02 May 2009

KwikPicks: A business lunch at Meritage, St. Paul

I met a colleague in St. Paul for lunch at Meritage. It reconfirmed my opinion that this is one of the best restaurants in the Twin Cities.

Food: 5
Service: 4
Ambiance: 4
Value: 4

The relaxed bistro décor that was so appealing for our evening dinner in March is equally as appealing during the bright light of day. The sunlight shown through the big windows looking out onto St. Peter St. The midday traffic bustled by outside, and enjoyed the view of Landmark Center out the window.

It was Kentucky Derby weekend, and Daryn wanted a mint julep. Our server was a little hesitant. She’d never made one before. But she said she’d give it a try. She got the mint muddled with the sugar right, but Daryn said an authentic mint julep should be served over crushed ice. She surprised him, however, by floating a small amount of rum on top of the cocktail. Daryn said that explained the sweetness he tasted. It’s a variation he’d never had before.

I decided to have a glass of their luncheon wines. They were very reasonably priced. I had a Macon Charnay for $6. (If I read the menu correctly, the same wine at dinner is $10 for a glass.)
Prices for lunch seem very reasonable. I had the plat du jour – sautéd sole with herbed couscous for $13. The sole was topped with a basil sauce. I don’t think it was pesto because it didn’t have much garlic and it didn’t appear to have pine nuts or parmesan.

Daryn had steak frites. The menu offers a choice between a four ounce or eight ounce steak. Daryn had the small steak, and it seemed ample. He asked for it to be cooked medium, and it came out more on the medium rare side, but he said it was fine. The pomme frites were crisp and salty. I thought they were better than the side order that we had with our dinner on our first visit.

One of the things that I enjoyed on our first visit was the ‘amusements’ – small samples of appetizers or desserts for $3. We didn’t have an appetizer. But I ordered a dessert amusement – matzo Nutella sandwich. It consisted of Nutella spread between snack-size matzo crackers. Daryn’s dessert was profiteroles. He said they were great.

So in my book (or I guess actually my blog), Meritage is two-for-two and is a winner for both lunch and dinner. I highly recommend it.

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