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Feb 9, 2010 05:25 PM

Jfood visits Vincent A Restaurant - Not to his liking

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. 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. 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. Jfood:

        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).

        7 Replies
        1. re: bob s

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

          1. re: jfood

            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

              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

                1. re: sandylc

                  I looked at the on-line menu a few times over the past visits and nothing really jumped out. The current one looks great with the duck and the beef. Maybe next trip.

                  1. re: jfood

                    I've eaten there dozens of times over the past 30 years and at least half of these times I've not thought the menu had anything exciting; then I've chosen anyway and generally been thrilled in spite of myself.

                    1. re: sandylc


                      Well that's good to know and thanks

        2. 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 Reply
          1. re: Brad Ballinger

            He says he didn't like the frites. Every time I've had them there they've been amazing...?

          2. 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 Reply
            1. re: kevin47

              If I recall correctly, it's a roasted red pepper aioli.