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Meritage (Saint Paul, Minnesota)

I was a huge fan of Chef Klein when he was at WA Frost. Hearing that he opened a new restaurant, I was very interested in checking it out. Lets just say that I had the best bone in ribeye steak in years. It was perfectly cooked with a nice char on the outside and cook a perfect medium rare and juicy on the inside. I mentioned to the chef at one point that he should add it to the regular menu (it is the Saturday special). He said that surpisingly few people order it. For appetizers we had gnochi and scallops. The gnochi was served with a pesto, very tasty. The scallops were very non tradtional but yummy. I also had the pumpkin soup that was really different but wonderful. The cheese plate for dessert really blew me away. I was just singing the praises of the cheeses at Heidi's, well this was even better. Great selections. The only letdown was the dessert soufflee. It was chilled (Grand Marnier ) I highly recommend people go and do try the ribeye on Sat. It was a mind blower.

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  1. I'm glad to hear of another good experience at Meritage. I had a service snafu at lunch during their opening days (as related in this post about Meritage: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/459242) but folks seem to generally be having good experiences there.

    410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

      1. re: kelangell

        Dinner entree prices were $16-33. Their entire menu is on their web site. Easiest way to get to it is to click on the places link above right.

      2. We had dinner at Meritage last night. Wow. We went out to have a blowout dinner on a lovely, snow covered winter night and this place couldn't have been more perfect. Now it didn't hurt that we started with a great bottle of wine and that just set the mood. But this place seems to so get it. The service was genuine and warm. The setting was the same. It doesn't feel like it just opened, it seemed like it has been there quite a long time. That view with the park across the street with skating and those white lights!! Anyway, we started with the gnocchi which were so tiny but so packed with such flavor. We fought over every last one!!! I had the striped bass in a harissa, rock shrimp lobster scotch sauce. Oh my, so good. Great texture on the fish, great flavor. My DH had the venison which seemed to be the dish coming out of the kitchen last night. Once again, wonderful (I stole a few bites). Then the wonderful cheese tray and man come around. How sweet is that guy!! We had already ordered dessert but could not pass up the cheeses. Don't pass it up is what I say. We tried 3 and they were all wonderful. Then our dessert came which was a warm hazelnut cake with a salted caramel ice cream. Once again, wonderful. Great coffee too! I just can't say enough about this place. I'm hoping we just didn't hit it on an "on" night or that the wine altered our opinion. But, I'm happy to say I don't think so. It's such a great space. Cozy, warm and comfortable. The service from the host and hostess, to our waiter and the cute young man that plops a new piece of bread on your plate every time you finish one was top notch. Chef Klein walked around to every table to see how our dinners were. Very nice touch & a very nice man. We always say we'll go back to these places but some how always keep searching for a new place to try. We will go back to Meritage though and soon. I wanted to try everything on the menu!! I'm so glad St. Paul has this great new restaurant. What a perfect night! Janice

        1. I was considering Meritage for a nice holiday date with my GF. Is it a good atmosphere for that?

          1 Reply
          1. re: foley

            Foley, I think it would be a beautiful place for a holiday date. It was so beautiful with the snow outside and the view of the park with the white lights. Plus the restaurant was cozy but did have a great energy at the same time. I would see if you could get a corner table as it's more like a booth and would be more intimate. We were right inside the door to the left and we had a wonderfully romantic, beautiful evening and meal. Of course the bottle of wine didn't hurt either. Go for it, I hope you like it as much as we did. I can't wait to go back. Janice

          2. We had a wonderful experience last night at Meritage. It is the perfect French Bistro and we talked with all the servers and diners at the table next to us. We found the entire experience to be just what we wanted. The food was fabulous, we started with the escargot and a tiny tuna tartar taco,then added the pomme frites. Our main course was the rack of lamb and the duck breast. We finished the dinning experience with a cheese course and port, that was out of this world. Chef Klein and his wife were very gracious and made us feel at home. Our server Morgan was fabulous and recommended a great bottle of wine that paired perfectly with our dinners. Then to complete our meal Ross recommended the best sample of cheeses I have ever had. By the way, I love cheese and have fairly educated palate. We thoroughly enjoyed the evening and are planning our next evening out at Mertiage. We would like to thank the Kleins, Morgan and Ross for a great evening and we are very excited to have a your Bistro in St. Paul.

