Taking advantage of my restaurant.com booty from a few months back, we decided to hit up Grumpy’s Café in Tremont this past Saturday night.
From their website: Grumpy’s is a local Tremont favorite that sits in a newly renovated building with bold colors to offset the ever changing artwork on the walls of our two dining rooms – seating a total of 80. Our breakfast during the week and brunch throughout the weekend cannot be beat. Lunches inclue healthy portions of affordable dishes that vary in taste from comfort foods to daily fresh fish specials that cater to a quick in and out. Dinner is served in our quiet laid back setting that you will enjoy with our menu packed full of exceptional American and southwest cuisines. Our goal is to have our customers leave with a smile and come back often!
I enjoyed Grumpy’s physical attributes: a great décor inside, a parking lot outside. Anytime that I don’t have to parallel park is a much better time for all parties involved.
As it was our first time there, I asked the waitress her thoughts on a few items as their menu had far too many tasty sounding choices. I was glad to hear that Grumpy’s took full advantage of their close location to the West Side Market. She noted many of my favorite vendors as talking thru the regular menu and specials for the day.
I was leaning towards either the chicken stir fry (which caught my sense of smell on the walk to our table) or the veggie wrap, which she said were two of her favorite selections. When she mentioned the soups of the days, she was very eager to recommend the Italian wedding soup, saying it was “very good today”. She even went as far to say “I’m Italian, so I would know.”
That said, we started with a small order of Grumpy’s Nachos: tortillas smothered with chorizo, Texas caviar, cheddar cheese, 801 salsa and sour cream. “Texas caviar” is a five bean salad. The 801 Salsa was made up of okra, corn, roasted tomatoes and jalapeno:
The tortilla chips and cheddar were standard, but the Texas caviar bean salad and that salsa were anything but ordinary. I loved the variety of veggies in the 801 salsa – the okra was a great surprise! It was sweet, spicy, cheesy: definitely a good showing for a standard restaurant appetizer.
Hans ordered the Corned Beef Ruben with Cajun Home Fries:
I grabbed a bite of his sandwich before he inhaled it: the meat was a bit on the fatty side (even for corned beef) but still was a solid Ruben. On the other hand, the Cajun home fries were on the wrong side of done and hardly “Cajun”, which surprised me after the nice spice we experienced in the nacho starter. Hans finished maybe half of the home fries – those of which that weren’t over done.
I ordered the Grilled Vegetable Wrap with a cup of Italian wedding soup. I asked to sub the cheddar cheese with pepper jack and asked for the chipotle mayo on the side.
Let’s start with the wrap: I really liked the variety of veggies used in the wrap and was very happy I subbed the pepper jack cheese to give it a nice kick. The wrap itself actually had some flavor for a wheat wrap, but was soggy from the moment it was placed in front of me. After removing the uber-soggy sections, I enjoyed my selection.
But that bowl of soup: You may remember from my review of La Strada, traditional Italian wedding soup is an Italian-American soup consisting of green vegetables and meat.
From the wiki page, ingredients consist of green vegetables (usually endive and escarole or cabbage, lettuce, kale, and/or spinach) and meats (usually meatballs and/or sausage) in a clear chicken-based broth. Wedding soup sometimes contains pasta, noodles, cavatelli, lentils, or shredded chicken.
Look at that bowl: what do you see? Chunks of carrots. As an old coworker of mine used to say “Oh, HELL to the no.” Upon further inspection, I found noodles that looked like something out of a Campbell’s can. I didn’t taste horrible by any means, but I was so disappointed. I felt like I was eating canned chicken soup, but with meatballs in place of pieces of poultry. When our server came back, she enthusiastically asked how I liked the soup, and I gave my best half-hearted “it’s good” in reply. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I wanted to take away her American Italian Heritage Association membership.
LONG STORY SHORT: I had always heard outstanding things about Grumpy’s Café breakfast options, some of which found their way onto their lunch/dinner menu. We unfortunately didn’t order any of those options, but still had a decent meal. I’d like to return to Grumpy’s for dinner again to try a few more of their entrees and definitely plan to wake up early on a Sunday for a solid breakfast. Overall, we had friendly service, plenty of food and a nice quiet meal.
…but that was no Italian wedding soup. Perhaps it’s another menu selection for Mama LaVecchia’s monthly cooking class… SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO!