Big news, the rumors are true. Star chefs Jamie Malone and Erik Anderson, both formerly named Food & Wine Best New Chefs in America, whom we all have been waiting to open their fine dining spot Brut, are opening a different restaurant—the very one Malone has been cooking at this year, beloved South Minneapolis semi-French spot Grand Cafe.
"We had this great opportunity to do this place," Anderson told me just now on the phone. "We love the restaurant and wanted to keep it a neighborhood place," after longtime owners Dan and Mary Hunter announced they wanted to move on from their ten-year run. What to expect from this new iteration of Grand Cafe? Anderson reports that brunch will remain much the same, and the focus will remain on the generally French farmhouse fare the place has been known for—and Anderson will even continue the pressed-duck dinners that he sold out at the spot last fall. "Both Jamie and I lean towards that classic French cooking," Anderson told me. "Approachable neighborhood food that's rooted in French cuisine. With that, we'll have a big focus on local beef and birds—Jamie and I both love cooking birds, pheasant, pigeon, quail, guinea fowl." Sounds good, Minnesota pheasant deserves way more attention than it gets, in my opinion.
As if Anderson and Malone were not big enough stars for that little spot, they're bringing in more. Like Bill Summerville, long time sommelier at dear departed La Belle Vie and opening wine guy at Spoon and Stable, to help build the wine program. And Alan Hlebean, who cooked at the French Laundry in California for 3 years after starting as a teenager at Restaurant Levain with Steven Brown, then working for Anderson at Sea Change, and then Catbird Seat. Johnny Silvera who formerly did bread for Sea Change will be leading the baking program at this new version of the Grand Cafe, Anderson says he makes fantastic laminated dough, so look for new levels of croissant at brunch. "We want it to feel like a neighborhood place," Anderson told me. "A place you can just walk in, and it feels right. I've been going crazy buying vintage cordial glasses, mismatched French china, and we got this very cool hand-painted wallpaper from Paris. We're super excited about it all."
Timeline? Expect the Grand Cafe to officially close in April for some kitchen updates. Once those are complete they're hoping for a May opening.
What's the status of Brut? It's coming, says Anderson, but maybe not for a couple years still—be patient! In the mean time grouse, Bordeaux, and croissants are coming back to South Minneapolis, courtesy of quite an all-star team. Break a leg, all—or do we say in French, casser une jambe?