(Photo credit of Malone: Chris Bohnhoff Photography, 2015)
The Jamie Malone era has begun at Minneapolis' Grand Cafe.
Yes, while perhaps this is not the era you were anticipating – and while perhaps this particular era might be rather short – extensive delays with the upcoming Brut have led Malone down another, temporary path.
Before you ask, we hear you: future plans with Malone (and partner and fellow chef Erik Anderson) still center around Brut.
“It’s still happening, I promise,” Malone said last week.
But in the meantime, she has hopped aboard at the Kingfield establishment, and has already begun churning out what she spiritedly calls “old-fashioned food.”
Don’t mistake that phrase with boring or predictable, at least not in Malone's interpretation. A completely remade dinner menu celebrates classics like roast chicken, spaghetti with lobster and Cognac and duck cassoulet. It also boasts creative touches in items such as the chicken liver donut and andouille rillettes. Meats are braised and fresh bread is baked in the legendary large white oven in the center of the dining room.
“It’s just simple, straight-forward, very old-fashioned feeling,” Malone said. “My favorite thing on the menu is a blanquette de veau (a veal ragout) – it’s served with rice that we melt with a little bit of bone marrow and crispy sweetbreads, and it comes on a silver platter.”
The matter of the platters is another part of the charm that Malone sees in Grand. Shortly after arriving in late November – after former chef Andrew Kraft left for Chilkoot Cafe & Cyclery in Stillwater – Malone discovered a trove of elaborate serviceware in the storage area below the cafe.
“The first thing I did was dig around in the basement and pull up all of these really cool things,” Malone said. “It’s just really fun to serve old-fashioned food on old-fashioned plates.”
Anderson, meanwhile, who has been executing various pop-ups around town, will occasionally be preparing duck press dinners at Grand Cafe, Malone said, as the two of them continue to make preparations for an eventual Brut open.
During Malone’s stint at Grand – which she suggests will be open-ended but temporary – the cafe will have limited hours, serving brunch and dinner Thursdays through Sundays. The brunch menu, however, remains in tact.
“I haven’t touched it,” Malone said. “It’s just kind of an institution. There’s no reason to change it – it’s delicious and I think everyone comes in already knowing what they’re going to order.”
Oh, and regarding that other establishment, the elusive Brut, Malone isn’t dishing up many hints or time tables – yet.
“We’ve had some really promising movement,” she said. “We’ve just been kind of trying to stay quiet about it because we’re tired of feeling like we’ve been drawing it out so long.
“All I can say is all of the time we’ve waited is because we want to get it right. And I think it’s going to be worth it.”
Malone also left her staying potential with Grand Cafe up in the air. Will she remain involved in any way once Brut has debuted?
“I don’t know,” she said. “I know that Erik and I have both kind of fallen in love with the restaurant but obviously Brut is our priority, Brut is our baby.”