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Which is better French: La Belle Vie or Vincent's? Please weigh in...

Hello,

Hubby and I can't afford to go to France for our 30th wedding anniversary, but we're going to pretend for a long weekend: staying at a 4 star French-owned hotel (Sofitel), going out to the theater (Guthrie), and having a romantic dinner, pulling out all the stops, at a French restaurant. This will be a big deal to we Country Mice, and a hit to our modest budget, so we don't want to make a mistake! We want to have a wonderful time and wonderful memories....

So...I can't tell which restaurant to choose. Both seem to be in the Tops in the Twins category, but we're looking for the *best* food first, then atmosphere and charm. We also would appreciate feeling welcome and not snootified because we're aforementioned Country Mice. Your opinions--or suggestions of an alternative--greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

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La Belle Vie
510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

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  1. I haven't been to either. An alternative would be Meritage in St. Paul. Here is my 2,000+ word review:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7199...

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    Meritage
    410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

    1 Reply
    1. re: semanticantics

      I agree, I'd nominate Meritage.

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      Meritage
      410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

    2. Vincent is a fine bistro quality French Restaurant. La Belle vie is levels above. Both are good in their own right but La Belle Vie is one of the top two or three restaurants in the TC.

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      La Belle Vie
      510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

      1. Both are really great restaurants, but I think if you're looking for something that seems really classically French, Vincent will be a better fit. Not that you wouldn't have a great meal at La Belle Vie, I'd be surprised if you didn't, but I think it might be easier to pretend you're in France at Vincent.

        Meritage is a good suggestion, but if this is on the same night as the Guthrie show, Vincent might be easier logistically.

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        La Belle Vie
        510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

        Meritage
        410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

        1. La Belle Vie, hands down. It's the best restaurant in the city in my opinion. One tip: if you decide to go there, book a table in the bar- in particular, one of the back corner booths. The dining room is very... grand. You can get the full menu in the bar and it's just a more interesting space.
          Plus they make fantastic cocktails.

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          La Belle Vie
          510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

          1 Reply
          1. re: meljohns

            This is what I was going to say about La Belle Vie. Dining room is large space and quite grand- harder to feel like you are having an intimate dinner. We had a wedding anniversary dinner there and felt kind of awed and lost in the room, it's my only quibble with LBV. But I've heard lovely things about the bar. The one time we went the service was impeccable (as it pretty darn well should be). Honestly, with the passing of the years, and all the champagne we drank before dinner...I'm not sure I remember much about the food. It was good, I know that. I just don't remember any specifics.

            I've also celebrated a wedding anniversary at Vincent's ... oddly enough. We had a lovely time and they treated us very well, made us feel special. I feel like the food is not quite as high-falutin' French as LBV, and has some more Italian/Mediterranean influence, which I happen to appreciate.

            Have not been to Meritage for an anniversary, but it is one of our very favorite restaurants in the Twin Cities. More of a French Bistro atmosphere, which is different yet again from LBV and Vincent's. And they feature local meats and produce, which makes us very happy (my husband no longer eats meat that has not been sustainable raised and I try to limit my consumption of factory-farmed meat, which would mean that probably both Vincent's & LBV would be hard for us now). And the amusements that Meritage feature are worth the entire visit!!!

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            La Belle Vie
            510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

            Meritage
            410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

          2. Ha! I had a faux Vegas weekend http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4140... a few years ago, but a France weekend sounds so much more fun.

            I think Vincent is the way to go if you really want the French feel, though, technically, my understanding is that the staff was trained by French Canadians (ie., the folks from Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal) , not Continental French. Still, pretty French.

            However, I do want to mention re: La Belle Vie, which I do believe is really top notch (their chef won the James Beard award this year for Best Chef Midwest)--their hospitality is so gracious, I can't imagine they would ever make you feel like country mice. So, if you just want that super high-end kind of experience, I don't think you'd regret it. A 30th wedding anniversary is awfully special!

            Also, don't forget to tell the Sofitel and the restaurant you're celebrating your 30th anniversary when you make your reservations!

            I love, love, love room service breakfast at the Sofitel because they bring a basket of their glorious croissants with whatever you order. I haven't stayed at the Sofitel in Bloomington, though, but the croissants are one of their worldwide standards, so, you could check to see if they have it if that appeals to you at all. Once time I pre-ordered breakfast at a Sofitel for 7:30am or something like that. At about 7:15 hospitality called and asked if I could wait another 5-10 minutes for breakfast because the chef had a batch of croissants coming out of the oven and wanted to bring me warm ones if I could wait. They aren't the best croissants you'll have in your life, but nothing beats having them brought to your room. Of course, you can have the basket of croissants at breakfast in their dining room, too.

            If you're looking for casual (since you're doing a long weekend) for a different meal, Barbette might be fun for you, too. http://www.barbette.com/

            Another fun place for super casual lunch is Patrick's Cafe at Bachman's. Nothing on the caliber of La Belle Vie, Vincent or Meritage or even Barbette, but it's you're trying to have a multiple stops on your weekend, it's kind of fun to have lunch in the Bachman's greenhouse/garden. http://www.patricksbakerycafe.com/ I haven't done it this time of year. Hopefully it wouldn't be too hot and steamy.

            There's also newcomer Patisserie 46 French Bakery. I haven't been there yet, personally, but reports have been mixed. http://www.citypages.com/2010-07-28/r...

            Don't forget the cinema. http://www.afmsp.org/Events/Cin%C3%A9...

            Bon anniversaire!

            ~TDQ

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            La Belle Vie
            510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

            Meritage
            410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

            3 Replies
            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Minor correction: La Belle Vie won best chef in 2009. Alex Roberts of Restaurant Alma won the James Beard award for best midwest Chef in 2010.

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              Restaurant Alma
              528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

              La Belle Vie
              510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

              1. re: rp1760

                Oh my, you are so right! Apparently I've lost an entire year somewhere!

                ~TDQ

              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                Oh, thank you so much! All of you, actually!...but having someone help us expand our "fantasy" is especially appreciated. The last really good croissant I had was at the communal breakfast table of a $5 a night (the franc was cheap) Bohemian hotel on the West Bank, in 1976. That was, in fact the first and only time I've been to France, but the memories are still vivid. Glad to have my inclination to be *really* indulgent and do the Room Service Than authorized. ;-)

                I'm about to decide and I'll be sure to let everyone know how it goes.