50th Street Cafe
Pearson’s is reincarnated into a new establishment serving a scrumptious breakfast and dinner menu.
If you were a fan of Pearson’s—one of the few restaurants in Edina that still faithfully served its brand of Scandinavian nostalgia—the faded signs in the parking lot are not your only physical link to the past. It has been sold and renamed, with the dining room partitioned into two separate businesses. Other than that, the newly christened 50th Street Café retains the Pearson’s original 1973 vibe, with brown vinyl booths, dark wood, and far-out lighting fixtures. I was just thrilled to be in a place that has a little bit of soul, and hasn’t replaced it all with blond wood and chrome. It doesn’t hurt that the vintage 1970s decor makes me feel a whole lot younger.
I actually toyed with writing this piece as if I were hung over, because honestly, this is the perfect spot for a part-time weekend soak to start the day. The lighting isn’t too bright, the staff is friendly without being chirpy, and the menu has all the comfort food you need to make last night seem like it never happened. I’m not sure the Edina crowd uses the 50th Street Café for the purpose of soaking up last night’s martinis, but they should. Alas, I was not hung over when I went. Maybe next time.
We started with the Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes ($6.50). I’m always surprised when otherwise sane people are extremely fussy about their pancakes, but I do notice when they’re done well. Everyone has a preferred thickness and consistency. In this case, I lucked out. I like them not too thick, not too thin, delicate and fluffy, but with some bite. Voila!—the 50th Street Café’s pancakes. In this dish containing sweet pineapple, they are bathed in a tantalizing homemade vanilla cream sauce, and are served with a small scoop of cinnamon-laced butter. You can get a single cake for just $4, which may be all you need—the pancakes are full-dinner-plate size.
The Apple Streusel Pancake is still officially off-menu, but available as a special until it makes its formal debut. Crunchy streusel topping, a drizzle of caramel, and that same life-affirming cinnamon butter make for a decadent treat my dining partner described thus: It’s like a cinnamon roll that has been unrolled and pressed flat. Benefits to the shape shift are that it’s a lot more moist, and the streusel and caramel are distributed evenly. I suffer from lack of a sweet tooth, but even I was drawn in by this one.
The Carnita Benedict ($9.50) manages to straddle Edina and Mexico, and come up right in the middle—probably somewhere around Oklahoma. There’s not a lot you can’t love about pulled pork, refried black beans, and mild pico de gallo piled on a homey buttermilk biscuit. Throw a couple of eggs on top and a ladle of hollandaise sauce, and yeah…you’re pretty much good. I appreciated that the carnita wasn’t also covered with a thick, gooey skin of melted cheese—a lot of breakfast places simply go overboard on the stuff, with the result that you can’t enjoy much else.
Both the Carnita Benedict and the Cajun Breakfast ($9.50) are served with hash browns—the shoestring kind you fantasize about at 3 AM. Crispy on top, soft and buttery in the middle, they may take up half the plate, but somehow manage to disappear by the time the check arrives. The Cajun Breakfast (peppers, onions, and mushrooms topped with a healthy amount of cheddar cheese, over-easy eggs, a dash of Cajun spices, and hollandaise sauce) has a little more bite to it than the Carnita, but unless you can’t abide any spice at all, I’d still categorize it as mild.
We probably dwelled on breakfast a little too long to appreciate the lunch menu fully, but the El Cubano ($9) is a real sweetheart of a sandwich, with ham, pulled pork, pepper-jack cheese, mustard, and pickles on a ciabatta hoagie roll, served with sweet potato tater tots. If you decide to eat the tots, be cautious—after tasting them, regular tater tots will never be quite as satisfying as they once were. The dipping sauce is a little sweet, but it’s optional.
If the owner’s decision to retain the original Pearson’s decor wasn’t enough of an indication, the café does place a high priority on recycling and reducing its carbon footprint. Additionally, it may look and act like an old-fashioned diner, but one can find organic, fair-trade coffee, plus decent options for vegetarians.
50th Street Café
3808 W. 50th St., Mpls.