I have a soft spot for French food, especially when it consists of raw oysters on the half shell, escargots and duck breast.
Enter Meritage in Saint Paul, one of the top French restaurants in Minneapolis serving authentic and locally sourced French cuisine. Chef Russel Klein hails from New York and was recently acknowledged as a semi-finalist in the James Beard nomination process.
I dined here while in town for work and both my colleague and I enjoyed ourselves immensely.
We started off our meal with a chef’s sampling of raw oysters sourced from the East to the West coast.
I’ve heard that Minneapolis is one of the first stops for shellfish being shipped around the world which explains how the seafood I’ve had in the Twin Cities is consistently excellent. The oysters I ate here were no exception, particularly when accompanied with a splash of their house made mignionette.
The Escargots Bourguignon arrived next and featured perfectly cooked, unbelievably tender snails. I initially planned to only eat only one but proceeded to eat half of the dish, then sopped up the pools of parsley-garlic butter with all the bread in sight. Delicious!
I was undecided between the Glazed Wild Acres Duck Breast and the Steak Frites, but quickly chose duck the after my waiter attested to it being his favourite dish on the entire menu.
The duck was perfectly cooked, meticulously glazed and accompanied with cherries, apples and brussel sprouts. The dish was a delicate balance of sweet and umami flavours and transported me to food heaven.
The visit to the ladies room afforded me a walk past the glorious lobby of the Hamm Building– an architectural beauty!
I returned to the table in time to sample our desserts: a Chocolate Panna Cotta and an Espresso Pot de Creme. The texture of the panna cotta was closer to that of a chocolate mousse but the espresso pot de creme was spot on and the perfect sweet ending to an incredible meal in a classy, Parisienne atmosphere with impeccable service.
I will definitely return and sit at their oyster bar so I can gorge myself on more sweet and briny bivalves. And perhaps order the duck breast on the side. 🙂
My suggested menu picks for the kids: Meritage House Hamburger, Croque Madame/Monsieur (from the Lunch/Brunch menu), Crispy All-Natural Half Chicken, and of course, Pommes Frites!
410 Saint Peter St.
Saint Paul, Minnesota