Sunday, November 22, 2009

Blue Plate Revisited

Highland Grill
771 Cleveland Ave S
St Paul MN, 55116

Anyone that has read this blog knows all too well that we are not fans of franchises or cookie cutter type restaurants. Our snobby nature keeps us from appreciating the benefits of these establishments. There is something to be said about a place that doesn't surprise you with wacky ingredients and won't be mind-blowingly good but will be consistently decent. What's the fun in that? We'd much rather roll the dice and find a hidden gem that may or may not be any good (preferably fancy, all-organic, local/sustainable, with room for a large group and great service, and also serves lots of meat, we're so low maintenance).

For this reason, we have not thoroughly explored the stable of Blue Plate restaurants, Edina Grill, Highland Grill, 3Squares Restaurant, Longfellow Grill, and the Groveland Tap. I wasn't in attendance at the previous underwhelming dining experience at the Highland Grill so my suggestion this morning was coolly received (even after I played the "it's where Rachael and I had our first date" card). I was informed that my idea would be discussed and I would be notified of our destination after a thorough vetting and everyone was given the opportunity for a veto. As our 9:30 eating time I approached, I called to inquire about the status of our location. I was informed that all were headed over to the Highland Grill and why wasn't I on the way because I was going to be late. Such are the perils of communicating with my mother. Or maybe that was my punishment for not driving over to Pemberley house (our friend Selena's wonderful nickname for Jimmy and Judy's house) before breakfast to be a part of the discussion.

I made it, a little late, but I made it. Since I arrived last and on my own, I got to enter the building by myself. This made me giddy since the Highland Grill has the best door in the world. You have to push a giant button to open it and it folds open mechanically. I like to pretend like I am entering a space ship. Further evidence that I am a giant child.

The spaceshipy decor extends beyond the door to the entire restaurant. It is a very nice space with cool touches, like mish-mash of various homey coffee mugs and terry cloth napkins. As Perley so aptly described it, the Highland Grill looks exactly like what would happen if the Pixar people created a diner for one of their movies.

The service was delightful and attentive. It takes a lot of refills before I say no to coffee and I reached that point today. Our server was also very patient and helpful as certain members of our group dithered over their orders.

The food was quite good and we had only minor complaints. The hash browns were nearly tremendous and those lucky enough to have some with their meal had to protect them from the ranging forks of jealous club members. I don't think Breakfast Club with ever become Blue Plate Inc. devotees, but with properly managed expectations no one was disappointed.

Amadeus-Eggs Benny. VERY good, perfectly crisp hash browns. The only negative was that the eggs were overcooked which robbed me of my favorite part of eggs benny, when I cut into the yolk and it spills out and mixes in with the the hollandaise sauce. Mmmmmmm. A-.

Alex-Salmon, cream cheese, and onion scramble. She was pleasantly surprised by her meal and raved about the hash browns. No grade provided, and she's a teacher!

Perley-Cakes, eggs, and links. Nothing to complain about, nothing to write home about. Solid B.

Sarah-Turkey burger. Very good fries. B.

Jimmy-French Toast (a choice that astounded the group since it contains no steak). Deemed solid. B.

Judy-Irish oatmeal. Judy though her oatmeal was too sweet. It was too sweet at the first bite and remained too sweet after she poured maple syrup on it. I love my crazy, crazy mother. No grade provided. She still hasn't figured out how to text her grade to me with her new phone. She knows how to turn it on and make a call, but texting? Not so much.