Grand Cafe II (Minneapolis)

I ate dinner at Grand Cafe in South Minneapolis almost 3 years ago and reviewed it then. I liked that meal fine—especially at the price—even though I noted that the restaurant had no particular identity. Not too long after that the identity of the restaurant changed entirely. The owners sold it and under new chefs Jamie Malone and Erik Anderson the restaurant moved in a haute and French direction. Not too long after that Anderson moved to the Bay Area to head the kitchen at Coi, leaving Malone solely in charge. The local reviews were strong when they were both involved and continued to be so after his departure. However, local reviews in the Twin Cities are always strong for high-end openings, especially from local darlings like Malone and Anderson—the local media had seemingly been waiting breathlessly for them to open a restaurant for a few years before their Grand Cafe debuts. Between our skepticism of local hype, the high prices and the fact that we’d not been particularly impressed by our meals at Sea Change when Malone was there, we weren’t in a huge hurry to go take the measure of the changes at the current incarnation of Grand Cafe. We did finally get there this past weekend, however, and I am now kicking myself for having waited that long. Yes, it was a very good dinner, probably the best high-end meal we’ve had in the Cities recently. Continue reading

Meritage (St. Paul)

Meritage, Saddle of Lamb
I always tend to think of Meritage as a Twin Cities institution from way back but in fact it only opened around the same time we got here: in 2007. The head chef, Russell Klein, has been around on the scene longer. Though he is not originally from Minnesota (from New York, I believe), he was the executive chef at W.A. Frost, a St. Paul institution that has incubated a lot of Twin Cities kitchen talent. His wife Desta Maree Klein is the other force behind the restaurant—she runs the operations. They’ve won a number of local awards and Chef Klein has been long-listed a couple of times for the Midwest James Beard. It’s a place we’ve always meant to go to but somehow never have. Well, the omission has been fixed now.  Continue reading