As with anything in miniature, the original Colossal Cafe was beloved for its tiny stature. But you can only get so far on cute. Even a beauty queen needs a few brains in order to pass. So it was darling, yes, but it was quality too, where every little thing was made from scratch, the flappers were a yeasty departure from kids's-stuff flapjacks, and the owner was also the feisty short-order cook who treated every egg like it was laid by the golden hen.
A community gathering space, a modern day diner, a wee institution.
But just like anything diminutive yet beloved, it grew up big and multiplied, and now there are three. The newest incarnation on Grand Avenue looks nothing at all like its tight-quartered cousin, and more like an all-American, any city cafe, with sunshine streaming through the paned windows and an exposed tin ceiling offering echo for the silverware-banging kid, now serving not just breakfast classics but craft beer and Cubanos, cold press coffee, and house-smoked trout.
But bigger doesn't necessarily — and often doesn't — mean better. What's it like?
The newest incarnation (they also have a beloved second outpost in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood) occupies a space in the bustling neighborhood that needs a place just like it. Where dusty guys in construction gear can stop off for a meatloaf sandwich and a cold one, where old-timers can get the all important 11 a.m. half sandwich and soup, where the side on every plate is a wedge of orange and a tangle of gnarly grapes and that's just the way it is and no one would dream of expecting any other thing.