Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Grand Time at the Grand

Carol and I celebrated our 54th wedding anniversary (that's months, not years) last night with dinner at the Grand Cafe, which is rapidly becoming one of our favorite restaurants. Chef Justin Frederick's relaxed style of bistro cuisine is consistently very good, the setting romantic, prices extremely reasonable (most entrees are $17 or under) and it's in walking distance of our house.
Full disclosure: my cover got blown long ago at the Grand, so I have always gotten prompt, personable service. I wondered whether that would change after my departure from the Star Tribune was announced, and in fact it did: Co-owner Mary Hunter and waiter extraordinaire Johnny Imgrund both seem more relaxed than when they were talking to the restaurant critic. I've learned a little bit about both of them: Johnny used to write and edit a food and dining guide out in California, and knows a lot more about food and wine than the average server - or the average restaurant critic, for that matter. Mary Hunter met her husband (and co-owner) Dan when they both worked together in the mid-80s at the legendary Faegre's. Faegre's was the training ground for an impressive roster of chefs who have gone on to earn their reputation elsewhere, including Ken Goff of The Dakota; Jim Grell, owner of theModern Cafe; , Brahim Hadj-Moussa of the Barbary Fig and Whitney Gaunt ,who opened Broder's Pasta Bar, and is now chef at FISH in Sausalito. Mary plans hold a Faegre's reunion dinner for sometime this summer, which should be a memorable event. On the first Sunday of every month, a portion of theCafe's dinner profits is shared with the Kingfield Neighborhood Association, and on Tuesday, May 22, the Cafe will host a fundraising dinner for the Lake Country School.
Oh, yes, the food. We started with the canapes, a nightly selection of tidbits that included truffled deviled eggs topped with a sprinkling of Osetra caviar; rye toast points topped with salmon, fresh mint and herbed horseradish cream, and oysters on the half-shell with a mignonette sauce. I immediately broke my resolution to eat less meat, and ordered the lamb burger ($14), a generous chunk of coarsely ground meat served on toasted sourdough, topped with goat cheese, and accompanied by a spicy chimmichurri sauce and a gratin of carmelized cauliflower and whipped potatoes. Carol opted for the nightly special, halibut cheeks ($21), served over fingerling potatoes in a bright and fresh sweet pea puree. I was so entranced by her company and the romance of the evening that I forgot to ask her for a taste, but she tells me it was wonderful. I can also recommend several items on the current menu that I have had on previous visits, including the duck pot pie in puff pastry with black truffle puree ($15), and the Kobe brisket pot roast ($17). We skipped dessert this time around, but the list includes banana creme chiffon, chocolate creme brulee, and a homemade butterscotch pudding.
The Grand Cafe, 3804 Grand Ave. S. , Minneapolis, 612-822-8260.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Start of A New Life

Dear Friends,
Please check back (starting later today, I hope!) for postings on food, restaurants, ethics, current events and more...
And if you want to be kept notified by email about new postings, send me an email to jeremyiggers(at) I won't share your name without your permission.
Jeremy Iggers