Food to Improve the Mood

Tasty dishes just like mom used to make.
Warm up on a cold day with a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup from Red Cow.

Like a miracle cure, a healthy dose of comfort soothes the stress and strain of modern life. Good food sets the mood, and Edina restaurants have a vast selection. Satiety, that full feeling that lingers, defines the comfort-food family. Soup, grilled cheese, pot roast, chocolate, cheesecake, bars and other temptations have a comforting allure. Pleasant food memories take you back to the farm, the cabin, the childhood home, and all is well. Comfort food is tasty, filling and soothing. With food this decadent and delicious, you may need a second helping.


Red Cow
There’s no argument: grilled cheese constitutes true comfort food. With potato chips as a secret ingredient and a side of housemade tomato soup, you are on your way to soul-satisfying bliss. The unusual combination of chips and cheeses melds into a deliciously gooey sandwich filling. Crackly grilled wedges of earthy sourdough bread ooze with butter, cheddar, Gruyere, smoked Gouda and snappy barbecue potato chips. Make good use of the irresistibly indulgent sandwich; dunking is mandatory. “What I like the most is the crunch appeal. It’s nice to have crunch in a grilled cheese. I like the texture side of it,” says Michael Giacomini, director of finance. Be bold and customize your sandwich with applewood bacon or fresh avocado, but whatever you do, be sure to leave in the potato chips. $10.50.


Convention Grill
If ever there was a place that bestows complete comfort with food, it is the Convention Grill. The surroundings—classic art deco glowing neon, black and white tiled floors, bright gingham tablecloths, comfy vinyl booths and shiny chrome accents—put you in a nostalgic mood. Here, the culmination of old-fashioned comfort comes piping hot in a bowl of homemade chicken soup. A staple for 51 years, this classic is such a reliable pleaser, a batch is freshly made at least once daily. Chunks of fryer chicken, onions, celery and wide egg noodles simmer into a heavenly soup. Chicken broth and a dash of salt and pepper provide traditional seasoning. “Not enough places serve simple soup,” says Don Rimdrcik, owner. If one bowl isn’t enough, don’t be shy. Refills are on the menu! Top off your soup with a scrumptiously sweet sundae or malt. $5.95, refills $2.50.


See’s Candies
Chocolate has a reputation for comfort. Name the problem; chocolate is the answer. Paired with peanut butter, chocolate’s alluring spell is invincible. See’s does the combination proud with rich peanut butter and extra-flavorful aged chocolate. Try to eat just one! Keep your guard up or the whole box could disappear fast. While most See’s fans enjoy peanut butter patties on their own, some get adventurous. Imagine graham crackers and globs of jelly for over-the-top add-ons. From simple to sublime, there’s no bad way to eat a peanut butter pattie. $19.90 plus tax, per pound.


Who doesn’t like a little lasagna love? At Davanni’s, an old family recipe holds true to Old World origins. Layers of zesty sauce, spicy sausage, thick cheese and al dente noodle sheets make lasagna a true Italian-style comfort food. The aroma of browned cheese and herby garlic will make your mouth water. Indulge your senses with this hearty 15-layer lasagna brimming with Neapolitan flavor. “It sticks to your ribs, and you feel like you accomplished something after you eat it,” says Tim Huberty, marketing director. “A serving size is 3 to 4 inches tall. It’s a big piece of food.” Savor every morsel and waste none of the housemade red sauce. Fresh crispy ciabatta garlic toast comes alongside. $8.49, $4.89 half, $49.99 whole pan.


Ambrosia Coffee & Café
A good cup of coffee perks up an ordinary day, and a fancy espresso drink is better still. Part hot cocoa, part coffee, and all the way around delicious, the raspberry white mocha has the best of everything. From the top, fluffy whipped cream with red raspberry syrup drizzle is too tempting to resist. Then sip a brew of Fair Trade Organic Black Lotus espresso, Torani raspberry syrup and Ghirardelli classic white chocolate premium frappe steamed into your favorite milk. Melt away your woes with a not-too-sweet brew of caffeinated joy. $5.25.


Queen of Cakes Design Studio
Happiness is a six-pack of scotcheroo bars. Plain and simple, but oh so sublime, this humble breakfast cereal-based square bestows goodness from within—chewy, creamy, dreamy. Queen of Cakes housemade scotcheroos trump ordinary Rice Krispie bars. Bite into a buttery caramelized cereal no-bake cookie base, capped with chocolate-butterscotch frosting. Instantly, you go back to a simpler time: Mom, school friends, bake sales, lost hours of childhood glee ... Youth tastes like a scotcheroo bar brimming with freshness and joy. “Adults say they’re buying them for their kids, but they’re buying them for themselves,” says Terri Leckas, owner. Scotcheroos are tidy sugary treats that demand a nibble, a big bite and another, bar after bar. See if you can keep from sampling them on the drive home. $7.


Pittsburgh Blue
Take comfort in pot roast with all the trimmings. This is melt-in-your-mouth, hot-from-the-oven meat like Mom used to make. Norman Rockwell would find inspiration from this bounty of traditional heartland foods. Classic French beef bourguignon acquires New World sensibilities from sides of mashed potatoes, baby carrots, mushrooms and horseradish. As executive chef Anthony Leonhardi says, “Midwestern beef chuck roast braised in red wine, veal stock and Nueske’s bacon—what’s not to love?” Ask about the $10 bottle of wine exclusive for Sunday Supper pot roast diners. $24.95 dinner (serves two to four people).


The Cheesecake Factory
The luxuriant qualities of cheesecake define the concept of comfort food. You can’t go wrong with fresh strawberry cheesecake. This flavor started the Cheesecake Factory legend—humble beginnings from a newspaper recipe clipping. Today, the fresh strawberry cheesecake tops the restaurant’s long list of desserts as the No. 1 seller. Rich cheesecake has a comforting heft and welcoming flavor, “reminiscent of Mom’s recipe,” says Alethea Rowe, senior director, public relations and brand management. The essence of vanilla lingers after every bite. Sculptural ribbon candy-like dollops of fresh whipped cream and huge glimmering, glazed-covered strawberries spangle the cheesecake wedge. Treat yourself, just as so many others have for 35 years. Delightful down to the last crumb of buttery graham cracker crust. $7.95.


50th Street Café
No discussion of comfort food would be complete without some old-time Southern fare. Breaded and deep-fried chicken steak submerged in smooth gravy whistles Dixie and sticks to your ribs. Prepare for a plate overflow: tender country-fried steak, a smooth white sausage gravy, warm buttery toast, tender-crisp hash browns and your choice of eggs. Get your eggs over-easy so they flow into the gravy like a rich stew. Soak up every last bit with the snappy toast and you’ll leave happily full. While comfort foods fill the menu here, the country-fried steak and eggs stand out as a true testimony to hearty sustenance. With all this food, all you’ll have room for is a cup of coffee. Good for breakfast, brunch or lunch, the chicken-fried steak will keep you going all day.