VENUE DETAILS

Meritage

Price:

Cuisine Type:

Serves:

Handicap Accessible:

No

Outdoor Seating:

Yes

Handicap Accessible:

No

Outdoor Seating:

Yes

REVIEW

Meritage doesn't bill itself as a seafood restaurant. But that's exactly what it is, plus a whole lot more. It just might be the best of its kind in the Midwest.

Here's the back story: The downtown St. Paul restaurant, which is just shy of its fourth birthday, is located off the glorious lobby of the equally glorious Hamm Building, and when an adjacent storefront became available last year, co-owners Russell and Desta Klein wisely snapped it up. The much-needed elbow room was transformed into an oyster bar outfitted in the same style as the urbane dining room, and voila: What had been a French restaurant with a flair for seafood has become a French-accented seafood fanatic's destination. And a fantastic one, at that.

What this diner appreciates most about chef Russell Klein's work, along with his faith in downtown St. Paul, is how he skillfully finds parity between classic and contemporary, formal and casual. That culinary balancing act is best viewed through the prism of lobster -- specifically, Klein's approach to it -- because anyone who loves lobster will adore Meritage.

Purists can enjoy it steamed and chilled, wrestling it to submission while it's still in the shell. Classicists will fall all over how Klein adds just enough gelatin to a decadent lobster consommé, fills it with generous chunks of tender poached lobster, then tops it with a sweet corn purée, a flavor marriage that can only be described as celestial. It's the epitome of excess, in a gleefully good way, and when that gossamer gelée comes in contact with your tongue, it melts back into consommé, a marvelous sleight-of-hand.

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Where:

Meritage
410 St. Peter St.
St. Paul, MN
651-222-5670

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