            6 Replies
            1. re: davejenrud

              We went to Meritage last night to celebrate my husband's birthday. It was a fabulous meal and if we could afford it, we'd be eating there every night!

              The atmosphere was lovely and very old St. Paul (I hear it hasn't changed much from when it was Au Rebours), with my only complaint being that it can get a bit noisy when the room is full.

              We each started with an "amusement": oyster-bloody mary shooter for him and tiny tuna tartare taco for me. Both delicious and made us joke that we'd come back some time and ask for 10 of both for dinner. Next, we shared the marinated scallop appetizer. It was incredibly fresh and tasty, with just the right amount of Meyer lemon and apple.

              For the main course I had the trio of pork and my husband had the ribeye steak frites. The pork was heavenly--pork cheek, tenderloin, and rib. The braised apples and leeks were a nice complement. My husband very much enjoyed the steak (and the bearnaise sauce--what doesn't taste good with bearnaise?).

              We shared the warm chocolate hazelnut cake with the salty caramel ice cream for dessert. Loved it, especially the ice cream. It was mentioned on the dessert menu that one could order ice cream from Izzy's so I'm assuming the ice cream was from there. I'm hoping so, so that I can go to Izzy's and get some more some time.

              Service was generally pretty good. We had to wait a bit for our table when we arrived, which always annoys me, but the wait turned out to be very short. Other than that, there was a nice flow to the evening.

              We live downtown St. Paul and always like to see a good restaurant succeed in this rather challenging area. (A bit off topic, but what really annoys me as a downtown resident is that some skyways are closed at night and entrance to certain buildings with skyway access is closed. While I can appreciate the security issues, it can make it a logistical challenge for downtown residents to go out in the winter.) I'm glad Meritage is so good and I'm crossing my fingers for them!

              1. re: Dasha

                Oh yeah, the Salted Caramel Ice Cream is an Izzy's legend - just do a search on this board. You may wish to get put on their e-mail list to have them notify you when the flavor is in (has anyone tried this, and does it work?), because it seems like there have been many frustrations on this board in regards to Izzy's not ever having some of the most beloved flavors in stock at the moment you may have a hankering for them. Sorry for hijacking the thread, please turn your attentions back to Meritage now. Thanks.

                1. re: autmommy

                  RE: Izzy's. I was told it's a phone list, and I signed up about four-five months ago to be notified if they ever have salted caramel in and have never received a phone call. I don't know if that's because they've not had any salted caramel or if they forgot to put me on the list or if they just haven't bothered to call. Boo.


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Perhaps we should start a "We want Salted Caramel" protest outside of Izzy's! I wish they sold it at Kowalski's, instead of the rather boring flavors they do sell.

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      It's not just you TDQ, I signed up back in August and watched them put my name down. But they have never called ... This time of year I crave peppermint ice cream, though, and Grand Ole Creamery has a great candy-cane flavor, but the name is escaping me.

                      1. re: jaycooke

                        I work in the Hamm building where Meritage is located. After reading this thread I had to try the ice cream. Needless to say it is quite delicious.

                        The funny thing is that at first taste it reminded me of pistachio pudding by Jell-O but then it becomes so much more. Funny how the artificial flavor of pistachio would be anything like salted caramel.

              2. My girlfriend and I went to Meritage last Friday and I have to say I wasn't impressed. I will say the food was better than the service. We were seated for over 20mins before our waitress showed up for the first time.

