It is great to return!
by Andrew Chalk
I went by Grand Lux Cafe for a media event this week, my first visit since the pandemic, and it reminded me just how much of an experience it is. The decor itself reminds one of a Belgian or French coffee house from the Belle Epoque era. The selection on the menu is so massive and varied that one can go with just about any palate and be spoiled for choice. Plus, we were lucky to be served by Katy who set a cheerful tone and a capable demeanor throughout our meal. Everyone who has dined out since the Great Reopening knows that those attributes cannot be taken for granted in this difficult labor market. The problems that GM Billy described to us are those of most of the restaurant industry. One problem that Grand Lux does not have is getting customers. The large dining room was three quarters full late in a Wednesday lunch hour.
The excuse/reason/rationale for revisiting was something genuinely new at Grand Lux. A ‘Special Menu’ adding items to every section of the regular menu -- including cocktails. If you can tear yourself away from your regular favorite there is something here to make your tastebuds come alive. Start with one of the Small Plates where both the Crispy Vegetable Spring Rolls ($8.50) and the Chicken Samosas ($9.50) are wrapped in the most featherlite crisp wrapper you could imagine. It just disappears in your mouth. The spring rolls are best if wrapped in the supplied lettuce leaves, with a mint leaf stuffed inside, and then dipped in the sweet-hot chili sauce. Both are so easy to nibble on that you have to remind yourself to stop so that you have room for the next course.
That could be Ahi Tuna Poke ($15.95), a light and airy rendition of the Hawaiin favorite. The chopped raw tuna is accompanied by cucumber, avocado, scallions, rice, Kalamata olives and parsley leaves doused in a vinaigrette and sprinkled with bread crumbs. It is truely addictive!
Or, for more heft, and with a view to the colder weather coming in, Ricotta & Spinach Ravioli ($16.95) is Italian like an Italian. Al dente pasta, striking bronze tomato cream sauce, and piquant spots of sun-dried tomatoes are dangerously easy to savor.
This dish reminded me of a general impression Grand Lux always gives me. Eating is about deliciousness and everything on the Grand Lux menu has this front and centre in the original chef’s conception.
Being lunch time I demurred at cocktails but will return for that Lychee Martini. If the next Bond is southeast Asian this drink could catch on!
There is lots more on the Special Menu that is tasteworthy. I had a 100% success rate finding winners so a trip to Grand Lux should be on your plans real soon now.