Country Bread, Butter
Crispy Sweetbreads Blanquette, Nebrodini Mushroom
Sweet Corn Madelines, Whipped Brown Butter
Chicken Liver Donut, Vinegar Glitter Glaze
Pork Pate en Croute, Savora Mustard, Celery, Onions
Pike Quenelle, Langoustine, Sauce Nantua
Crab Filled Jidori Egg Omelet, Shokupan Toast
Carrots, Carrot Butter
Coffee, Anisette Meringue
Triple Creme Savory Cheesecake, Strawberry Consomme, Thyme
Carrot Cake, Cream Cheese Frosting, Orange Zest
Bourbon Baba, Tonka Bean, Chantilly
Having challenged anyone with knowledge of the topic to name a better Bistro or Brasserie in North America than Las Vegas’ Bardot it was finally an acquaintance from Minnesota who volunteered Grand Cafe, Chef Jamie Malone’s reinvented Minneapolis concept that was already on the radar thanks to some national attention plus her appearance earlier this year at Josh Smith’s World-class Brasserie for Mother’s Day Brunch.
Now operated under the toque of Malone and Erik Anderson for going on two years, Jamie’s time in the kitchen beginning December 2016 after earning accolades at several local Restaurants, it was officially in March the year after that the 70 year old space was purchased and retouched, details such as the zinc top Bar left vintage but areas such as the dining room benefitted by new wallpaper and paint.
Focused on a unique style of French Cuisine with classic technique enhanced by whimsy, a Chicken Liver Paris Brest causing quite a stir when named Food & Wine’s 2018 Dish of the Year, it was as a party of three that a quiet table away from the front window was occupied at 7:00pm, the space perhaps ninety percent full though more diners would soon make sure no tables were empty.
Not at all a place to rest on its laurels, menus evolving by season and Chefs’ inspiration such that even Grand Café’s most famous dish has now changed, it was beginning with housemade Bread and good Butter that a three course feast unfolded, the Brest now downsized to a Pate a Choux Donut whose $3-per-bite cost is completely justified while moist Cornbread Madelines also retool something familiar in a manner that still feels correct in the mouth despite flavors that are bold and unexpected.
Progressing more traditionally henceforth, a Blanquette of pan-seared Sweetbreads and Mushrooms showing off Malone’s Sauce skills before roughly ground Pig parts were tasted inside golden Pastry, it was after perhaps twenty minutes that course two was underway, a $28 “Appetizer for the Table” rethinking Pike Quenelles with Langoustine instead of Crawfish and thus enhancing the sauce with a bit more salt while the Soufflé itself was virtually weightless yet still very rich.
At this point seeing others getting full, one less familiar with fine dining “shocked” at how what seemed to be a modest amount of Food could have such an effect, it was almost as if overhearing the comment that Malone’s $35 Omelet arrived alongside Carrots cooked in Butter, the faultless yellow fold centered by what could have easily been 1/4 pound of sweet Crustacean while accompanying Toast assured not one drop of velvety Sauce would go uneaten.
Not about to depart such a meal without Dessert, even the Coffee paying close attention to detail, it was beginning with a polarizing “Cheesecake” that ate more like cold Butter that far better tastes and textures followed, the Sponge Cake soaked liberally with Bourbon finding balance in Vanilla Cream while Grand Café’s Carrot Cake invests heavily in Cardamom that along with minimally sweetened Cream Cheese Frosting makes it more savory than most.