                We started with the escargot which I found delicious and my girlfriend found she wasn't a fan of. The main courses were mushroom crusted venison loin and the roasted wild striped bass. The venison was very good, what you'd expect from Chef Klein, the striped bass however was unimpressive. The problem was in the rock shrimp and lobster - scotch sauce. It completely over powered the flavor of the striped bass. A case where to many favors on the plate ruined main coarse.

                8 Replies
                1. re: schi0246

                  My husband and I tried Meritage last Friday night and had a really good experience. Service was good, and we were seated promptly. We tried two of the little amuse starters: a duck liver pate and a beef in pastry thing. Both were very good. The French Onion soup was absolutely excellent, a great illustration of the difference between restaurant and home cooking. I can make a good soup at home but I am not going to take 2 days to reduce and concentrate the flavors like they did. The marinated scallops dish was very nice and clean flavored, but I would almost expect it on a more summery menu. Our two entrees were the duck 2 ways (sausage and breast with red cabbage and spatezel) and the mahi mahi. We enjoyed both of them, the duck being satisfying without being too heavy and the fish was elegant and light. After reading the reviews of dessert, and after never having luck going to Izzy's the right day, we had to try the chocolate cake with the salted caramel ice cream. All you salted caramel fanatics have a new member to your group, that stuff is amazing! In fact, we ordered another scoop of it to have on the side. So, all and all, a very good experience and one we hope to experience again soon.

                  1. re: dahlsk

                    We went to Meritage last night for the second time. The place was PACKED, no doubt thanks to the recent Strib review. It can get a bit noisy in there, but it's kind of a fun noisy, if that makes sense. And as a Lowertown resident, it does my heart good to see a downtown St. Paul restaurant succeed. Service was great, seemed tighter than our first visit.

                    Once again, we had an excellent meal. We began with a few of the amuses--tuna tartare taco, beef strudel (truly delicious), and oyster shooter for my husband. Next, we split the beet salad. I can't believe beets get such a bad rap, they're so delicious and the salad was a nice mix of red and gold beets, greens, goat cheese and caraway. It made my Eastern European heart glad. For main courses, I had the short ribs and my husband had the bass. I loved the short ribs and ate every bite. My husband thought the bass was good but not outstanding. He's not the biggest cauliflower fan on the planet and he thought the plate could use some color.

                    If you read Jeremy Iggers' review you probably saw that you can buy Izzy's salted caramel ice cream BY THE PINT at Meritage. WOO HOO! We were a bit too full for dessert but bought the ice cream and ate some at home later. I had to hide the leftovers in the freezer from my husband. That ice cream is sooooo goooood, completely worth the hype. It's funny how it's become such a cult favorite. Everyone was talking about the ice cream around us--our waitress was rhapsodizing about it, the bread guy was going on about how much he loves it, even Desta Klein came by to chat about the ice cream. My life would be complete if Izzy's would make the salted caramel for retail sales, but then would it seem so special?

                    1. re: Dasha

                      I tried the beef strudel and almost cried because it was so good. I feel the same way about the gnocchi. I wish their frites were crispier, but am in love with this place in general.

                      1. re: Dasha

                        Wow, reading your post is giving me deja vu - i too dined at meritage saturday and we basically ordered the exact same thing. We were equally surprised to see it packed but as you noted it was a pleasant packed and not cramped or uncomfortably loud.

                        I had the bass and, unlike your husband, thought it was pretty much transcendent. As a california resident and pescatarian, i eat a fair amount of fish and i have to say this was one of the more memorable pieces ive eaten in the last year (at least). Perfect crisped skin with delightfully moist center, really approaching perfection. Admittedly, i am a cauliflower lover, but even my cauliflower-phobic girlfriend claimed to enjoy her shared taste.

                        She ordered the short ribs (i told you your post gave me deja vu, right) which were outstanding - i could have eaten a quart of the perfectly seasoned, delightfully airy mashed potatoes that came with them.

                        We split the beet salad and gnocchi to start both of which were just spot on. delicious and very much crave-worthy. my girlfriend suggested after the gnocchi arrived that we cancel our main orders and just ask them to bring us all the gnocchi they had left in the house. yeah, that good.

