MSP - Meritage, St. Paul
I didn't see a standalone thread for Meritage and didn't want to add random tidbits to an old thread.
First off...lamb bacon...wow.
I also had it with the sweet corn custard amuse. As standalone tastes, they were outstanding, but were even better in combination.
Frankly, everything was great -- gnocchi, the burger (although I still would get it without the shallots), the fries and the chocolate tart with Izzy's salted caramel ice cream.
Nice meal for two, lively flavors, a good cocktail and right around $50 total. I'll take it.
We finally made it to Meritage last night and while I'd give the food an A, the service and space was more like a D. First, I think the entrance at the side of the restaurant, 5' away from where people are eating dinner, is horrible. The diners at that table closest to the door finished as we arrived and I was quite prepared to say that I would not sit at that table. Luckily we were brought to a table more in the interior of the restaurant, but my husband's chair was essentially in an aisle and I was squeezed in behind someone who knocked me over when he pushed back his chair to leave. Overall the seating is way too tight and several times our server had to step away from our table to allow others to get by.
We arrived, were seated, and proceeded to wait for at least 5 minutes for anyone to come to our table. When someone finally did, she filled our waters and then left without saying a word. We assumed this woman was the busboy and we were still waiting for our server. Another 5 minutes pass, this woman returns and asks us if we'd like a drink. Again, no introduction, so we still assume she's the busboy and is filling our drink order while our server was busy. Finally, 10 minutes later our drinks they arrive, and we realize this woman is actually our server. She was sweet and soft spoken, and did walk us through the menu when we finally told her we were ready to order, but the lack of any sort of welcome or introduction set the relationship off on a strange foot. I will say I think the table next to ours had expressed their frustration with the slow service and she seemed a bit thrown off trying to make it up to them. Unfortunately, throughout the night the service continued to be slow and imprecise. Our entrees came several minutes before the drinks we had explicitly ordered to go with our entrees (our previous drinks were finished and bussed), and our cookies arrived several minutes before our cheese course, which we had ordered previous to ordering the cookies. We were beginning to wonder if our server didn't remember that we had ordered cheese. Overall not the experience we would expect at one of the top restaurants in the city. Not that I expected the service to be on par with somewhere like La Belle Vie, but I could probably name 30 restaurants in the cities where we've gotten more personal and detail oriented service.
The delicious food was the only thing that kept the night from being a disaster. To start we ordered a few oysters, the tuna taco, oyster shooter, and duck rillette bites. While the tuna was a bit bland, the others were absolutely fantastic. I wish I could order a gallon of their homemade cocktail sauce - delicate and spicy. For entrees my husband got the cassoulet and I the short rib special. The cassoulet was fantastic - on par with what we've had in France. The short ribs were very good, although needed a bit more seasoning. I did really appreciate the orange zest on the plate which especially went well with the sauteed greens. We ended the meal with 3 cheeses and madeliene cookies.
Overall I'm not sure I would return in light of the space and service problems, unless I had a real craving for exceptional cassoulet.
La Belle Vie
510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405
410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102
I am sorry to hear you had a lousy experience with the service there. This certainly has never been the case during the three times I've been there. Maybe an off night. It has been one of our favorites for awhile. I agree with you on the cassoulet. Wow it is fantastic, the best I've had in the states.
Bumping this thread to note that Meritage's annual Morel Fest is tomorrow night, Sunday, May 23rd. Five courses, plus optional wine flight. I don't know if any seats are still available, but if you're interested, give them a call. According to Rachel Hutton's blurb, looks like some of what I'll be enjoying includes Lobster Mousse-Morel Beignet, Buttermilk Poached Wild Acres Pheasant stuffed with Morels and Iowa Lamb Loin en Sous Vide.
