Has the following brunch scenario ever happened to you?:
It’s a glorious Saturday morning. You’re looking to get together with a few friends and get this weekend started in the right direction: Brunch! Great idea. You’ve heard about some place that’s supposed to serve the best ______ (name it: drunken french toast, eggs benedict, meat waffle) in the city, so you excitedly head there. When you arrive, bad news: at least an hour wait. Fine, we came all this way, we’ll wait. A long, hungry, non-caffeinated wait later, and you finally get a cramped table in the corner and a server who seems to think that you should feel honored to occupy that space with a mostly empty mug of cold coffee in front of you. The food is good, but expensive and likely overrated, and the service is slow and unfriendly. Suddenly, you’re out $20 for essentially just eggs and coffee, and left with a bad taste in your mouth from the whole experience.
For every great dining experience, there are always going to be a few duds. Even the best restaurants sometimes experience off-days, especially during a busy brunch hour at a popular spot.
When a few of my favorite old college girlfriends asked me to join them for brunch at Grand Cafe last weekend, I had some qualms that this might be one of those kinds of brunches. Searching the menu on their website revealed that Grand is in the higher price range for brunch ($9-14), and the reviews online, while overwhelmingly positive, indicated that it’s a popular brunch destination. Of course, I wasn’t going to NOT go out with the ladies, but my expectations were tempered. Long wait, pretentious service, here we come.
I could not have been more wrong in my assessment of Grand Cafe. We parked on the street directly in front of Grand at 10am on a Saturday morning and were seated immediately. Our server was more than accommodating, offering detailed and mouth-watering descriptions of four or five items on the menu. Our coffees and tea were brought with an almost over-the-top selection of add-ins — honey, lemon wedges, sugars, creamer — all of which was presented beautifully.
If our beverages were nicely presented though, they had nothing on the food which arrived maybe twenty quick minutes after ordering. We were dazzled as plate after gorgeous plate was set before us.
For myself, I chose the house biscuits and red-eye gravy, $11. I had been wavering in a three-way tie between that, the pork confit huevos rancheros ($13), and the eggs benedict ($14), but was swayed by our server’s description of the unique spicy gravy with paprika. Yes, please! It was everything I expect biscuits and gravy to be: warm, satisfying, and rich. The kick of heat from the paprika took this dish from great to memorable. The fruit cup on the side was an appreciated fresh touch with my heavy meal.
Chelsie was a big fan of the house-made jam that came for her toast with her “Eggs Your Way” meal, $9. Joanna’s eggs benedict, $14, was envy-inducing, with gorgeous bursts of color from the salty ham, buttery soft poached yolks, and the perfectly tender and bright sauteed asparagus. And Emily’s eggs en cocotte (“eggs in a cup,” $11) was a show-stopper, with savory poached eggs smothered in cream and gruyere, dotted with tasty bits of ham, all nestled underneath flaky chunks of puff pastry. Rave reviews were exchanged around the table.
Despite having a full dining room of patrons to appease, our server stopped by often throughout the meal to check on us and to offer fresh coffee or hot water for tea. When we got the tab and needed to split it in a combination of cards and cash, our server could not have been more gracious and accommodating. Once all of our plates were cleared away and the cafe was beginning to slow from the Saturday morning rush into an easy early lunch crowd, we lingered awhile as old friends tend to do, slowly finishing our coffees and sharing our plans for the rest of our weekends.
Grand Cafe is a grand way indeed to begin a day. I highly recommend it for a brunch that is humbly deserving of every word of hype it receives.
Comfortable, sunny, and cheerful. Refreshingly simple decor that doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard.
The service can really make all of the difference; in this case, our server made certain we were always comfortable and well taken care of.
I wanted to Instagram every bite! The presentation was so impressive.
I don’t think there was a single “off” dish. We all thoroughly enjoyed our meals.
Value for Dollars
It’s definitely not the kind of breakfast I would be able to afford every weekend; that said, for its price bracket, Grand Cafe is my favorite I’ve tried so far.
But don’t take my word for it:
3804 Grand Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55409
Grand Cafe on Facebook
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Grand Cafe on Yelp