Movin’ On Up

New digs, complicated margaritas, and nine-spice lamb chops don’t diminish the Edina Grill’s down-to-earth demeanor

AT THE EDINA GRILL, which recently moved around the corner from 50th Street to France Avenue, the silverware is still stored at the table in stainless steel malt cups; big, white, fluffy towels still stand in for napkins; and the young, friendly wait staff still dresses in jeans and black “urban diner” T-shirts. But then: the newness! The neo-mod light fixtures and wall hangings in the main dining room, the flat-screen TVs over the bar, and the superabundance of texture and sparkle, the scene—the differences are inescapable. Our favorite diner has gone disco.

Of course, we would prefer to see a supercharged Edina Grill in this location rather than a national chain, and we certainly don’t miss the Arby’s. (No one ever does, do they?) Coupled with Salut Bar Americain next door, the grill is part of a nascent bar scene at Edina’s formerly sleepy business crossroads. The old location served only beer and wine, but now, on weekends, people line up three deep at the bar for complicated martinis and margaritas made with fresh lime juice. The Edina Grill’s menu has also upgraded, with more choices that edge toward fine dining. Is all this change, as they say, good?

Photo by Eric Moore

The food seems to be working itself out. The favorites are still there—the fish ’n’ chips, the pierogies, the unbeatable turkey burger—and some of the new additions, such as the suspicious sounding but absolutely delicious seafood-mac-and-cheese, are winners. The Edina Grill trips up, however, when it tries to get fancy. The nine-spice lamb chops were wonderfully complex and satisfying, but the minted cannelini-bean-and-tomato ragout was bland and underdone. The duck and hash also missed the mark, with its overpowering pomegranate-balsamic glaze. It’s unclear if the staff is still getting used to the new kitchen or if they might be overreaching. When Edina Grill focuses on comfort food, the clever touches elevate otherwise simple fare. Is the diner mentality holding back the Grill’s more ambitious offerings?

But maybe we’re just stuck in the past. There were moments when we missed the more casual nature of the old place: the plastic-topped tables, the booths, and the sense that we could spill something without consequence. We missed the garage door that rolls up in the summertime, and even those weird parachute fixtures, though they never made any sense to us. During a Sunday breakfast with a toddler in tow, we found the Edina Grill continues to be one of the more kid-friendly restaurants in town. Yet, when we were wiping our faces with big hand towels, we were strangely a little worried about our manners. Are we pining for the old? Or is the new place still finding its way? Perhaps a little of both. Regardless, whenever we’re on the lookout for an upscale-but-still-down-to-earth, kid-friendly, disco hash house, we will accept no substitutes.

Edina Grill
5028 France Ave. S.
Edina, 952-927-7933
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.
Appetizers $5—$10, entrées $8—$18