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Where to take some visiting Food Snobs?

My uncle and family are coming in from California this weekend. He is a self- confirmed food snob and requests "good dining." his preference would be French, and he would like some good Foie Gras.

We would prefer St Paul, as we are in the eastern suburbs, but will drive to Minneapolis (anywhere not too far off 94).

I'm not sure how the French scene here is- so if any type cuisine would be considered- as long as it would meet my Uncle's high standards!

Thank you!

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    1. Meritage. I can think of no other.

      1. You might try Vincent on NIcollet Mall. They have foie gras on the menu. I haven't eaten there in a while, but had great experiences when I did.

        1. I think you would be surprised of the food here- La Belle Vie or Meritage for french.

          If not french- Piccolo would be a nice seat.
          If that is out of your price range, then Alma, 112 Eatery, Sanctuary (people might gasp when I say that).

          1. Not Sanctuary (count me among the gaspers).

            Ditto Meritage and La Belle Vie. Ditto Piccolo. Sticking around St. Paul, I'd also suggest i Nonni. For Minneapolis, Alma.

            1. Meritage is more of a French bistro in ambiance and style of food. La Belle Vie is definitely more fine dining and I think might appeal more given your description of your uncle. I don't really know/have an opinion on Foie Gras as I don't eat it, generally speaking. The only I I've had it was at The Strip Club, I thought it was wonderful. But I have no frame of reference! I do like the idea of having foie gras from Au Bon Canard.

              Personally, I prefer Meritage but I am 1) much more of a casual person and 2) probably not in the majority of the population in this opinion!

              La Belle Vie not far off of 94 at all, maybe less than a block!

              Alma is my favorite restaurant in the Twin Cities so I'm never not going to recommend it. If you can get in on a Saturday that's when Alex Roberts is in the kitchen, but the food is wonderful all the time. Just extra fun to have the Chef in the house. Lots of local produce and meat is the star, nice presentation, not crazy fancy in terms of ambiance, more industrial decor. Great service. (Service is very very very good at La Belle Vie and just fine at Meritage)

              1. I suggest you take him to the Gopher Bar and let George deal with his snobbery. And then you can take him to the ER at United to get the hockey stick removed from his pipes.

                If that won't work for you, the places mentioned above, Vincent, Alma, La Belle Vie, Piccolo, are all very good.

                1 Reply
                1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                  THIS! Well, no, not really. But a great idea from JG

                2. Thanks all! Another family member has now vetoed ALL French suggestions- he "doesn't do" French. (Even though he is 26 years old, rarely left this state, and I'm sure hasn't eaten anything pricier than Olive Garden since he left his dads house... Have I mentioned how much I LOVE his family?...)
                  I suggested Heartland to give to give Cali folks a Minnesotan experience- but one of the Aunts is lobbying for Murray's in Minneapolis. Sigh.

                  So now what's a girl to do? Any thoughts on Heartland vs Murray's? I do realize that's like comparing apples and oranges... But...

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: Kunzieo

                    My budget has room to dine at Murray's only on a milestone like a 30th wedding anniversary, so I wouldn't put others on the spot for that kind of expense.

                    If you get through the visit without kicking every one of your relatives in the shins, you will have earned your place in the annals of family hosting. I raise a glass to you, Kunzieo.

                    1. re: Kunzieo

                      Go there early, before 6 and Murray's is worth it. Cheap wine and a $23 meal. Otherwise I think that Sea Salt would be a true Minnesota experience.....Travel a little and Victory44 fits the bill....

                      1. re: ibew292

                        Really? Good tip about Murray's before 6pm -- I never knew that!

                      2. re: Kunzieo

                        In days of yore, large family restaurant situations made me angry.

                        When someone says "I want this" knowing full well that there are a dozen or more other people, it's the height of selfish. I tend to tell people where we are going because if I ask for input, it inevitably devolves into something like your current French stand-off.

                        How about heading to Bayport for BBQ? Everyone loves BBQ. And if they don't, screw 'em. Or better yet, if the dinner party is comprised of your husband's family, let him work it out.

                        1. re: Kunzieo

                          Based on everything here, I would actually still suggest Meritage. There style is fairly French, but they have a decent amount of more "American" food as well. They make a really awesome hamburger that the "anti-French" person could eat (or roast chicken), they have steak (for the person that wants to go to Murray's), they have fois gras (for the visiting uncle) and most everything I have had there has been excellent.

                            1. re: LauraB

                              I agree-- as opposed to Vincent, which fairly oozes Frenchiness (whether that's a good or bad thing, depends on one's prejudices), Meritage just feels like a nice restaurant. And the burger is fantastic, as are the fries. There's just about something for everyone there, but the person who WANTED the French experience won't likely be disappointed either.

                              1. re: mtullius

                                Don't discount the Vincent burger!!!

                                1. re: mtullius

                                  I actually think Vincent would still be a great choice, for the same reasons that Meritage would still be a great choice--excellent burger (and fries!), great French options, as I recall they have a nice hangar steak and roast chicken, and some fantastic fish, sandwich, and salad options. Plus they have an ice cream with chocolate sauce dessert that is great and could not possibly be hated by even the most anti-French.

                              2. re: Kunzieo

                                Tavern on Grand. A walleye sandwich. And then just say this is as good as it gets in Minnesota. From what you've said so far you are never going to win. ;)

                                1. re: Davydd

                                  Tavern of Grand come on . Lost their luster many years ago. Don't embarrass Minnesota by taking someone there.

                              3. Take them to Heidi's. They will not be disappointed.

                                1. I totally agree about Meritage. I recently went there for an anniversary dinner and there was nothing I didn't love--food, service, ambiance--it was excellent.

                                  1. Hi all- here's the last chapter of the story!
                                    We did end up at Heartland, as the anti-French guy also is anti-Seafood, and the Cali folks were still looking for Minnesota Food.

                                    It ended up being a great choice. The atmosphere was perfect, we had a large table at the window overlooking the Farmer's Market, and service was great. The California folks were suitably impressed, and raved over the bottled wine prices.

                                    The food was terrific- everybody was ecstatic with their food- except me. I had the Gnocchi and the texture/flavor was great but the portion size was more like a half-portion. I was still a little hungry after eating it all and licking the plate... Which made me a little sad but then I got to eat off of everyone else's plates :)
                                    Everyone else had only good things to say about the food and their servings!

                                    Thank you all for your suggestions (on restaurants and on how to tell the family where to get off...)
                                    Now we don't have to do this again for about 3 years, as his family only rarely comes to town. Hooray!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Kunzieo

                                      "and raved over the bottled wine prices"

                                      Heartland's wine list is indeed priced well.