Bill uses is purchased fresh from local butcher shop, Catullo Prime Meats. The burgers are hand packed, seasoned and grilled to perfection. I loved the BBQ Burger. A big burger resting on a toasted bun, topped with grilled onions, bacon, cheddar cheese and that yummy, sweet BBQ sauce. Served with a mound of fresh cut fries, I'll be back for this one.
I was excited when served the Polka Platter. This is the food I grew up on and after one bite I knew that this was the food Bill grew up on as well. The Polka Platter has everything. Two big Stuffed Cabbage, three Homemade Pierogies and a side of cabbage and noodles. The Stuffed Cabbage filled with seasoned ground meat and rice simmered in a tomato sauce. Not sure why but I've always added vinegar to my stuffed cabbage at home right before eating it. Julian Gray's Stuffed Cabbage has that vinegar cooked right in by adding sauerkraut, juice and all, into the dish while cooking. It has all the flavors I love, just the way I like it. The Homemade Pierogies are filled with a potato cheese filling then tossed in butter and grilled onions. Try them and you'll never eat frozen pirogies again. If you don't want the whole platter but have to have the pirogues, you can order a half dozen of these guys with a side of your choice. I suggest the cabbage and noodles. Call it haluski if you must, Bill knows what you want. It's a simple dish of noodles and sweet, fried cabbage but it's simply delicious.
As if all this wouldn't be enough. I was presented with an All American Favorite. Homemade, warm Apple Crisp. A big bowl of sliced apples, not chopped little pieces floating in applesauce, but lots of slices of fresh apples wrapped in a warm cinnamon, brown sugar sauce then topped with sweet crisp. Wait, it gets better. Vanilla ice cream covers the entire bowl then it's drizzled with caramel syrup. Right out of the oven, the ice cream was melting into the warm apples and it was so good. So much flavor and the perfect ending to a delicious meal. I didn't leave a single bite and when I go back for that burger, I will save room for dessert. I suggest you do the same.
As we sat around chatting about the good old days while I was finishing that last bite of apple crisp and still picking away at the fries, Bill talked about all the regulars that come to Julian Gray's and his father added "we don't have customers, we have friends." If you're looking for good food and a place to relax away from all the hustle and bustle, go see my friends at Julian Gray's. Bill was right, "it's simply delicious".