Date of Review
February 9, 2008
$20 and up
Our Total Bill:
Pepper: 3" acrylic/silver
|Renee's Side||Steve's Side|
Meritage is the kind of place that everybody seems to love, as evidence by the full house the entire time we there on Saturday night.
I too really loved it, it has a great atmosphere, bustling, but also welcoming, you feel as if someone who really is loving what they are doing is running the place.
The food was amazing every dish we had was on par with the best restaurants in town. The gnocchi rivaled the gnocchi at 112 Eatery (gasp!). The scallops while expensive were some of best I have had period. They were perfectly cooked seared on one side that created a crust that was slightly flavored with orange, but yet the rest of the scallop melted in your mouth. Perfect. The beef strudel and mushroom ganache were nice bites. And the dessert was an above average rendition of the warm chocolate cake, with an above average accompaniment of a scoop of salted caramel ice cream.
Even though this is one in a row of the best downtown St. Paul restaurants, I would say compared to the rest of them it holds its own and maybe even rises above.
I had high expectations for Russell Klein's restaurant, Mertiage. Meritage exceeded my expectations. One of the best parts of Meritage is that they have not made any compromises in food quality - they have not dumbed it down. Sure, the average newcomer to French food will be very happy with steak frites. But look at everything else on the menu and you realize they take food seriously.
The beef strudel and mushroom ganache were a good start. Each was well done. The beef strudel was a high quality stringy?, juicy beef wrapped in a crispy dough. The mushroom ganache was at the other end of the texture spectrum - a reconstructed mushroom pate. The gnocchi was perfectly cooked. The gnocchi was slightly crispy on the outside, then it melted in your mouth. Clearly someone in the kitchen knows what they're doing. I take that back, everyone in the kitchen knows what they're doing.
The duck breast was very good. I'll admit it was a bit of a test. I'm sure the steak would be good (my other option), but duck is ordered less often and harder to prepare properly. The duck was perfect, rare to medium rare, crispy on the outside. My only complaint is that the staff should automatically give a steak knife with duck. The accompanying spaetzle was buttery and delicious. The duck sausage was unique and absolutely brilliant.
I was also very happy with price and quality of dessert. It was a frozen souffle that was on top of caramel sauce. Each bit was a treat. Renee informed me that these are not hard to make and prepared ahead of time, but that's okay if the results are good.
One addendum to my review: Subsequent to writing the review, I was talking with some friends about Meritage and the cheese tray. On the night we went, the servers did not roll the cheese tray around for us, and we were disappointed that they did not offer the cheese tray. It turns out that may have been a mixed blessing. My friend told me that Meritage charges by the ounce for cheese, and she knows of someone who ordered about $40 worth of cheese. So, while it is apparently all great quality cheese, choose sparingly.
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