Category Archives: mexican food

Grand Café – Minneapolis, MN – Brunch

We were in the neighborhood and knew that the Grand Café served brunch on the weekends so we decided to give it a try.

http://www.grandcafempls.com

My last trip to the Grand Café was not bad but it was not great either. Of the 4 entrees we tried one was amazing and the others were average. My assessment was that the service was so slow that the food sat out too long. For a pan seared duck breast this is not good thing.

I am not one that enjoys rushing a meal, in fact I do really enjoy a break between courses to take a few breaths, sip some wine and enjoy the conversation. But service at this restaurant has been consistently slow both times I have been there. The wait staff was very nice and knowledgeable, just not all that efficient when it comes to empty wine glasses and getting the plates from the kitchen to the diners.

The food for brunch this time was stellar. The Huevoes Rancheros were magnificent. Their version is more French inspired and features Quesadillas filled with Berkshire Pork Confit, Oaxaca Cheese, Two Eggs Your Way (I had mine over easy), Mole, Black Beans, Cilantro, Sour Cream. Out of the kitchen the dish is actually fairly mild, the mole is nicely balanced and not too spicy. Mexican and southwestern food lovers might find this dish on the bland side. They bring you some condiments if you feel the need to add more heat.
Grand Café – Minneapolis, MN
I was really impressed with the preparation and attention to detail. The dish was nicely layered and all the ingredients were fresh (except the pork) and high quality. I would highly recommend this if you go there for brunch.

We also tried the steel cut oats. This is a dish that I would normally not order in a restaurant because after all it is oatmeal. This was not your run of the mill oatmeal. It came with a side of apples and Devonshire cream. Mixing these into the hot oatmeal was divine.

I am excited to go back there again soon for dinner and brunch for that matter. I really like their dedication to high quality local ingredients. I am hoping the service will become more efficient as time goes on.

Cafe Ena – Minneapolis, MN

I have been a big fan of El Meson for a while and I was excited to try their new sister restaurant Café Ena. The restaurant opened in May and serves “Latin fusion” cuisine. There are a lot of similarities to El Meson though I think Ena focuses more on Mexican inspired cuisine where El Meson has more of a Caribbean theme to the cuisine

www.cafeena.com/

We arrived at the restaurant on time for our reservation. I heard the hostess tell the people in front of us (who did not have a reservation) that there was a 45 minute wait for a table. The place was packed with a lot of people waiting in the lobby for a table. If you go I would recommend trying to get in on Open Table first. With a reservation we were seated immediately.

The restaurant is very nice inside. It feels a bit more upscale then El Meson does. The  tables are fairly close together but not close enough to be irritating. My first impression of the menu was there were a lot of choices. The dishes seemed very complex. It was too dark to get readable photographs of anything so I skipped it.

We started with 2 appetizers. Cafe Ena was featuring a carrot ginger soup … “sopa del Dia”. We also tried the Tamal. The soup was quite good, very flavorful and of perfect consistency. The cup sized portion was just enough. The Tamal, described on the menu as a traditional Oaxacan tamal filled with chicken in a dark mole sauce wrapped in a banana leaf garnished with Cojita cheese was OK. Though I thought the mole seemed a bit lifeless. The filling was in the same category. It was prepared well, it just seemed to lack energy and flavor.

For entrees we tried the Atun which was a corriander-crusted ahi tuna served over serano mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, in an orange bell pepper cream sauce, garnished with a green apple fennel slaw.

I had a lot of problems with this dish.

The tuna was seared rare. I love seared tuna. My problem with the dish was that the pieces were too thick. The outside was seared but the inside was ice cold. Way too cold. Thinner pieces seared rare would have been a much better experience. The cream sauce was boring and I could only taste apple in the slaw…the fennel seemed non-existent. The serano in the potatoes was tame and did not seem to add much value. Overall a pretty blah experience.

We also tried the Cararon which was Procsciutto-wrapped jumbo shrimp served with red pepper mashed potatoes, sautéed artichokes, grilled asparagus, and peppers in a lemon caper butter sauce. I thought this one was better then the tuna but overall fairly average. In my opinion there was too much going on and the plate lacked focus. The shrimp and procsiutto were cooked well.

We skipped dessert and went right for the check.

Service was excellent at Café Ena. The server knew the menu and wine list well and was able to make good recommendations and pairings. Even though the restaurant was busy, we never waited a long time for anything. The wine selection is also really nice. I found the selections to be diverse, reasonably priced and worked well with the menu.

I think Café Ena is a good neighborhood restaurant. I had much higher expectations based on the number of times I have eaten at El Meson. Looking at how crowded it was, I would assume that the majority of the diners lived nearby and it is a convenient location. I don’t think I would go out of my way to dine there. Though I would be really happy to have them near my house….since the closest restaurant to me happens to be a Perkins.