Christmas week was definitely enjoyable, though fatiguing for an introvert like myself. Plus, I caught a cold. This visit was especially stressful since we saved a lot of our Christmas shopping for Christmas Eve day.
On Christmas Eve, we managed to lock ourselves out of the house while the rest of the family was away. This was the second time that week. Jake was annoyed and I burst into tears. I ranted about how Christmas seemed to morph into running around and buying stuff. Jake ranted about being locked out of the house. Eventually, we drove to a later service by ourselves which provided a much needed opportunity for quiet and reflection.
The sermon was thought provoking. I suppose the music provided some food for thought, as well. All of the Christmas carols were set to the 80’s and embellished with synthesizer sound effects. The songs fluctuated between David Bowie and Richard Cheese, the parody lounge singer. The worship band struggled to lead the congregation through Joy to the World, of which the melody was completely unique to the worship band. I don’t mean to sound like a scrooge, it just felt disorientating. O Come, O Come Emmanuel was quite literally punctuated with bow-chick-a-bow-wow’s and after the fifth one, we looked at each other and laughed. This helped to put the rocky afternoon behind us.
At the end of the week, we said our farewells. We headed towards The Elephant Walk in Stillwater, MN, stopping at Meritage
in downtown St. Paul, for moules frites.
We have loved Meritage’s moules frites, from first bite. It’s the only thing Jake ever orders and we’ve yet to find better. The mussels are always plump and there’s nary a closed one. It’s beyond me that restaurants charge customers for mussels by the pound, yet plate closed mussels. How hard is it to check? This doesn’t happen here.
The fries are every bit as good, if not better than Barbette’s. The smokey, winey broth entices us back. We usually fill up on the charred bread, leaving little room for frites. And the soggy slice on the bottom of the bowl is my favorite.
Fortunately, we arrived during happy hour (Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m.) which offers discounted food and beverages. Instead of chicken fingers and quesadillas, try $8 steak tartare and $5 duck confit pizza.
We shared this addictive bowl of warm, marinated olives, $5.
Then, there was the real, roasted bone marrow for only $5. I’d only seen Anthony Bourdain swoon over bone marrow on television but hadn’t encountered it in restaurants. Bourdain has mentioned that he’d choose bone marrow and parsley salad as his last meal and I have never forgotten this. Jake was just as curious.
Our wait was over.
The split bone arrived sizzling hot. It was served with toasted bread and sweet, shallot confit.
We gently scooped out the more solid bits and we ran the toasted bread through the golden drips.
It struck me like animal butter. Not so much the byproduct but the essence of. It tasted like the bits of chewy fat that line a steak. Rich in flavor with none of the gristle. Combined with the sweet, jammy onions, it was as satisfying as we hoped.
The dish regularly costs about $10.50 on the bar menu, but happy hour or not, it’s worth a taste.
Dear restaurants in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Fargo-Moorhead,
Please serve more bone marrow.
*I have conducted web searches for bone marrow at least twice and have not found a restaurant that offers this dish, straight up, on its menu. If you know of one, feel free to leave a comment below.