410 St. Peter Street
St. Paul, MN
This weekend, we celebrated with Jake’s family at Meritage. Jake’s brother Gabe, a Marine, is able to spend some time at home before his second tour to Afghanistan.
Jake and I have been to Meritage on several occasions and were excited to join rest of the family on their inaugural visit. To begin, a staff member carefully served each person bread with tongs and provided butter molded in little dishes. The bread’s crust was chewy without being mouth-cutting sharp and the inside was moist. The butter was also a spreadable temperature. This simple bread and butter service showed a lot of thought.
We also shared a variety of appetizers.
Since we were seated at the other end of the table as the appetizer orderer, I was surprised by the arrival of escargot. I have only tried escargot once, back in high school, on a class extra credit field trip to Pierre’s Bistro. Snails give me the willies. I have a fuzzy recollection that this aversion may stem from a childhood nightmare that involved a giant, blue snail with wiggly antennas. The snail texture was tender and it tasted like the garlic butter sauce, with a mineraly finish.
This salad included silky slices of cured salmon and long, translucent strips of cucumber. Its vinaigrette tasted of mustard.
The boys weren’t a huge fan of this Terrine of Minnesota Foie Gras with brioche and sauternes gelee. Jake kept describing the foie gras as “meat ice cream” and thought the top fat layer tasted strongly. I was more than happy to relieve most of the family of the burden of eating the terrine. I liked its silky texture, salty and savory flavor and did not find it to be any gamier than Spoonriver’s pate (my first love), their delicious Duck Shmear amusant, and the pate at Heartland.
By the time this Main Lobster in Gelee appetizer reached our end of the table, it was lobsterless. However, we were happy to try the remaining lobster consume and sweet corn puree. I did not enjoy the leftover sauces which tasted kind of bland and creamy-sweet.
On the other hand, Jake enjoyed the subtle oceanic flavor and finished the glass.
In between appetizers and entrees, a few of us snuck away from the festivities to order absinthe.
Per usual, Jake ordered the mussels and frites. They were the typical smokey, bacony, briny deliciousness we have come to love. The moules et frites comes with plenty of smoky, grilled bread and you can bet that Jake soaked up every last drop of the broth. This evening, we received less broth than usual so we will try ordering extra broth on a future visit.
I challenge you can find me a better version of moules et frites.
Crispy. Not greasy. Salty. Great when dipped in the tangy Bearnaise sauce, but even better when dipped into the mussel broth. Better than Barbette.
I ordered the seared tuna. It was “crusted in herbs de provence” and garnished with “tomato marmalade, braised escarole, fried capers, haricot verts, black olive oil and crushed potatoes.”
The large portion of tuna was well-seasoned, lightly seared, and silky inside. The fish tasted especially good when eaten with the jammy sweet, tomato and salty black olive and fried capers. The haricot verts were cooked al dente and I could not get enough of the braised escarole. The crushed fingerling potatoes provided a crispy texture. It was obvious that the chefs seasoned and tasted every layer and component of this dish. One of the best renditions of seared tuna I have tasted.
I tried small bites of my dining companions’ tender and moist duck that came with a bitter arugula sauce, and a juicy, well-seasoned pork chop.
For dessert, I shared a cheese plate that included pungent sheep, nutty cow, and creamy goat cheeses garnished with walnuts, microgreens, and a touch of honey.
As usual, a delicious and satisfying experience.
A thank you to the Flaas and Andersons.