Reservation for One: The Chive, Simply Good Café & Market

All photos by Aaron Leimkuhler.

The Chive, Simply Good Café & Market lets fresh, local ingredients shine in dishes that feel like what mom would make—if your mom were a really adept chef.

Fittingly, the Grandview restaurant is owned and operated by Michelle Brown, who shares the space with her son Nolan’s Transparent Brewing Co. The brewery is visually dominant thanks to a large central bar and prominently displayed list of refreshing, balanced beers on tap, while The Chive occupies a small corner to the left of the main entrance.

The two make for a slightly uncomfortable pair, despite their shared roots. Combining beer and food is nothing revolutionary, but The Chive’s eclectic, ingredient-driven food isn’t the most natural fit for a brewery setting, although some dishes lend themselves to it better than others.

Caprese salad

The restaurant’s menu is expansive and ever-changing based on what local products are available. Unlike many eateries, The Chive doesn’t settle for vague pronouncements about the locality of its food. Instead, it displays the percentage of ingredients locally sourced each week, with a goal of hitting a 75- to 95-percent goal year round. A long list of area growers and producers supply everything from meat, eggs, and produce to vanilla and candles.

Guests place their order and pay before seating themselves at one of the small tables situated throughout the space, or pick up items from the market selections, a collection of hand-labeled ice creams, syrups and stocks as well as granola, popcorn brittle, and toffees. A pair of large garage doors open onto a spacious patio with picnic tables during warm days. Polished concrete floors, a few reclaimed-wood accent walls, flowers arranged in old bottles scrubbed clean and soft, colorfully trimmed napkins create an atmosphere that’s homey and down-to-earth.

While all of the dishes have that same sense of care, they vary in style and complexity. Breakfast is served daily and features offerings such as a French toast with maple butter pecan syrup and a parfait with triple berry sauce, plus a daily egg sandwich and the T, T & J—tea, toast, and The Chive’s jam of the day.

Andouille sausage and shrimp po boy.

Brown and co.’s creativity really gleams when it’s time for lunch and dinner, starting with apple fritters. Crispy on the outside and fluffy within, the fritters have a nice heat from diced jalapeños and a different kind of spice from a luscious apple compote swirled over the top. The dish tastes like fall and gets boosted to the next level by an exceptional beer cheese sauce where the flavors meld in scrumptious harmony.

The green chili pork posole feels similarly cozy, with satisfying body added to the soup by hominy and salsa verde. The posole is hearty and filling with tender chunks of meat, although it could use a pinch more salt to bring the flavors into sharper focus.

The Chive also serves up a selection of salads, pizzas, and sandwiches. The bison biker burger is small but well-cooked and coated with a layer of jammy, brown caramelized onions. It comes with a choice of an underwhelming, slightly broken blue cheese sauce or that delectable beer cheese sauce, which is the clear winner and adds salty richness to the lean meat. Paper-thin sweet potato and potato chips come together as a side, no sogginess in sight.

Vanilla cheesecake with ground cherry sauce.

Entrées show a blend of influences: there’s the 99-percent local veggie fried rice as well as a pork meatball kabob, served with an over-aggressive za’atar spiced rice. The meatballs are packed with flavor and show dark, crusty spots announcing well-applied heat. Although the kebabs are on the dry side, it’s an issue easily rectified with a spoonful of tzatziki. Piled onto a triangle of garlic herb naan and topped with some pickled red onion, it’s a perfect bite.

Dessert circles back to home base with a variety of ice creams, vanilla cheesecake, and petite French apple cakes. The mocha cake is dense and fudgy, the rich chocolate taste offset by the subtle tang of the accompanying buttermilk ice cream.

Like most of what The Chive delivers, it’s simply good.

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