Thursday, May 19, 2011

Grand Cafe

Visited on Sunday, May 8th

Outside Grand Cafe

Erin's Review
Whenever I hear Grand Cafe, I get confused and think that it's in St. Paul. When Ben initially suggested it for Mother's Day brunch, I wasn't too excited, but once I looked at their website and menu I definitely realized the error of my ways on both counts.

We got there a little late for our reservation, since Ben had spent the night at a friend's house the previous night and we were a little slow to get ready that morning. It was definitely packed when we got there, so a reservation was key. I think that Grand Cafe actually looks much more casual than it would appear on their website. It's certainly a cute little place, but for brunch and lunch at least is quite casual. Most people were a little dressed up since it was a special occasion, but nothing crazy. (Ha - clearly not everyone since the dude in the middle of the photo is just in a white undershirt)

Inside Grand Cafe

Annie and another toddler gazing at each other
Annie and this little girl stared at each other for the majority of the meal
They had eggs benedict, so I knew what I was getting right off the bat. There was actually a special menu, but I saw people with items that weren't on the menu, like blueberry pancakes, so it seems they were offering the normal menu as well. There is no kids menu, so when Ben chose the Huevos Rancheros, I figured Annie could just have some of that. I also wanted something sweet, so asked about the pastries of the day. They had a lemon poppyseed scone that was good enough for me - not what I would have chosen if I had all the options in the world, but did the trick. We ordered coffee right away, I loved the cute presentation of the cream and sugar.


My scone wasn't that great - I've made much much better at home. The best scone I've ever had outside of my kitchen is still the cinnamon scone at Cafe Patteen in downtown Minneapolis. I need to make the trek back over there soon. I'm sure, like most things, it would have been delicious right out of the oven, but it was a bit dry and dense for my tastes. I still ate it up, offering a few bites to Annie who enjoyed it as well.

Lemon Poppyseed Scone

I ended up being swayed from the ham to the housemade gravlax (salmon) for my benedict. I was so glad I got that - DELICIOUS. I loved the combination of the salty fish, rich hollandaise, and asparagus. The egg was the most perfectly poached egg I've had since the eggs benedict at Barbette, and might tie for my favorite eggs benedict I've ever had. Seeing as I have it as often as possible, that is very high praise! I didn't even eat many of the potatoes since I wanted to save my appetite for the eggs, but Annie seemed to like them.

Eggs Benedict with salmon

Perfectly poached egg

Grand Cafe does have high chairs, but isn't a place I would label as kid friendly due to their lack of kids menu - they might be willing to make something, but since they don't offer it, I'm guessing they don't really want the little ones around too much. Oh yeah, and the bathroom was so huge I just had to take a photo there too, since I conveniently had my camera around my neck.

Huge bathroom

I'd definitely like to return to see what this place is like for dinner.

Ben's Review
Erin helpfully gave me a list of places that I, should maybe, consider for Mother’s Day brunch. Looking over the list I tried Grand Cafe first, hoping that they would still have reservations available ten days prior. I never know how early these things fill up, but apparently ten days is plenty of time at Grand Cafe because we got it right at the time I wanted, 10am, for two adults and a toddler.

I was at a friend’s going away party the night before, so I had to hustle home around 8am after crashing on Jake and Allison’s front porch. Not much Sunday morning traffic so I got home with time to clean up and get ready to go. We got a bit of a late start on the drive, so I called and said we’d be a few minutes late, and they seemed very appreciative.

We rolled up right at 10:05 and I dropped Erin off at the door so she could claim our table while I parked. The on-street parking was full in this area of south Minneapolis, but I managed to find a spot about a block away. I walked in and found Erin already at our table, a booth on the north side of the restaurant.

I think the booths are slightly raised, or the seats are just close to the table, because I felt very tall sitting there, as if I could see over everyone else. There was a large table in the middle of the room that looked like it would fit in a residential dining room. They had sat two separate parties of two at each end of the table. You would think that it would be awkward to share a large table with another couple, but they managed to pull this off very nicely, and I normally hate restaurants that squeeze the tables in, but this seemed to protect both couples’ privacy better for some reason.

Inside Grand Cafe

The breakfast menu at Grand Cafe is not huge but they seem to have all of the bases covered. After a bit of indecision I was convinced by the pork confit to try the huevoes rancheros, which always brings to mind a big, sloppy mess on the plate. Surprisingly, Grand Cafe makes them not so messy, and absolutely delicious. The tortilla on the bottom of the plate soaked up the mess from the beans, pork, eggs, and the homemade mole to perfection. This was easily the best huevoes rancheros I’ve ever had, and rivals the breakfast burrito at Longfellow Grill for my favorite breakfast.


I wasn’t getting much of a warm fuzzy from the service; there wasn’t anything bad about it, just didn’t feel too welcomed. I was also surprised at how it wasn’t crazy busy for Mother’s Day as I had assumed it would be, it was a nice surprise though.

We got out of there and had time for a windy walk around Lake Harriet, reminiscing about our walk last year when Annie was a little smaller (same hooded sweatshirt for me though!)

Service: Eh, we were taken care of, but I didn’t feel terribly welcome..
Food: Awesome huevoes rancheros
Drinks: The coffee was good and they were nearly militant about making sure your cup was full.
Ambiance: It was a good level of noise from the friendly breakfast crowd.
Convenience: I find this area of Minneapolis to be annoying to get to, as it’s not convenient from any freeway. Once you’re there it’s not bad.

3804 Grand Ave S