                        Unlike you, dasha, we managed to save room (who am i kidding, MAKE room) for desert. The apple tart frangipane with izzy's salted caramel is as one would expect it to be given everything else we had just eaten, which is to say just about perfect. Intensely buttery crust with great apple flavor and not overly sweet an awesome end to a fantastic meal.

                        Overall the service was very good, in an authentic french accent kind of way. The room is really nice in a not overly pretentious sort of sense and the food was just great - i woke up several times in the night thinking of how good several different parts of our meal were. Not surprised to see it packed on a saturday, if they keep it up it should stay that way, which will be just alright by me.

                        1. re: tex.s.toast

                          Too funny tex.s.toast! What time were you there? We had an 8:30 pm reservation. We should have just pushed our tables together!

                          Now I'm regretting not saving room for dessert... Oh well, there's always next time (and I'll order the gnocci next time, if it's still on the menu).

                          1. re: Dasha

                            We went to Meritage on Saturday night. I was so excited and wanted to love this place so much but we weren't that impressed which makes me sad. First off, they were packed but the service was not great. It was 25 minutes before our order was taken. We had the tuna tartar taco and the mushroom ganache - which were very yummy! I would go back for those. We also split some pomme frites which were right up there with Barbettes in my opinion. Then more service issues - after the appetizers we ordered another glass of wine to have with our entree. We got the wine but the entrees took so long that the wine was gone. I didn't really want another glass - but I didn't want dinner without the wine.

                            I know - it is probably my own fault and I should have let my glass sit there until the entree's showed up but I didn't think it would be that long.

                            Entrees were disappointing. I had the bass and it was a little fishy and not great. I have had a lot of striped bass and this was not up to the usual quality I have had. My SO had the scallop entree. I liked it more then he did - he thought the scallops were a little over-seared but I liked them. Either way - neither of us was super happy with the entrees. That made me sad.

                            Then - the kicker - the freezer had broken the night before and all the ice cream had melted! I was so looking forward to dessert with the salted carmel ice cream - but alas. I had the apple tart without the ice cream. It wasn't as apple-y as I wanted. Wow, I am picky. SO had the hazelnut dessert which he loved.

                            Overall - underwhelming but I had giant sized expectations. I would go back for the atmosphere and a bunch of amusements and pomme frites and maybe really get the ice cream this time.

                            1. re: maureen73

                              Too bad about your experience, but i would strongly recommend another go (perhaps at a time they were less likely to be slammed)

                              also, if you'll read my review about, and others, the apps and mid courses were really stellar, and would perhaps be worth another visit if only for the gnocchi and/or beet salad.

                              1. re: maureen73


                                Almost all restaurants push the wine out fast hoping that you'll buy a second (or in my case third or fourth) glass. When I really only want one glass, I ask them not to bring it until the entree comes out.

                    2. We went this weekend and had an amazing dinner with great service. I had been in the past but Chowspouse had not yet been.

                      Chowspouse ordered and enjoyed the parisian gnocci & the halibut. Both were amazing!

                      I had the tiny tuna tartare taco and the olives, the short ribs with the whipped potatoes. Excellent all around. I think I could have eaten 50 of the tuna tacos. Excellent taste, size and execution.

                      For desert we had a ice cream and chocolate layered cake & the vanilla pot de creme.

                      Wow - the ice cream was izzy's salted carmel. Do I really need to say more.

                      And the service was top notch. Excitement about the food and wine, no snobby attitude and just a generally nice person. The hostess also checked on us and you can feel the pride they all have for the place and the food.

                      I'm glad St Paul has something to enjoy. I look forward to our return visits!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: St Paul Susie

                        mmmm.... tiny tuna tartare taco.... try to say that ten times fast.... now try to do that without the drool drippng out of your mouth. Tough, isn't it?

                        1. re: cheeseguysgirl

                          I've been dreaming of those since last weekend

                          they are truly perfect