Shh! Colossal Cafe is great


1839 E. 42nd St., Minneapolis

To the best of my knowledge, restaurant critics have no formalized and universally applied code of ethics. If one were to be written, however, it should probably include a clause about not hoarding little secret eating spots for your own enjoyment, regardless of how small (and therefore easily swamped) they may be.

That way, when forced to write about a place like Colossal Cafe for a mass audience, it's a simple matter of professionalism, not selfishness versus conscience.

Clean and modern, Colossal Cafe looks and feels like a typical, small south Minneapolis coffee shop. It can't have more than a dozen chairs, and service is casual, with all orders placed at a small counter in front of the kitchen. But in place of conventional neighborhood coffee shop/diner breakfast food, Colossal Cafe offers several light, fresh, and novel approaches to what can otherwise be the heaviest meal of the day. Look online for user reviews of Colossal and the word "ethereal" comes up more than once.

That's not to imply that Colossal Cafe serves up fairy food. For example, it's commonly acknowledged that Al's Breakfast makes the best pancakes in the metro area, but if those were served side-by-side with the rich and substantial apple, walnut, and brie flappers ($8.99) made by Colossal Cafe, impartial judges would be torn to the point of insanity. The CC cakes are things of wonder—fluffy and elegant without being dull, mealy, or bread-like, as are so many of their competitors. And the brie? A righteous note of brilliance. Looks strange, jars you out of your morning reverie, tastes creamy and buttery and perfectly aligned with the ocean of walnut, cinnamon, and apple notes it swims in.

Omelets at Colossal are done right—they're feather-light and balanced beautifully between eggs and other ingredients. A sausage, green onion, tomato, cilantro, and pepper-jack cheese omelet ($7.99) sounds like a potential train wreck, but on the plate and palate, the damn thing is a symphony.

A homemade biscuit, bacon, and cheddar breakfast sandwich ($4.29) was disappointing only when compared to other offerings. The egg and biscuit, both quite decently handled, muffled surprisingly unassertive bacon.

The best thing in the café isn't on the breakfast menu, however. The restaurant also offers dinners to go, which rotate monthly. A recent visit turned up a chicken potpie for $8.99 that may be one of the best dollar-to-pleasure ratios anywhere in the Twin Cities. The pie boasted moist, delicate chicken, a surprisingly light cream sauce with a hint of white wine, tiny bits of flavorful red bell pepper, and a buttery, tender crust. Size-wise, it was easily three light meals.

For those willing to dine in cramped and ironically named quarters, the rewards of Colossal Cafe are plentiful. But until the place expands and lives up to its billing, there's always takeout.