410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102
Had a great meal at Meritage last Friday night and the place was packed. Started the night with the lamb bacon, ox tail strudel and gnocchi. Both amusements were worth every bite (and calorie), but I’d say that I enjoyed the strudel just a bit more. I love the contrasting textures of the light, flaky strudel, coupled with the “sweet” oxtail meat. Yum! There was barely enough gnocchi for the 4 of us. Their style of gnocchi is so light, a welcome change from some of the heavier potato gnocchi I’ve had. My entrée was the Friday Plat du jour, Shrimp and Crab Risotto. The risotto also had corn and zucchini. It was nice, but the flavors were not as exciting as my SO’s dish. I convinced him not to order the risotto so we could taste each other’s meals. He reluctantly agreed and ordered the rack of lamb. The flavor of this dish was amazing. It was such a flavorful and harmonious dish. The tastes really came alive in your mouth. Wow, I can’t say enough about this dish. My SO’s father had the hanger steak with the fries. He enjoyed his steak, but agreed that the lamb was a much better dish.
Went to dinner at Meritage yesterday...this was our first time and the only thing I can say is WOW!!! It was one of our most memorable dinners in the twin cities.
We started things off with lamb bacon and house marinated olives. Both of these were great, especially the lamb bacon.
Then came the entrees;
I had the duck breast - this was phenomenal. It was nice and crispy on the outside and moist inside. It was served with some swiss chard and apricots. Overall the dish had perfect balance.
My wife had a burger - the burger was as good as a burger can be. But the fries were out of this world....simply the best we've had in town.
For desert we had some dark chocolate izzy pops with salted caramel ice cream. This was a perfect finish to the evening (ok this was not really the end to the evening as we went to Izzy's and go some ice cream to go :).
Service - this is where I think they simply went above and beyond. Our server was very knowledgeable without being pushy. He answered our questions truthfully as well (he actually pointed out couple of entrees where he thought could use some improvement). Chef Klein came to our table and asked how everything was tasting and so was the manager. My wife's burger was a little underdone the first time she got it so we had to send it back...no big deal. However, the management made it a point to apologize personally and deduct the charge for the burger from our bill.
Overall we felt like we were well taken care of and couldn't say anything negative about the food either.
We will definitely be making another trip over to Meritage in the near future.
I too had the lamb bacon and corn custard amuse the last time I went, and agree with you. They were great.
Meritage is an absolute favorite, for the food, location, ambiance. It manages to feel both relaxed and special at the same time. I chose it for my Mother's Day brunch with my daughter, last one before she headed off to college. For dinner with a friend in from out of town. For dinner or long relaxed breakfasts with friends IN town. For good, reasonably priced lunches. Birthday celebrations.
And for all their special events. Several months back they began Recession Sundays, $24 prix fix every Sunday evening. This summer they put on Le Tour de France, featuring food and drink of different French regions every Thursday.
If you're not already on their mailing list, I recommend signing up. That way you'll get advance notice of those events, and most especially you'll have a shot at securing a seat for their annual Morel Fest. It was early June this year, with the chef from the old Bayport Cookery.
I've only been disappointed once at Meritage, with the Scottish salmon en sous vide with artichokes and preserved lemon. It was more salty than I like, and I'm a salt lover. I wondered if that was customer error though--I knew what "en sous vide" was, but had never eaten anything prepared that way. Should I have expected that, given the prep plus preserved lemon?
My one experience at Meritage was ruined by excessive salt. I ordered the gnocchi and asked for 'no extra salt', my standard mode since I abhor tasting salt sprinkled on things- I don't mind if it's part of a sauce in a correct amount. Anyway, the gnocchi came sprinkled with salt. I told the server and she took it back, then brought me another plate of gnocchi with...salt sprinkled on it. At that point I gave up on the gnocchi and ordered some of their recommended matzo ball soup. Too salty.
I don't think you should have expected the salmon to be salty just because it was done sous vide-isn't that cooking very slowly in saran wrap (a strange concept I must say), unless it was smoked salmon in which case it is usually pretty salty.
I've been impressed with Meritage every time I've been there; both food and service have been constantly great for us over the past few years. Their pork rillette is probably one of my favorite dishes I've had since moving to MN.
I know that if they were on my side of the river I'd be there much more regularly.