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Meh-ritage

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Brad Ballinger Apr 23, 2014 04:43 PM

It's only one data point, and I have always enjoyed dining at Meritage. But on a recent visit, it seemed some shortcuts or conveniences were taken for the sake of the kitchen, at the expense of the customer.

Sat in theoyster bar. Started with some raw oysters. The accompaniments included a cruet of mignonette, the red wine vinegar, shallot, and ground pepper sauce. Usually it is served with a spoon. The cruet cuts down on prep time (just treat it like the parm and crushed red pepper in a pizzeria). But there is no way any shallots are getting through the tiny hole.

Next we ordered a flatbread. It was appetizer size, and we knew that (small). All the more reason, then, that a 1-1.5 inch perimeter devoid of any toppings whatsoever was just plain sloppy.

We then split a Lyonnaise salad. To our server's credit, she asked if we would like an egg on each half (yes, thank you for asking). The yolk was perfectly done, but the white appeared undercooked. I mentioned this to the server who told me that since the eggs are poached in the shell (in an immersion circulator), that's why they look that way. I replied that they look thet way hecause the white is undercooked, and asked for a new portion.

Maybe the launching of Brasserie Zentral caused some distraction, and inattention to detail, and I'm glad BZ is getting good press. But another experience like this will decrease the frequency of my visits to Meritage.

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    JimGrinsfelder RE: Brad Ballinger Apr 23, 2014 09:23 PM

    Were the oysters clean or gritty?

    I've enjoyed the oysters at Meritage's bar, but most everything else has been as you describe it...meh. Not bad, but not great either.
    n hill.

    1. ibew292 RE: Brad Ballinger Apr 24, 2014 05:32 AM

      Say it aint so. I loved that place. Hope it gets better...

      3 Replies
      1. re: ibew292
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        SmartCookie RE: ibew292 Apr 24, 2014 06:07 AM

        How many times have you been there and loved the experience? Just one mediocre (not horrible) time and you blast it on the web? Doesn't seem fair.

        1. re: SmartCookie
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          foreverhungry RE: SmartCookie Apr 24, 2014 06:40 PM

          BB's wasn't a "blast". It was an experience. That's what this is about, isn't it? BB. Said that he/she always enjoyed their experience at Meritage, and this was their latest, which was different than previous. Isn't that what this board is about?

          1. re: foreverhungry
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            dalewest RE: foreverhungry Apr 24, 2014 08:10 PM

            I agree that BB's post is one of the reasons this board exists. If we can't say we didn't like something we used to like a lot, what's the point?

            I have been to Meritage at least several times and always like it. I am not surprised that opening the new store in Minneapolis might be sapping some of their attention. Its great to have a report in advance about this in order to temper expectations. Hopefully only a temporary problem ...

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        Brad Ballinger RE: Brad Ballinger Apr 24, 2014 11:18 AM

        About 10 times total. If you re-read my first sentence, you will notice that I've always enjoyed it. And I will visit again. I have also recommended the place too many times to count (on the web).

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          Brad Ballinger RE: Brad Ballinger Apr 24, 2014 11:18 AM

          Clean.

          1. LiaM RE: Brad Ballinger Apr 26, 2014 02:12 PM

            I've generally found that eggs poached in an immersion circulator have that more gelatinous quality to the white and I think it's true that they are cooked, just a different (and not very pleasing, IMO) texture results from the different method.

            I am confused by your comment on the flatbread. Was it described as having toppings and then didn't?

            In any case, I was at Meritage a couple months ago, had the brandade, the seafood platter, fries, and dessert macarons, and everything was lovely. Sorry your experience was not so great.

            1 Reply
            1. re: LiaM
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              Brad Ballinger RE: LiaM Apr 27, 2014 09:21 AM

              I can live with gelatinous, but the whites were also very fragile (easily falling apart). The flatbread had topings bunched together in the center of a rectangular base. It was cut into six pieces. The four corner pieces had one mouthful of toppings and all the rest crust--like the toppings were quickly thrown on the flatbread base with no care given to spreading them out whatsoever.

              I've had many lovely experiences at Meritage, and will probably have more. My post was to comment on what appear to be shortcuts, and lack of attention to detail. Sucj quality lapses are not that uncommon when the owners pursue a new venture (Brasserie Zentral). I assume both places will function at high quality over the long term.

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              zfwp RE: Brad Ballinger Apr 27, 2014 12:07 PM

              I think that meritage operates in a rather non-competitive environment (downtown saint paul). so I conclude that their excellence ( I am a fan) is mainly due to the devotion of its management. when they are stretched by opening a new restaurant I can imagine difficulties. on the other hand they will soon have a much larger, and from what I have seen in Minneapolis a very skilled, staff to draw upon..... so? maybe you should wait a bit before you go back to meritage...

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                Seige RE: Brad Ballinger May 1, 2014 10:52 AM

                Hubster and I went to Brasserie Zentral on Saturday night (it was divine, btw) and saw Chef Klein in the kitchen. As a lover of Meritage, I mentioned this exact same concern. 1) I hope Meritage doesn't go down the hill with Chef not there more regularly and 2) I hope Brasserie Zentral doesn't go down hill once Chef isn't there regularly. It's a slippery slope to take on so much. Hopefully once BZ is running smoothly everything will even out.

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