French Meadow Bakery and Cafe

I’ll admit it: I’ve loved French Meadow Bakery and Cafe for years. So when we set out to have breakfast there this morning, it was not my first time. It wasn’t even my second time. Or my third, or fourth, or fifth…It was, however, my first experience taking this venue on the official tour and it was also my first time eating at their (relatively) new St. Paul location. But those two new factors had no effect on my already existing affinity for this gluten free-friendly bakery and cafe; it only enhanced it. Let me tell you why.

I pulled up to the small storefront bright and early this Sunday morning. The parking spots were plentiful and I parked close and sauntered right inside. Upon entering the venue, I was mildly confused as to where I should direct my attention because immediately to my left was an ordering counter from which you could purchase coffee and (deliciously delicious) baked goods while far back in front of me was what I suspected was a hostess stand. I pretended like I knew what I was doing and confidently walked toward the stand that I thought belonged to the hostess. Good news: it did.

A calm, florescently-dressed woman invited me to sit in a slim booth and another waitress immediately headed my way with a cup of coffee. Though she brought the coffee quickly and refilled it incessantly (THANK YOU), I will say that my biggest (and I suppose, only) complaint about French Meadow in general is the size of their coffee cups: small. But instead of whining about this element, I’m choosing to see it as an intentional move by French Meadow’s Minneapolis location (where you serve yourself) in order to encourage me to get up and walk around more frequently throughout my meal, thus minimally increasing my level of fitness. French Meadow is trying to save you money on your gym membership, people. You’re welcome. Perhaps the St. Paul location should consider making coffee self-serve also, for the sake of the health of the Twin Cities.

I checked out the menu and gazed around the wood paneled dining area as I waited for my breakfast companion to join me. The inside of the venue had a contemporary classic feel to it. It definitely looked as new as it is, but it lacked the fun, urban style of the Lyndale location. However, I have heard that they have a kick-ass patio (that doesn’t open until 9 a.m. due to city noise ordinances), so I may have been more jazzed about the environment had I had the opportunity to dine outside.

My friend arrived promptly and we proceeded to chat about the menu options. The St. Paul menu is huge and full of delightful variety. It’s also incredibly gluten-free and vegan-friendly. I almost feel like a normal person when I eat there! I was excited to try to branch out a little bit, so I decided on the Cajun Hashbrowns ($10). My breakfast companion excitedly selected the Crab Cake Benedict ($10).

photo 1

I sipped my absolutely fantastic cup of coffee (fully caffeinated, I may add – I’m now medically allowed one cup per day and on days I go to breakfast, ‘one cup’ equals however many I want) and awaited my meal for the morning. And friends, my wait was so minimal I’m not sure I was even ready to eat. Although, in reality, I’m always ready to eat, so I was ready to eat.

My plate was a) huge and b) beautiful. Roasted peppers, onions, garlic, and chicken chorizo were topped with mounds of organic hashbrowns. The hashbrowns were dense and clumpy, resembling real potatoes more than hashbrown shreds typically do. And I loved them this way. They were rich and moist with a tasteful amount of baked crisp on top. The roasted vegetables and garlic mixed into the potatoes like mandarin oranges into Thanksgiving jello, aka perfectly. The chicken chorizo added a strangely welcome kick, thoroughly seasoning the entire dish and fully fulfilling the ‘cajun’ title bestowed upon it.

photo 2

My friend’s breakfast consisted of two organic schultz poached eggs fixed atop black bean crab cakes with sautéed organic spinach and hollandaise sauce (plus a side of mixed greens). She thoroughly enjoyed her meal, though it wasn’t a glowing favorite. The crab cakes were hearty and savory, but not as sweet as you may expect from a typical crab cake. In this case, the crab was very subtle. The rather large side of mixed greens was far too plentiful for my friend but it would have been a nice, light option for most people. Overall, the benedict itself was denser than a typical benedict so it was a nice contrast to the traditional dish.

French Meadow is one of the best. Whether you enjoy breakfast on location at Grand or Lyndale (though I now have a strong preference toward the Lyndale location), you’ll have glorious food, bubbly and accommodating service, deliciously bold coffee, and a morning that you’ll smile at the memory of.

The Ratings:
Coffee Quality: 10
Food Quality: 9
Quality of Service: 9
Cost: 8
Menu Variety: 10
Overall Satisfaction: 10
Parking: street parking and small lot
Average Score: 9.3

french meadow outside

Have you been to French Meadow Bakery and Cafe?
Share your experience with me below!
OR…want to experience French Meadow Bakery and Cafe for yourself?
Check out their website or pop their address into your smartphone:
French Meadow Bakery and Cafe
1662 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105

Photo Credit

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