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Café Grace’s Classic Bistro

A touch of Paris at The Mayfair Collection

Sep. 13, 2016
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Photo Courtesy of Cafe Grace

Café Grace is just one component of a larger footprint of newer eateries at The Mayfair Collection in Wauwatosa, also home to sports tavern ABV Social, taco shop Taqueria El Jefe and fast-casual Osgood’s (burgers, hot dogs). All of them were created as a result of a partnership between Phoenix Hospitality Group (owner) and Bartolotta Restaurant Group (management and operations).

I followed the lead established by the restaurant’s aesthetic and went “classic bistro” when approaching the menu, curious to see what time-honored dishes would be executed with tradition versus those prepared with a contemporary spin. 

A selection from the raw bar is a lovely way to start the meal—we chose Capital oysters from Washington State ($2.50 a piece or $24 per dozen). The oyster selection rotates weekly; ask your server for details. Ours had a sea salt flavor with a slightly creamy finish, a characteristic common in some oysters from the West Coast and were served with mignonette and cocktail sauce topped with freshly grated horseradish.

Gougères ($5) are little bites of baked paté choux pastry filled with Grand Cru fondue. Translation: slightly deflated ping pong ball-shaped savory donuts with warm cheese lava inside. Heavenly.

The Cassolette d’Escargots ($12) is a successful combination of two classic French preparations. In this version, flageolet beans, cooked slowly with assorted vegetables and herbs to a thick rich finish, are studded with sautéed Burgundy snails that appear to be encased in a garlicky pesto-like coating. The plating of this contemporary rendition is beautifully artistic and vibrant with various shades of green and orange. An almost transparent sheet of crisp pastry completes the dish.

Soupe a l’Oignon (French onion soup on most other menus, $8) arrived to the table in perfect photo shoot-ready form. It is in a white porcelain crock—the top and sides covered entirely in what can be described as a “magic shell”-like coating of perfectly brûléed Alpine-style cheese. Picking the crispy cheese pieces off the bowl is a productive and delicious way to pass time while anxiously waiting for the soup to cool slightly to a manageable temperature.

Croque-Madame ($14) at first glance resembles a squarish-shaped cake blanketed in a thin marshmallow frosting—oh wait—that’s cheese sauce! The bread beneath, protecting the thin slices of griddled French ham and Gruyére, despite being buried under velvety Mornay somehow miraculously still delivers the texture and flavor of a crispy, buttery croissant. So oozy and rich; was the fried egg on top of it all even necessary? Of course it was! Served with choice of frites or petit salad, I recommend the latter as the crisp and slightly acidic vinaigrette provides a welcome palate cleanser in between the savory bites.

I can imagine that dining alfresco at Café Grace on a nice day might transport you to a sidewalk café in Paris where you’re surrounded by some of the choicest shopping destinations available. In Wauwatosa, those choices include HomeGoods, Whole Foods and Nordstrom Rack—not to mention a pretty decent view of Highway 45. OK, so passport not required, but the drink menu features a handful of cocktails specially prepared with absinthe (a strong anise-flavored liquor with a mysterious and famous history), so if you go that route, one way or another you might end up thinking you’re in Paris after all.

Café Grace

11200 W. Burleigh St.

414-837-6310

$$-$$$

cafegracemke.com

Handicapped access: Yes

Credit Cards Accepted, Full Bar, Outdoor Dining, Reservations Accepted

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