Chicken Jambonette with Savora Mustard at Grand Cafe

James Norton / Heavy Table

They are really going for it at the new, Erik-Anderson-and-Jamie-Malone-powered Grand Cafe. In terms of technique, ingredients, presentation, and overall ambition, the dishes coming out of the kitchen at the new Grand can stand up to anything in town.

At a recent meal, we encountered hits (plentiful) and near misses (a few), and a couple of dishes so good that we’d have them again tonight, given the chance. One was a bourbon baba that commanded the ravenous attention of everyone at the table. The other was the Chicken Jambonette ($6).

Put crudely, think of the best meatball you’ve ever eaten, wrapped in a crispy, crunchy, deep-fried exterior. This is one of the dishes that lives or dies based on execution. Ruin the fry job or the seasoning or the texture of the chopped chicken and ham, or even the thickness of the exterior, and you bring the whole dish down to mediocre. But the version we ate was impeccable, no edits possible — lovely seasoning and herbal kick; an even, delicate texture that still possessed some rustic charm; a crispy, crackly exterior that wasn’t too tough or thick and clung firmly to its interior. The Savora condiment that accompanied the dish had its own herbal depth and possessed a gentle heat. This is a subtle, crafty mustard, not an acrid blunderbuss.

When you see the Chicken Jambonette on the menu, order it. Maybe order one per diner. It’s a lot of fun to taste a dish that seems so simple while it delivers such a tremendously fun blast of flavor and texture.
Grand Cafe, 3804 Grand Ave S, Minneapolis; 612.822.8260

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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