Good news, St. Paul, you’re about to get a lot more authentically French.
I just got off the phone with chef Russell Klein, owner of Meritage, one of the best restaurants in the Twin Cities, and he tells me that his restaurant is about to expand into the space between Meritage and Great Waters (the soon-to-be-former stationery store) and add: A bar! A bar. An authentic brasserie bar. They’ll also add kitchen space and another 20-some patio seats. When? Hopefully before Thanksgiving. Klein tells me they take possession of the space September 1 and hope to open November 12th or so. This new bar will transform Meritage in important ways. Let me count them!
1) An added authentic oyster bar: Oysters, clams, periwinkles, and seafood towers.
2) French beer on tap: 1664, for starters.
3) All day and late night service! The new bar will be open all afternoon, and likely till midnight weekdays and one o’clock in the morning weekends, and will be serving food from the bar menu the whole time. Who says the sidewalks roll up in St. Paul at night? If you find someone who says this you may, next fall, be able to take them out for moules frites at 11 o’clock at night. Take that, people who say the sidewalks of St. Paul roll up at night!
4) Better drinking for Wild fans: Did you know that Meritage offers free valet parking to those with Wild tickets (or Ordway season-tickets), with the purchase of two entrees? True. This deal will also hold for the bar, and Wild fans will be able to get entrees in the bar, along with absinthe, Champagne cocktails, and other French tipples. Yes, I said you can drink absinthe before heading to a Wild game. It’s like Montreal up in here!
5) Better drinking, generally: Klein tells me they have hired away a bar manager from Minneapolis creative cocktail temple Bradstreet Craftshouse, so expect a whole raft of super-fancy drinking to be made available to St. Paulites. There will even be a happy hour!
6) Better smoking: Klein tells me he plans on adding a smoker to his kitchen, so will be smoking his own salmon, and possibly oysters as well. What are chef-made fresh smoked oysters like? No one knows. But we will!