I was looking forward to my visit to the Grand Café, knowing that the concept was similar to its former incarnation as Bakery on Grand. I was a big fan of their rustic, fresh, understated approach to both their menu and wine list. Grand Café is similar but different.
We made a reservation at 7:15. When we arrived the place was busy. The restaurant itself is a nice, warm space. They have made some nice improvements, but kept the overall layout and approach.
My first impression was that they were unorganized. It took us a while to find someone willing to help us get to our table. Not a single employee would acknowledge that we were obviously waiting to be seated. Finally the host showed up and brought us to our table after about 5 or so minutes.
Like I said earlier. I thought the environment was really nice. They have thought about the details to make it a nice dining experience. The flatware, and plates are well thought and fit with their theme in an appropriate, not trying too hard way.
It was way too dark for me to take any iPhone pictures. I have a new policy. 1. If I can’t get a good shot I won’t take one. 2. I will not ever use a flash in a fine dining restaurant. So no picutures this time it was too dark.
We started with several first courses. The warm beet salad was excellent. It is a nice combination of pears, goat cheese, honey and walnuts. We also tried the Creamy Leek Tart. It was really good. I especially enjoyed the roasted tomato and poached egg that came along with it. This would be a wonderful brunch or breakfast dish. The leeks were not overpowering. I think diners who don’t care for onions would even enjoy this. Another star at the table was the trio of Canapés. They change regularly and offer a range of flavors.
For entrees I went with the duck special. It was a pan-seared duck breast served with fingerling potatoes and braised greens. The duck was cold and not all that exciting. The potatoes were good. I think the dish would have been better if it would have been served to me sooner. Overall, it was not nearly as good as the Kobe Brisket. This was great comfort food. Don’t miss this one if you go. It was tender and flavorful served with beautiful porcini mushrooms and mashed potatoes.
The pork loin chop was also good. Not stellar but good. I think this dish also suffered from sitting too long before it was served. I enjoyed the apple chutney with cranberry and rappini it came with. The last entrée we tried was a special containing trout. It closely resembled salmon so I stayed away (allergic to salmon). It was reported that it was OK, but would not order it again.
Desserts were excellent. We tried the pumpkin cheesecake and the Bete Noire. I actually preferred the cheesecake. It was served as a round with the crust more like a cookie on top. The Bete Noir was a dense chocolate cake served with blackberries and citrus crème anglaise. It was just enough for a taste without being overwhelming.
The wine list at Grand Café is appropriate. There are some nice selections and range in terms of variety and price. It is clear that they have taken time to carefully select wines that work well with the menu.
Service was my biggest complaint along with the entrees. It was very slow. Our server was very nice, but we waited a really long time between courses and my entrée was served cold. I also had to point out to the server that we were not charged for the $50 bottle of Burgundy I ordered. Whoops.
I would recommend ordering off the menu and staying away from the specials. Both dishes that came from the regular menu were good. I would not order the fish or the duck again.