Brasserie Zentral

Meritage meets Minneapolis


You know what is not going to be the next hot cuisine? Austria-Hungary’s boiled beef shoulder and stuffed cabbage rolls. But St. Paul’s charming Meritage has found success hewing more to tradition than trends, so its owners’ new Brasserie Zentral, in downtown Minneapolis, may do the same, as it marries comfort with elegance. It offers plenty of starch (cheese and nettle tortelloni) and meat (pork cheeks, turkey schnitzel), including an inspired pairing of rabbit and rock-shrimp-stuffed pasta dressed with fava beans, asparagus, and prunes. On the singular foie gras menu, hedonists can go for the whole lobe ($200, serves 8-10), dabblers the rhubarb-graced appetizer. Zentral’s dining room can’t match the magic of Meritage’s history-rich, Parisian movie set, but it does replicate the expert service. A Zentral comment card—“Let us know who you are so that we may show you our hospitality”—suggests a culture that takes hosting more seriously than we often resign ourselves to expect.