Gramsky’s in Brooklyn Park
Amy Rea, Heavy Table
We recently received a reader tip that there was a sandwich shop in Brooklyn Park that was doing great work, and it wasn’t the same one we’d already covered. Great sandwiches andgreat Vietnamese? What else is going on up there in Brooklyn Park? We’ve been on a roll with our visits to the northern suburbs, so we figured, why not see what Gramsky’s was all about?
As first impressions go, it wasn’t that exciting. Located in a strip mall near a Festival Foods, it appears similar to every other quick-service eatery in such a location. But appearances are deceiving. Behind Gramsky’s counter, chef Jeannette Nevilles is focusing on country-style cooking, using many recipes she picked up during a stint in Iowa.
On our visit, we brought a born-and-bred Iowan, who still visits Iowa periodically, to get some of those home-cooked delicacies that are not so easily available north of the Iowa border. On our visit, we were disappointed to learn that the pork tenderloin sandwich, an Iowa staple, is offered only in the summer.
But our disappointment disappeared quickly when we got our first bite of the Italian Grinder ($7 sandwich only, $13 basket with fries and drink). The grinder has to be ordered at least a day ahead, and you’ll be asked to provide a pickup time. Pay attention to that, and you’ll be rewarded, as we were, with a piping hot sandwich that hasn’t sogged through the bun. The broiled grinder was packed full of ground beef and Italian sausage — the latter with some kick to it — and layered with a heavy dose of cheese and a good handful of sliced bell peppers. The Iowan in our group noted that the meat was akin to that in Iowa’s Maid-Rite sandwiches (or, he added, “loose-meat sandwiches, for you Minnesotans”). It was a glorious, sloppy mess best eaten with knife and fork, zinging with flavor, and sized to share.
Our visit coincided with Taco Tuesday, and when in Rome … So we ordered the 10-inch Beef Taco, which is the Taco Tuesday special ($5, normally $8). Trust us when we tell you that one taco is sufficient for all but the hardiest appetites. The filling was basic: just ground beef (but highly seasoned), lettuce, tomatoes, jalapeños, and cheese, but the taco shell was a standout. Enormous, but delicate and crispy, it would be enjoyable all on its own with a bit of spicy salsa for dipping.
We figured we couldn’t go wrong ordering the Fried Catfish and Chicken Wings Platter ($12), and good Lord almighty, were we ever right. The food arrived hot out of the fryer, with the chicken wings wonderfully crispy outside and juicy and tender inside. The catfish was the highlight, though. As the Iowan at the table noted, “It took me back to my youth of fried catfish for dinner, which my father caught in the Mississippi and was prepared the same day. The best catfish I have had since leaving Iowa 38 years ago.” Thin pieces of catfish were perfectly cooked, moist and flaky, but not in the least bit greasy. They were breaded, but the fish underneath was the star of the dish. The accompanying French fries were fine too, but what everyone at the table wanted more of was that catfish.
So thank you, Heavy Table reader and tipster. We heartily agree with your recommendation and can’t wait for the warmer months so we can try the pork tenderloin sandwich. If we can bring ourselves to order it instead of the fried catfish. Or the Italian grinder.
Read the article on Heavy Table here.