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Jfood visits Vincent A Restaurant - Not to his liking

jfood Feb 9, 2010 05:25 PM

Jfood was excited when he landed, saw the roads were cleared and he already had a reservation at Vincents’. After a long day, he drove downtown, parked and wandered over to 11th and Nicollet. He chose a high seat in the bar area and started to read the selections. He already knew the entrée was a burger but he was a little hungry and decided that a flatbread would be a nice start. Tonight’s selection included pulled pork, basil, olives and cheese. He asked for the hamburger prepared medium rare but the server told him that it bordered on medium well to melt the cheese inside, but it would come with a pinkish tint to the meat. As he waited he looked around. The bar area is very well done, high ceilings, a dozen seats at the bar, several high tables and a great looking table overlooking all of the activity.

While he waited he ate several slices of bread and butter. He really enjoyed the bread. Hopefully this was a precursor to the meal, but unfortunately he had just finished the evening’s high point.
The flatbread arrived. Jfood took his first bite and he was disappointed. The crust was not crispy at all and had very little, if any, flavor. The pulled pork was bland and flavorless, the olives were good and a bit salty, the basil was quit flavorful and the cheese was nice. The problem with the dish was that nothing worked together. It was just a mess of flavors thrown together.

But the hamburger was the main event and it finally arrived. It was served open faced with fries. The burger was on one side of the bun and the other half of the bun had chopped lettuce, tomato and raw onion. Jfood really hates raw onion, so the first thing he did was remove the onion. He stared at the tomato. They must have been stored in a very cold refrigerator and they were totally discolored and had that “almost frozen” and defrosted look. They came off the bun and joined the onion on the bread plate. Then he stared at the chopped lettuce. All he could think of was Subway. The lettuce was cut up like a Subway sandwich shop, huh? Jfood placed some of the ketchup (which came straight from the fridge in a very cold little ramekin) on the burger, flipped the lettuce and bun on top and took his first bite. The burger was way overcooked and there was a flavor Jfood could not place. He took bite number 2 and then it hit him like a bad dream. They used “Big Mac” sauce between the lettuce and the bun. It was disgusting. So Jfood had an incinerated burger, almost frozen tomatoes, chopped lettuce and Big Mac sauce. Nope he could not eat more than two bites. But at least he had some fries. The fries were not much better and then he hit the “hard one”, not for being overcooked but because it was a bad potato. And they were also flavorless and saltless. So Jfood decided to cut his losses and push the plate away.

The server returned and asked if everything was OK. Jfood told him that the burger was really bad and the server asked if he wanted something else. Jfood plays poker and knows when to fold ‘em. To the server’s credit he removed the burger from the bill and Jfood left him a nice tip.

So Jfood's experience at Vincent’s is memorable, but not in a positive sense. Too bad, Jfood was really looking forward to that burger.

Vincent A Restaurant
1100 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

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  1. b
    BigE RE: jfood Feb 10, 2010 07:22 AM

    I've never had the burger, but I've heard mixed reviews.

    My handful of experiences there (both lunch and dinner) have been quite pleasant.

    You should try it again, if only for the butternut squash soup. That stuff is heavenly.

    1. k
      kriminalrat RE: jfood Feb 10, 2010 01:21 PM

      The one burger I had there was good but didn't live up to the hype. Looks like you got a real dud. The one hamburger I always look forward to is the juicy lucy at Matt's.

      1. bob s RE: jfood Feb 10, 2010 02:42 PM


        I'm sorry you had a bad experience at Vincent, but I think that you probably mis-ordered to get the best experience. Vincent is a French restaurant. With all due respect (and I mean that) ordering a flatbread and a hamburger at Vincent is like ordering Chicken Parmesan at a seafood restaurant. They can probably do it, but it won't show off the place.

        I make no excuses for the Vincent burger. Because of the hype, I ordered it once but was not overly impressed. And it sounds like yours was especially miserable.

        But I'd recommend going back when you're in the mood for a "nicer" meal. I've found both food and service to be great at Vincent (and have enjoyed the Chef's table a few times).

        3 Replies
        1. re: bob s
          jfood RE: bob s Feb 10, 2010 03:01 PM

          jfood almost ordered the cassoulet, would that have been a better choice? How does it compare to meritage?

          1. re: jfood
            BigSal RE: jfood Feb 10, 2010 04:09 PM

            I prefer the cassoulet at both Meritage and Heartland to Vincent's. If I remember correctly, the portion was pretty hearty, even bigger than Meritage. That being said, I have had some nice meals at Vincent. I realy enjoy the Pan Seared Scallops as an appetizer and the three cremes dessert. The entrees I have had have been good, but I'd still choose Meritage over Vincent.

            1. re: BigSal
              jfood RE: BigSal Feb 10, 2010 06:31 PM

              Heck, jfood chooses Meritage over almost every place in MSP. The air is very thin at that level, maybe Alma, Heidis, BLG, not many others

        2. b
          Brad Ballinger RE: jfood Feb 11, 2010 06:17 AM

          Vincent's strong points: soup and fish. And frites. Stick to those. Cassoulet is okay. I've had the cassoulet at Meritage and was underwhelmed. HOWEVER, it was on the third night they were open, and I imagine it has improved since then given all the raves.

