Run, don't walk, to this great Minneapolis neighborhood spot at 38th and Grand. And it's not just for the baked goods, or for breakfast.
My wife and I ate dinner there on the 4th. Doug and Jessica Anderson (he runs the business, she cooks) were debating whether to keep the place open for the holiday or not. I'm glad they did. I had been wanting to try this restaurant since they open a few months back. But living in St. Paul didn't always bring this to "top of mind."
The menu changes daily, and is quite small. Only three entrees on our visit (no fish or veggie options for this particular menu). But Doug advised it's usually a little larger, but it was limited because of the holiday. There were also four starter options. The food preparations were simple, yet careful. This isn't fussy food. Nor, however, is it diner fare. The flavors of the dishes are to entertain the palate, but not overwhelm or confuse it.
For starters, my wife and I decided to split the last pork terrine order and a salad. The terrine had "homemade" written all over it. It was compacted, yet silky, and wrapped in bacon. It came adorned with grilled boule, haricot verts, cherry tomatoes, and olives. The field green salad was well dressed with a light balsamic.
For entrees, I ordered the pork tenderloin with pear chutney, served with roasted potatoes, and Marcia opted for the Portuguese stew. I thought it was a bit warm for that, but Doug was heartily endorsing it. The third entree option was a game hen. The pork was cut into medallions first, then grilled, and was tender and juicy. The stew had a great bean melange, garlic sausage, and a flavorful tomato base.
For dessert, we split a raspberry charlotte, which was a cylinder of lady fingers around a pastry cream toped with fresh raspberries. Doug was concerned that it might be a little dry, but I didn't think so.
The total bill was $41.
Bakery on Grand just (finally) got their beer and wine license, but won't be pouring until July 14. Until then, they are still allowing diners to bring their own. They open the bottle and pour in the back, then bring your wine out to you. Doug promises an eclectic selection of primarily European wines, with a few New World offerings for those who must have in-your-face fruit and oak. He also promises attractive pricing and good stemware. He used to be the headwaiter at Rock Star, The Local, and Aquavit. So he knows the importance of a good wine list (the first two had one, Aquavit didn't).
The atmosphere is very casual. The dining room is in front and seats 30 in a mix and match decor. The two-tops are quite small. Fortunately, we were seated at a four-top. There is room for a couple sidewalk tables, which might not be a bad idea. No artwork adorns the walls yet, but Doug showed me a picture of a piece that will cover the length of one wall. Beyond the dining area is the bakery counter, and behind that the rest of the kitchen. No smoking anywhere.
The air conditioner was humming at full throttle, but you wouldn't know it from the temperature inside the restaurant. They need to get that fixed. Until they do, they also need to put ice in the water pitcher. Our water came at room temperature, which was a little too European for me.
Service was casual and unhurried. There is a staff, but Doug had given them the holiday off. With such a light clientele, he and Jesica were able to spend some time talking with us. We were also give a round of boule to take home, which we ate for breakfast the following morning -- it was hearty with a good sourdough-ish bite.
Overall, I enjoyed the experience very much. We will be back to see how well they make good on what they've promised. The place epitomizes neighborhood restaurant, and Bakery on Grand is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If I lived in the neighborhood, it would be a frequent hangout -- it's that kind of place, a place one might hang out. Surprisingly, there aren't many of these in the Twin Cities. "Neighborhood" restaurant either seem to be somewhat destination restaurants (Alma, Zander, etc.), or they tend to be sub-par. Bakery on Grand has found that middle ground.