15 February 2012

Another Valentine’s Day dinner at Meritage, St. Paul

How many times is a blogger allowed to write about the same subject? This is my fourth post about Meritage in St. Paul. I’ve written about a dinner with friends, a lunch, and I even wrote about another Valentine’s Day dinner there (in 2010). But it is my favorite restaurant, so here goes again.Meritage

I liked the table they gave us. It was in a corner. Not really private, but some of the other tables are set pretty close to each other, and this gave us just a little more room. (I think the best tables in the restaurant are along the window looking out onto the sidewalk and Rice Park and Landmark Center. Very cosmopolitan.)

The food was excellent again. They had a Valentine’s Day tasting menu. I thought it looked good, but my wife wasn’t too thrilled by a couple of the items, and they said that everyone at the table had to order the tasting menu. Besides, it was $75; probably worth it, but a little pricey.

So I started with a smoked salmon rillette, one of the $3 amusements at the top of the menu. It was fantastic – rich, smooth, with a nice smoky flavor, spread on a crisp bite of toast. I also had a salad of Bibb lettuce and radicchio. The flavors were excellent, and it was served with a nice light dressing. For my entrée I had the evening specialty, which was braised short ribs. I thought they were very good. The meat was fork tender. But I thought the short ribs that I made for Thanksgiving this year were better.

My wife started with French onion soup. That was excellent, hot and oniony with lots of flavorful melted cheese. For her entrée, she ordered the duck breast. While it was served slightly too rare for her, I thought it was fabulous, and it would have been a better choice for my meal.

So the food was up to par and met my expectations. Unfortunately, there were two glitches that were disappointing and frustrating. First, the service was spotty. After we were seated for a while, our server rushed by and promised he’d be with us in just a minute. But it actually was several minutes. Then he had a little bit of an attitude about the wine my wife ordered. “Drinkable, but nothing special.” Seems like there should be a more diplomatic way of expressing your opinion about a house wine without being so condescending.

The second problem was not the restaurant’s fault, but it was frustrating nonetheless. A party of four was seated at the table next to us, and one of the group was wearing a very strong scented perfume. It was really very unpleasant and annoying. If our tables had been squeezed closer together, as some of them are at Meritage, I’m not sure if the odor would have been tolerable.

So 5 stars for creative menu, excellent food and enjoyable ambiance. But 3 stars this time for service, and an unfortunate asterisks to denote the overwhelming perfume odor.


Next I got a salad. It also very good – fresh and creative with a nice light dressing.

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