22 December 2015

Adieu to Vincent: A Restaurant

I don’t think I’ve ever purposely gone to a restaurant knowing that it was about to go out of business. I certainly never have written a blog post about one. But today I couldn’t help myself. I had to have one last visit to Vincent on the Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis. The restaurant’s last day of business is Dec. 31. I went there for lunch.

I have been to Vincent several times in the past. My wife and I have celebrated special occasions there. Once, I was the guest of honor at a dinner hosted by the person who was my current boss and three former bosses to commemorate my 35th anniversary of working at Land O’Lakes. (Here’s the post I wrote about that experience.)

It also was a great place for business entertaining. I’ve commented before that my favorite restaurant in the Twin Cities is Meritage in St. Paul. Like Vincent, it features French food. But the ambiance at Meritage is more casual bistro. The dining room at Vincent was big and open with tall ceilings and tables nicely spaced so that you felt comfortable talking business over dinner. That would be difficult at Meritage where the guests are kept cozily close, encouraging interaction (but not so conducive to private conversation).

Our Star Tribune food writer, Rich Nelson, in eulogizing Vincent (sorry for the melodrama) has lamented that that beautiful space will be transformed into a Caribou Coffee/Einstein Bros. Bagel shop. Somehow, I can’t imagine coming into the shop on a late evening to find the conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra munching a bagel and sipping coffee after a concert at Orchestra Hall across the street. (That happened one time when we dined at Vincent.)

So, what to have at my last meal at Vincent? I thought about ordering a burger. I must admit that I’ve never had Vincent’s burger, despite receiving nearly universal acclaim as one of the city’s best. (Here’s Rick Nelson’s tear-stained tribute to the burger.) To be honest, I’m not big on burgers at nice restaurants. Seems like kind of a waste. And besides that, apparently chef Vincent Francoual will be moving on to become Culinary Director of Cara Irish Pubs, and perhaps his famous burger will show up on the menus of The Local, The Liffey, Cooper, or Kieran’s.

I also considered ordering steak frites. A classic French dish like that would have been fitting.

Instead, I opted for red wine braised beef short ribs with risotto. Here’s the photo. It was delicious. So was the baguette served with a pot of creamy butter. I confess, I ate all four pieces in the basket and nearly finished the pot of butter. I also had a glass of red wine, a blend of tannat and cabernet Franc by French vintner Madiran, Chateau de Viella 2011. That’s going on my list to try to find at local wine shops. And I splurged by ordering dessert. I wish tarte tatin had been an option. Instead, I had a walnut tart with caramel sauce and caramel ice cream. And an espresso.

So, au revoir Vincent. Thanks for the great meals.

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