Getting Grand(view) Food at a Fair(view) Price

By Lavender March 28, 2008

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I always have wanted to bond with the gals from Sex in the City, gossiping over salads at the Coffee Shop on the west side of Union Square in Manhattan. Then, I found the Grandview Grill, on the corner of Fairview and Grand Avenues in St. Paul. The retro chrome chairs, café tables, and booths lining the walls are the mirror image of the Coffee Shop.

Turkey Clubhouse

Arriving for lunch, I was greeted at the cash register by a young man with a big smile. But that’s how I have always been greeted at the Grandview Grill—like a friend. I opt out of the booth and tables to sit at the counter—again, very retro. I wanted to watch the kitchen and the workings of this restaurant to really be a part of the action.

I immediately ordered an Ernie Palmer (half iced tea and half lemonade). My server provided a menu, and I searched for something that I hadn’t ordered before. You see, I have been to the Grandview Grill oodles of times to meet friends for breakfast, brunch, and lunch, as well as a monthly meeting with my publisher when my cookbook first was being released.

I scanned the menu. Breakfast items, which are served all day, were out of the equation. I ordered the Turkey Clubhouse, as I needed something light. It’s served on toast (your choice of bread) with turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, Swiss cheese, and mayo ($7.95). As my side, I chose the incredible waffle fries. I could have picked coleslaw, chips, hash browns, or a salad, but the waffle fries are legendary. Being a boy from North Dakota, it’s all about the potatoes—and, because it’s the United Nations International Year of the Potato, I got to be an ambassador. I placed my order.

While eyeing the rest of the menu, I noticed the Santa Fe Chicken Wrap with grilled fajita chicken, sautéed with onions, mushrooms, and melted Swiss cheese, wrapped in an herbed tortilla, with sour cream and salsa on the side ($6.95). Also offered is a Chicken Caesar Wrap with fresh romaine lettuce, fajita chicken (for spice), Parmesan, croutons, and Caesar dressing ($6.95).

Cashew Chicken Salad

Grandview Grill’s burgers are large—one-half pound of lean ground beef, served with coleslaw, fries, chips, hash browns, or salad. You also can choose from Swiss or American cheese to make it a cheeseburger. The Grandview Burger is served on thick sourdough toast, with your choice of cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo—for $8.95.

I spotted a sandwich as it came up to be served: the Cashew Chicken Salad Sandwich. Wow! is all I can say. Grilled chicken and crunchy fresh cashews served on wild rice bread ($7.95). Or, the Cashew Chicken Salad is piled high on a bed of lettuce, and served with a corn muffin on the side ($7.95). Both are beautiful things to behold.

Grandview Grill has a children’s menu for kids 10 and under that includes a small beverage. The Barney Breakfast serves one egg, two small pancakes, and two sausage links ($2.95). Thomas the Tank is a small grilled cheese sandwich with fries ($2.95).

Breakfasts at Grandview Grill’s are incredible. I have tried just about every item over the past couple years. Manager Tracie Glazek shared that the Cajun Breakfast—a New Orleans original, crispy hash browns grilled with green peppers, onions, and mushrooms, topped with cheddar cheese and over-easy eggs, smothered with hollandaise sauce, and sprinkled with Cajun spices, plus you get toast ($8.95)—is the most popular item.

I love the Benedicts. My favorite is the Eggs Florentine—a toasted English muffin with red-ripe tomatoes and fresh spinach, topped with two poached eggs, and smothered in hollandaise sauce, with hash browns alongside ($8.95). The Crab Cake Benedict ($9.25) and the Steak and Eggs Benedict ($9.95) are also very good.

Eggs Benedict

Grandview Grill has been open for 22 years. Its most notable customers have been former Vice President Al Gore and Senator Norm Coleman.

Glazek told me that Grandview Grill will be tweaking the menu very soon, adding new items, such as Cookie Dough Pancakes and Malts, rather than taking anything away. I’m all for that! She also mentioned late night hours on Friday and Saturday might be in store, which would make for a great evening after leaving the Grandview Theater.

My Turkey Club arrived, and it was anything but light. It was rather large, but I took my time to finish as much as possible. It was perfect lunch, and later, I was off shopping to buy a new pair of men’s Aldos.

John Michael Lerma is a local chef, author, and Food Network personality. His company Garden County Cooking offers cookbooks, cooking classes, consulting, private events, and culinary vacations to Italy and the Caribbean. Visit www.GardenCounty.info. Check out his new “Word of Mouth” Blog under “Extras” at www.LavenderMagazine.com.

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