Meritage, St. Paul
A bright, sunny space in the historic Hamm Building, Meritage evokes a Parisian brasserie with just-baked baguettes on display and a chalkboard with handwritten specials. Start with one of the $3 “Amusements,” like the deliciously salty mussel soup served in a small white espresso cup, or the tiny tuna tartar taco, an innovative twist on sushi. The daily omelette special at lunchtime is always a good bet, as is the steak frites. Full-size desserts are perfect for sharing, but you’ll have no problem polishing off one of the $3 treats like the espresso mousse or locally made Legacy chocolate truffle.
Tip: Meritage relieves the stress of finding parking and rushing through dinner before a show at the nearby Ordway Center for Performing Arts or the Park Square Theatre. Valet your car with the restaurant ($8), eat dinner, attend your event, then return to Meritage for cheese or dessert before picking up your car.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.