Hydrangea Kitchen puts a spin on typical cafe

Molly Abraham
The Detroit News

Hydrangea Kitchen has a surprise in store. Beyond the sandwiches and salads expected of a little cafe with blue and white antique tables and chairs and a collection of china plates on the wall, there’s a definite Hispanic spin to the menu, including housemade chipotle salsa that shakes up the taste buds. In fact, the entire menu has a creative spin reflecting the talents of the chef/proprietor of the 30-seat restaurant.

Megan Villareal Kasprzycki was influenced by her Spanish grandfather and also by years spent in California and Texas before she and her family returned to their home base in Michigan. Her love for the cuisine flourished, and in 2011 she took over a spot that had been a Coney Island. Megan, who has an associate degree in culinary arts from Macomb Community College, offers from-scratch cooking across the board.

Remarkably, she does all of the cooking herself, with just two helpers to take orders and serve and clear the tables.

Hydrangea Kitchen, named for her mother’s favorite flower, is directly across the street from Grosse Pointe South High School, so it has become the unofficial food provider for the kids who stream over for their quick lunches. They arrive in two spurts, one at 10:45 and the other just about 20 minutes later. There is a special menu for them, and some email their orders to get a jump on things. After the high schoolers depart, adult patrons arrive for such dishes as classic tomato basil soup and J.L Hudson Maurice salads.

But there is much more, including an array of burgers on ciabbatta buns, a nice upgrade from hamburger buns. One of the burger choices is the taco burger, the beef patty sparked with taco spices, avocado, a dollop of the fiery chipotle salsa tamed-down with some Thousand Island dressing, and it is accompanied by a small portion of fresh fruit. The untamed salsa comes with quesadillas and burritos on flour tortillas, with a milder tomato-based version also available.

In addition to her street tacos, burritos and quesadillas, other house specialties include terrific Belgian fries, twice-fried hand-cut potatoes with fresh rosemary, chipotle and curry aioli. All dressings are house made, notably the Maurice salad dressing made from the original J.L Hudson Company recipe, and the creamy Caesar variety.

The breakfast menu is available all day, and includes another surprise, a runners breakfast, with such dishes as egg white vegetable omelet and French toast made with multigrain bread, inspired by her father, who has run seven marathons.

Megan is not the only chef in the family. Brother Justin, the chef at The Dearborn in Chicago, has a degree from the Culinary Institute of America, brother Ryan is the general manager of Restaurant 701 in Washington. Third sibling Jordan Villareal is in the wine business in L.A.

They are surely proud of their sister, who has elevated the cuisine in her little corner of the world.

Hydrangea Kitchen

371 Fisher, Grosse Pointe

Call: (313) 469-9970

Rating:★★ 1/2

Hours: 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.

Prices: Breakfast dishes $4.25-$8.95, soups $3.95-$4.95, salads $8.95, burgers $8.95, sandwiches $7.95, quesadillas, tacos and burritos $6-$8.95

Credit cards: All major

Liquor: No

Noise level: Low

Parking: Street

Wheelchair access: No barriers

What the ratings mean

★ — routine ★★ — good ★★ 1/2 — very good

★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding