GET TO GRAND CAFE IN MPLS - (MSP)
Chow-friends, get there...get there now. St Paul Susie told she'd been there and enjoyed it, and I am telling you - this place is PHENOMENAL.
It has a very warm and inviting feel, the neighborhood restaurant vibe - candle, linens -- I met three girlfriends there at 6:15. We got sat immediately -- the crowds seem to come closer to 7. Various groups - couples, a couple with a 6 year old child, a group of women celebrating a birthday - a whole mix.
Girlfriend had a certificate they'd won from a silent auction. Manager I believe? Came over and gave us our options. Chef could prepare a meal for us with wine pairings - we could order straight off the menu....so we chose our protein and had them do the rest as a surprise.
Course 1 - white asparagus over roasted red pepper and a delectable, light puff pastry leek tartlet.
Course 2 - Beet salad (more salad than beet- but with goat cheese, toasted walnut vinaigrette, and caramelized half pear.
Course 3 -I HATE SQUASH...but I guess now I love it. One piece of hand made pasta rolled in a circle and filled with autumn squash and marscapone, onion confit, oyster mushrooms and a thin layer of sherry sauce. I COULD EAT THIS AS A MEAL.
Course 4 - half poached salmon with frisee and fennel with slivered potatos underneath. this rocked.
Course 5 - Protein - girlfriends ordered the bison steak (I don't eat red meat) - they said it was AMAZING. They said that it was the right amount of chew but was smooth like velvet. I ordered the cornish game hen with fried polenta. Oh man..this is what hen should taste like.
Course 6 - Vanilla bean ice cream and a small pumpkin souffle-ish thing. I don't like pumpkin either. Oh wait, I ate the whole thing. I guess I did.
Wine pairings were spot on - service was knowledge, quick and polite, water glasses continuously getting filled, continuously getting new silverware but you didn't really realize that there was anyone even interrupting your conversation...
People - get there now.
We went tonight and it was pretty great.
We arrived at 6:30 and it was pretty dead. But, by 8:30 when we left it was packed.
The atmosphere is nice. For how busy it got, it wasn't overly loud, which I like.
There are about 5 regular entrees, a fish special, an appetizer special, and an entree special, at least tonight. They also had two special wine, by the glass and bottle, which I thought was great.
We started with the melange. The naan that came with it was soft on the inside, a little crispy on the outside and warm. It was great. I also came with olives, goat cheese, a hummus, artichokes, and salami. It was very nice.
Also, instead of bread, they start everyone off with crackers. I think they are house made, or at least house finished, very large and super tasty.
I had the Kobe Brisket. It was very rich, but very good. Two pieces of falling apart tender brisket (great), chunky mashed potatoes (good), confit of onion (good), with a beer sauce (great.) It was incredibly rich, I couldn't finish, but it was great.
My DH got the game hen. Pan fried game hen with polenta, onions, and some sauce. He said it tasted like chicken, and it did. It was very simple and good. The polenta had a great flavor, some sort of cheese was added that made it really rich and nummy.
The beer list was crap. Only one or two beers worth drinking. That's a point they should really work on. The wine list seemed good, but I am a novice.
We didn't get dessert, the food was too rich and we were full, but they all sounded outstanding. As a neighborhood place, it may be somewhere we just go for dessert sometimes.
We had a good meal. We will return. But I hope that consider a few lighter items into the menu. Everything was very rich and very heavy.
We tried to go there on Saturday night (3Nov) around 7 after reading the wonderful recommendations on here. I had looked online and they had a 7:45 reservation available so we figured worst case we would wait 45 mins. When we got there we were surprised to see that the restaurant was over half empty and when we went in we were greeted by the hostess who asked if we had a reservation. When we responded that we didn't she very loudly said to another woman (perhaps the manager?) that we did not have a reservation in a really condescending tone. So we politely asked what the wait would be without a reservation and the 2nd woman said "well, we're pretty booked tonight. I guess you could try waiting at the bar but I can't guarantee anything because I have multiple 7:00 and 7:30 reservations." Needless to say, we left. I think they need a little more practice on managing their flow of walk ins vs. reservations because I could have stepped outside and called to make a 7:45 reservation. I completely understand that open tables don't mean I can get right in but at least be polite and offer to put my name on a list.
I'll second that this is a great restaurant!! I went with a friend who lives in the neighborhood a couple of weeks ago (sorry I didn't see the thread asking for comments). My friend loves to frequent his neighborhood restaurants, and I willingly agreed to try it out. It was my friends 4th visit in as many or fewer months, and my first visit. We both had the beet salad with walnuts and carmelized pears and goat cheese and really liked it. We both had a Kobe beef brisket (I'm thinking...trying to remember), and it was very, very good - something about a beer sauce too....too long ago and too much food in the meantime... but!! There is no question that the Grand Cafe serves GREAT food and the wait staff is also very pleasant and informative. I'd definitely return to try another item on the menu!
GastronautMan -- I am not sure if it was Mary...but probably? She was a thin, petite woman with blondish hair and I think glasses? Very friendly with a soothing voice? I have some friends that are going there tomorrow night for dinner based on my experience. I hope they love it as much as I did. I honestly cannot wait to get back there-may try for lunch....CH boyfriend loves ruebens and I see there is one on the menu.
Grand does need the support. I have had a couple of really nice meals there in the last few months too and I hope they don't get lost in the shuffle with Blackbird and Heidi's opening less than two miles away, Corner Table a mile away and all of Lake & Lyndale and Uptown all very close too. I go to yoga class across the street on Wednesdays and the rooms look pretty quiet on week nights. Weekends are hopping though.
The Walleye cakes are amazing!