Grand Street Cafe has been a favorite off-Plaza destination since 1991. At the time, its wallpaper with willow branches protruding in 3D fashion and striped rattan chairs created an imaginative botanical scene which captivated diners. Though originally owned by the very successful PB&J group of restaurants, it was bought in 2009 by Rick and Kristi Ghilardi. Rick had been a partner in the business for 19 years, so the transition was seamless. Fortunately, the couple recognized the need to update the decor because a recent visit revealed a more subtle, neutral-toned atmosphere.
The layout is the same and the original striped rattan chairs remain. The signature grass-green color that has always graced the menus is now tied into the decor through its presence on the back wall, a splash of fun in an otherwise calm setting. It reminded me of Gram & Dun’s decor, and that’s a good thing.
Though the menu is also updated with new additions, it feels very much the same. You can still get that great pork chop; it just has a different twist. Same with the scallops and short ribs. Fans of Bill’s Chicken Salad will not be disappointed–though Bill (former owner Crooks) is no longer a part of the operation, his salad lives on.
We were there for lunch, so we didn’t go for the entrees. We started with their seasonal flatbread, which we both enjoyed immensely. The crust was thin, but with a slight chew. Onion marmalade, Maytag blue cheese, mission figs, arugula, shaved onion, grape tomatoes graced the top (it also came with prosciutto which we nixed) in ideal proportion to the size of the cut triangles, and the marmalade added a touch of sweetness.
Service continues to be a hallmark of this well-run establishment.