A grand dish at the grand cafe

Truth in advertising prevails: Everything I’ve tasted on the menu of the Grand Caf earns that superlative, but the grandest of the grand is its irresistible pot roast. And anyone who tries to tell you that one pot roast is just like any other clearly hasn’t eaten here.

Chef Justin Frederick knows his way around comfort food – and what’s more comforting than good, old-fashioned pot roast, I ask you? – but simply turning out Grandma’s version would soon put this creative chef to sleep. Yet he wanted something as traditional as this dish as a never-changing anchor on the caf’s small gem of a menu. So he took it up a notch or two.

And what’s more ‘up’ than Kobe? It’s the super-premium Japanese beef that’s totally off the budget of a small neighborhood caf – unless, that is, you opt for the highly marbled brisket – the toughest cut on the animal, the one no other chef is interested in slaving over – and then tenderize the heck out of it. And, while you’re at it, inject it with some cosmo flavorings that set it above and beyond the rest of its ilk.

Unless you’ve got lots of time on your hands, my advice is, don’t try this at home. Leave it to Justin to give the beef a spicy rubdown of coriander, cumin, fennel, powdered garlic, onion and chipotle peppers, then let it soak up those winsome flavorings for two days. Next, he takes the extra step of smoking it over oak for a couple of hours. Finally, it spends six more hours slow-braising to ensure that it’s delectably fork-tender. And, wonder of wonders, it’s almost an act of charity – a half-pound of Kobe beef for under 20 bucks.

Meat-and-potatoes, right? Well, the classic pot roast pairing has gone through a little update, too. The spuds are gently mashed, then stirred together with nuggets of roasted cauliflower and scallions, along with more olive oil and butter than you really want to know about. The final fillip is a mantle of seasoned breadcrumbs to pique your palate.

As if there were a need.

Dish it up in a cozy, comfy setting, along with a glass of something offbeat and red and wonderful, delivered by a server who seems to actually like working here and waiting on your pleasure, and life, indeed, starts looking grand.

Grand Caf

3804 Grand Ave. S.

822-8260