On Saturday, the four of us volunteered to hang out at the Uber tent with their crew, spreading the word and giving out neon tanks and sunglasses to new Uber users. It was a great time!
Afterwards, Sarah had to run off to for an afternoon work shift. The busy flurry of the morning had begun to take a toll on us, so Sam, Liz, and I figured we’d better re-fuel with some lunch. We got on our phones to take inventory of what was nearby and Sam pretty quickly exclaimed “Ohhh, French Meadow!” I was hungry enough at that point to say yes to McDonalds, so we had ourselves a game plan.
We parked a few blocks away, and walked up to the welcoming front patio exterior of French Meadow Bakery & Cafe.
Stepping inside to the cool conditioned air, my senses were overwhelmed by a cavernous space bustling with activity and about six chalkboard menus filled with descriptions of tasty delights. We got into line to order at the counter, although we were informed a couple of times that there was a new wine bar area off to the left, which offered table service. We had our hearts set on enjoying the patio scene outside, so we decided to stay the course and order from the counter.
The big decision was whether to go brunchy with an omelette or eggs benedict, or to lean toward lunch and order one of their tempting sandwiches. Luckily, we had about six or seven people in line in front of us, so there was some time for perusal, but it wasn’t quite enough. I got to the front of the line still weighing a few options and just blurted out the first item on the sandwich menu: “Curried Chicken Croissant, please!” That croissant roll just sounded too good to pass up. I selected coleslaw for my side — I’ve been on a slaw kick lately — and on a wild impulse, snatched a ginger soda from the cooler. My total came to $12.66, and I tipped a buck-fifty. I’m never sure how much to tip for counter service. Does anyone have any insight on that? I’d love to hear what the standard protocol is, as I’d hate to be accidentally “stiffing” someone!
We filled some water glasses and made our way out to the side patio where an abundance of open tables awaited us. Thank goodness! Sam, who has been here a few times, told us that this extra patio area was a recent expansion. I loved the row of wooden booths lined with wild flowers, so we made ourselves comfortable in the closest one.
We set our cute Marilyn Monroe “table number” at the end of the table so that they’d be able to find us with our food. Such a cute touch! Adding to the charm were sweet little songbirds, hopping and chirping around like we were in some kind of Disney movie.
Liz splurged and ordered a mimosa, $7.50, which came out about five to ten minutes after we sat down. A few minutes later, Sam’s sandwich showed up, dressed beautifully with greens.
We waited about ten more minutes before my own chicken croissant, with coleslaw, arrived. This was especially strange because I had ordered first out of the three of us. The server seemed relieved to see us, so it seemed he had possibly been walking around with my poor sandwich for some time. I guess that’s the danger of counter service in such a large space; I do wish that they would have brought our food out at the same time, since we made a point that we’d just need the one table number since we were together. No time to gripe though, by this point I was s.t.a.r.v.i.n.g!
I was really happy with my Curried Chicken Croissant ($8.50). The curry-seasoned chicken was just right, and the sliced tomato and spinach greens were fresh-tasting. I loved the occasional burst of sweetness from the small golden grapes mixed in. The croissant was exactly what you expect from a place with “bakery” in the title. Buttery, flakey, and grilled on the inside to add a great subtle crunch, it actually held up well to my two-handed face-shoving method of eating. I mentioned that I was realllly hungry, right?
The “firecracker” coleslaw that I ordered for my side was disappointing. The purple cabbage, while beautiful in color with the shredded orange carrots, was cut unevenly — rustically? — with one giant chunk hanging off the side. Rather than any mayo or sauce, it was doused in way too much vinegar and soy sauce, which was pooled unappetizingly in the bottom of the dish. As hungry as I was, I ate less than half of the salty coleslaw before deciding I’d had enough. Sam raved about her greens, so next time I think I’ll order those, or the chips and salsa, for my side.
There were no prices in the soda cooler, but whatever I paid for my fresh ginger soda was 100% worth it. I’m not typically a “soda person,” but I am a ginger fanatic. This refreshing drink with unfiltered bits of ginger floating inside hit the spot perfectly and wasn’t too sweet at all.
We relaxed at the table for a few minutes after we had finished eating, sipping the last of our beverages and making plans for the rest of the day. It was nice to feel completely unhurried, as there were still plenty of available tables nearby, and I do always love it when I’ve “prepaid” for a meal, so there’s no money business to be done at the close of the meal.
Overall, French Meadow Bakery & Cafe was a great place for a relaxed lunch. The menu is extensive, so I have a feeling that one could go back once a week and never get bored with their options. I can see myself bringing out-of-town guests here for lunch, or coming back and bringing the hubs for a date night on the charming patio. The weekday happy hour is also calling my name, with $3 house wines and draft beers and $5 selected appetizers.
While there is a lot going on here — wine bar, bakery, cafe, two patios — it feels cohesive. The overall vibe is relaxed elegance, and I think they pull it off nicely.
A little strange. They seemed thrown off by our request to put our three separate orders on the same table, which to me seems like it should be pretty common at a cafe; and then my food took twice as long as Sam’s to arrive with an air of it being our own fault.
While Sam’s sandwich looked great surrounded by a bed of salad, my own sandwich looked lost on the huge white plate with a tiny dish of coleslaw next to it.
Everything is organic and it seems that great attention is paid to creating delicious dishes. The curried chicken croissant was awesome, but the coleslaw fell short.
Value for Dollars
I spent a bit more than I normally would at lunchtime (about $15). For this reason alone, I don’t see French Meadow being on my usual rotation of go-to’s, but rather reserved for more special lunches.
But don’t take my word for it!
French Meadow Bakery & Cafe
2610 Lyndale Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55408
French Meadow on Twitter
French Meadow on Facebook
French Meadow on Yelp
Eat well, Mon Chéris!