          1. k
            kevin47 RE: jfood Feb 11, 2010 02:53 PM

            I'll chime in to note that I quite liked the burger. I took the sauce to be an aioli, though I suppose that is what you could call the Big Mac sauce. That said, TSC, BDP and V44 all outflank it, in my view. I also liked the flat bread as a bar snack, though ours had substantially different toppings (brie and fruit IIRC).

            If you play poker, do you have a regular game in MSP?

            1. jfood RE: jfood Feb 12, 2010 10:48 AM

              did jfood's memory fail him on the restaurant for a good burger that begins with "V"?

              4 Replies
              1. re: jfood
                kevin47 RE: jfood Feb 12, 2010 03:37 PM

                No, the Vincent Burger has earned a lot of praise around these parts. By my lights, the braised short rib adds a nice meaty flavor, and the one I had was one of the best. I don't know how the V-44 burger fares these days with the new chef. He's making enough nifty stuff that I would hesitate to recommend you try it when you go.

                1. re: kevin47
                  faith RE: kevin47 Feb 12, 2010 09:34 PM

                  Personally I haven't been very excited about much I've had at Vincent. I did enjoy some very rich creamy cauliflower soup once. Had a bite of my friend's burger at Happy Hour once, I didn't love the smoky taste in it, didn't seem right for a burger. (smoked gouda in there?) I also have found very inferior grade winter type tomatoes in their nicoise, when they are charging enough to use some decent cherry tomatoes if necessary. Had the chickpea fries also, didn't find them appealing at all. The room is beautiful but something doesn't really add up for me about the food.

                  1. re: kevin47
                    soupkitten RE: kevin47 Feb 13, 2010 08:20 AM

                    i *just* had the v-44 burger (or 1/2 of one). very good, but not mind blowing, just a well-made burger.

                    1. re: soupkitten
                      Latinpig RE: soupkitten Feb 13, 2010 10:32 AM

                      Vincents is a fine establishment. In the winter their Casoullet is the best in town. I have never ordered a hamburger there. However, Vincent is more known for his French cuisine. You want a good burger, there are plenty of other places I would name first.

                2. m
                  mpls3206 RE: jfood Feb 15, 2010 03:17 AM

                  Each experience is unique and jfood summarizes his poor one at Vincent's. Although I agree with jfood tht the flatbread is nothing special I have had a number of good meals, including the burger, at Vincent's. My major disconnect with jfood is he requested a burger stuffed with gouda and shortrib meat 'medium rare'. The Vincent burger is a fancy 'juicy lucy'. These types of burgers are cooked past medium to melt the cheese. jfood can review mspmag.com site (keyword = burger) to get some better ideas for a good 'medium rare' burger in MSP.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: mpls3206
                    jfood RE: mpls3206 Feb 15, 2010 05:21 AM

                    Thanks M

                    Jfood knows the article and did a Burger Tour last year as a result. He also understand the JL med-well syndrome. Yup, he did order this one MR and the server immediately pointed out, as you did, that the cheese needed to melt and it would be served med-well but would "have a tinge of pink." But that was not the issue with the burger. It was incinerated, more well-well than med-well and the rest was sub-standard. There are much better burgers that jfood has eaten in your great city.

                    Thanks for the feedback

                    1. re: jfood
                      MSPD RE: jfood Feb 15, 2010 05:48 AM

                      I've been asking you this for the past 2 years -- have you had the burger at Good Day Cafe in Golden Valley yet? It's fairly convenient to your Edina/W. Bloomington area especially now that they are serving dinner (finally). I recommend med-rare, bacon and cheddar, and don't skip the fries.

                      I'm not sure I mentioned it on here, but my experience with the Vincent burger was awful as well. At the time, I was thinking it was the worst burger I've had in a long time and I think it still holds the title.

                      1. re: MSPD
                        scoopG RE: MSPD Feb 15, 2010 06:26 AM

                        Is GDC in Golden Valley connected to the one in St. Paul - and do they serve the same burger/fries?

                        1. re: scoopG
                          mtullius RE: scoopG Feb 15, 2010 07:08 AM

                          Are you perhaps thinking of the Day By Day Cafe in St. Paul? Definitely not connected, if so....

                        2. re: MSPD
                          jfood RE: MSPD Feb 15, 2010 07:28 AM

                          should have remembered this the other night after an exchange at Mall America. Anything would have been better than D Fongs

                          1. re: jfood
                            kevin47 RE: jfood Feb 16, 2010 10:16 AM

                            Ouch, yeah, you've got Sandy's Tavern, Kabob's and Joy's Thai for next time. Even Jun Bo would do in a pinch.

                            1. re: kevin47
                              jfood RE: kevin47 Feb 16, 2010 10:59 AM

                              Ouch does not even begin to describe it

                          2. re: MSPD
                            Jordan RE: MSPD Feb 15, 2010 04:37 PM

                            The GDC burger is pretty good, but I actually think their BLT with black pepper mayo is superior.

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