Summery shellfish and rosé at the reinvented Grand Cafe
photos by terry brennan
Jason: For years, Minnesota foodies have been anticipating the restaurant that personal-and-professional partners Jamie Malone and Erik Anderson hoped to open, a seafood place called Brut, drawing from their time working together at Sea Change in Minneapolis.
Joy: The two esteemed chefs put those plans on hold when they had the opportunity to buy the charming Grand Cafe in southwest Minneapolis and return to their classic French culinary training.
Jason: Grand Cafe started as a bakery about 70 years ago, and its still-working 1946 Baker Boy oven remains front and center in the dining room. For the past decade, the space was home to a cute neighborhood restaurant offering a relaxed elegance and refined but familiar French-leaning fare, from eggs en cocotte at brunch to seared scallops at dinner. Malone and Anderson freshened up the space with a more stylized vintage aesthetic and an edgier menu.
Inside Grand Cafe
Joy: Jamie is a self-described Pinterest addict and took cues from Parisian restaurants as she collected blush-colored glassware, tiny gold spoons, and antique China—a gorgeous backdrop for the stunning French fare.
The Mangalista Ham is spendy but special
Jason: The foie gras piped into an eggshell and topped with cream is the most beautiful and decadent appetizer in town. It’s silky, nutty, and absolutely worth the $8. And yes, you should spend the $23 for an ounce—that’s about seven thin slices—of the intensely flavorful Mangalista ham. It’s a heritage breed that’s come back into favor because of its unusually high fat content.
Joy: That ham is glorious. It melts on the tongue, lingering with nutty lusciousness. I also loved the red prawn castella, which I’d describe as the lovechild of shrimp toast and pound cake. Castella is actually a Japanese cake, so you have to be a fan of sweet/savory to enjoy the dish as much as I did, but it seems to fit right in with the French haute cuisine.
Fancy apps: (clockwise) Chicken Jambonette, Foie Gras Royale, and delicately Sliced Raw Fish
Jason: The changing raw fish small plate is another winner. We loved the delicate hamachi with a yuzu glaze. For something heartier, my wife thought the tarte flambée—France’s answer to pizza—was as good as she’d had in Alsace. With its thin crust, fatty chunks of Nueske’s bacon, and caramelized onion, it’s an ideal shareable starter.
Joy: The roast chicken entrée featured extraordinarily juicy meat and lacquered crispy skin with a layer of stuffing tucked between.
Jason: I thought that bird was delicious, too, and as we devoured it, I found myself wondering if Grand Cafe was still a neighborhood restaurant or a 4-star destination? I think the answer is: yes. It’s sure to draw sophisticated foodies from all over the metro, yet I comfortably dined with my kids.
Joy: Agreed. It’s both a charming, neighborhood spot and an utterly sophisticated one.
Grand Cafe Quick Tips
Reservations: Recommended for weekends, but they do keep tables open for walk-ins
Décor: Note the exquisite hand-painted wallpaper
Drinks: Only a small list of wine and beer, but it’s finely curated by former La Belle Vie sommelier Bill Summerville
3804 Grand Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-822-8260 grandcafemn.com