For our first night out after Annie’s arrival Erin wanted to try Meritage (rhymes with “heritage”) in Saint Paul, for something a little more upscale.
I stupidly drove past the last open metered parking spot and had to end up parking in the Lawson ramp for $7 instead of free. Not a good start. I was surprised at how large Meritage was, I had walked by it a couple times and didn’t realize it’s size. The restaurant is beautiful with high ceilings, soft lighting, and the sound of a full restaurant is not overwhelming as you can still have a normal conversation amidst all the people and servers.
Erin was already at the table as I had dropped her off before my parking mishap. I joined her and started the process of deciding what to drink. They have a huge wine list but I don’t appreciate wine enough to pay the restaurant prices. I went with my half vodka, half gin martini while Erin was talked into a $17 glass of wine. Ouch. Separate checks? No, bummer :)
The menu at Meritage is filled with enticing options including the moules frites, composition of winter squash, roasted loin of venison au poivre, and a cassoulet. After some deliberation I went with the cassoulet, even though it just sounded like fancy chili. We got frites with bearnaise sauce as an appetizer, which was humongous and delicious. Also, the fries were hot and fresh, just like I like them (and as they should be, for $7.50).
The cassoulet was an excellent choice. It IS like fancy chili, but it comes with garlic sausage, pork, and duck confit, so it’s a little richer than my chili at home. It comes in a gigantic bowl that I could have easily kept half of, but it was more fun to indulge to excess and soak up some of the martini.
Erin insisted on ordering dessert and got the chocolate mousse. With desserts there is always plenty to share so I had a couple bites. It was good, but I would have been just as happy with Jello pudding, so I guess that says something about me more than Meritage :)
It was great to get out of the house with Erin for the first time, but it was getting late (8pm) and we were both ready to go to bed, such is life with a newborn, so we headed home.
3 weeks after Annie was born, we decided to take up my sister-in-law on her repeated requests to babysit! It's great to have family and friends who actually WANT to babysit - who knows how long that will continue, so we will take them up on it as often as possible for now!
I had really missed going out to nice restaurants and ordering wine while pregnant, so that is why I chose Meritage for our first night out post-baby - and it turned out to be an excellent choice! After being home with a baby pretty much constantly for the past 3 weeks, it felt a little weird to be out amongst adults. Weird in a very good way though :)
We arrived on time for our reservation, and I was immediately seated by the host (who had a thick French accent) at a fairly small table - Meritage isn't a huge place, and many of the tables are pretty close together - the table setting did feel a bit crowded, but not too bad. They have a coat check, which does help.
The server came around and asked what we wanted to drink, and as soon as I mentioned it was our first night out after having a baby, she of course recommended that I get what was by far the most expensive glass of wine on the menu - I figured just this once I'd go for it instead of having the awkward interchange of asking for something less expensive. It WAS very good, but I just really don't have a sophisticated enough palate to know the difference between a $17 glass of wine and a $9 one. Oh well!
To go with my "elegant" glass of wine (as the server kept calling it), I decided to order the duck. I kind of wanted the moules frites, but it seemed like it didn't go as well with the wine (which I know I shouldn't care about, but whatever). Since we decided to get frites as an appetizer, the duck seemed like a good choice.
I was very impressed with the duck - it was delicious! The meat was cooked to medium and the sauce it came with complimented the flavor of the meat perfectly. Since the frites were kind of a heavier appetizer, I was glad that the sides for the duck were a little lighter and included some real veggies :) Ben's cassoulet was also excellent - it looked like it could be bland but it was very flavorful! The bread that came out before the meal was fine, but would have been better if it was warm.
Since I really don't know how often we'll get to go out to nice restaurants now, I figured I'd better go all out and get dessert too - I went with the chocolate mousse which was perfect - very rich but I was still able to gobble up pretty much the whole thing with just a little help from Ben!
We both really enjoyed Meritage - it was the perfect location for our first night out!
- Service: Service was very good - I especially was pleased with the frequent water refills! The only issue was the server immediately suggesting the most expensive glass of wine when I asked for a recommendation - this is always annoying to me. I feel like she should have at least given a few options.
- Food: The food was outstanding.
- Drinks: Very extensive wine list and a full bar.
- Ambiance: The tables are a bit close together, but overall this is a beautiful restaurant and had a nice din to it without being too loud.
- Price: Fairly reasonable - some things are pretty expensive but for the quality of food it is right in line with other restaurants like this.
- Convenience: If there is no event going on, downtown St. Paul is typically dead on nights and weekends, but with an event parking can be difficult.
410 St. Peter St.