Chefs Erik Anderson and Jamie Malone are headed back into the kitchen. After a lengthy hiatus — much of it filled with trying to get their long-planned Brut restaurant off the ground — the couple is landing at the Grand Cafe, taking over the 10-year-old south Minneapolis restaurant from current owners Dan and Mary Hunter. The plan is to get their version of Grand Cafe up and running in early May, devoting April to a quick renovation. Quick, but not drastic.
"It already has such a cool vibe that you really can't build," said Anderson. "We're just going to put our own touches on it." That includes installing a 1920s zinc-topped bar, and hand-painted wallpaper that they unearthed in Paris. It's all part of the collecting mode that Anderson finds himself in. "I'm freaking out over mismatched china," he said with a laugh. "I'm thinking of well-executed food on funky plates. I'm so over earthenware plates." Not a lot of details on the menu, at least not yet. "I don't want to back myself into a corner," said Anderson. "But I love French cooking. I'm thinking about poultry and raw oysters. There's a place in Paris called Clown Bar, it's super-cool. They're calling it 'bistronomy.' You know, great food, but a neighborhood atmosphere." (Those pressed duck pop-up dinners that Anderson has been conducting recently at the Grand, using a 100-year old press? They're part of the plan.) Staffers who have signed on include chef de cuisine Alan Hlebaen and baker Jonathan da Silveira. And yes, da Silveira will be using the kitchen's massive 1951 Baker Boy oven, a beloved relic from the days when the space was the longtime home of the Grand Bakery, and then the Bakery on Grand. For openers, the plan is dinner, and weekend brunch. "We're not going to mess the brunch, because people love it," said Anderson. "It'll be fun." Lunch will come later. The plan is to follow the format of a coffeehouse that made a highly favorable impression during a recent trip to London, which served sausage rolls, sweet and savory pastries, and coffee. "That's going to be our vibe," said Anderson. As for Brut, "We're putting it on hold," he said. "We have this great opportunity at the Grand, so let's get this up and going, and in a year or so we'll come back around to Brut."