The classy option: Meritage wows

By Amy Ledig

I can’t think of a better way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon than brunch at Meritage. Now, it’s not for everybody or every occasion. You have to schlep yourself to downtown St. Paul, so there’s not the instant gratification of walking over to Café Mac or Coffee News. You need to be looking, if not dressed up, at least presentable. But if you want a decadently delicious foodie brunch, or you had a particularly trashy weekend and feel like you need to up the class quotient, Meritage should definitely be on your shortlist. The space is modeled after a Parisienne bistro, with a high ceiling, mirrors, and wall of windows onto Saint Peter Street that make the space feel open and airy, while the dark wood tables, paneling and chairs add an element of understated elegance. The restaurant is just a block up from the Saint Paul Hotel, along a triangle of park space and buildings that makes me forget I’m in St. Paul and feel like I’m in a real place.

I’ve been there on several occasions, and while dinner was good, their brunch is truly excellent. Every time I go I expect it to be more expensive than it winds up being; for such an upscale joint, prices are pretty reasonable, and I don’t even want to think about what it would cost back on the East Coast. There is a nice assortment of both breakfast and lunch items, as well as a mix of sweet and savory. The lunch portion of Steak Frites is great, as is the Croque Madame. However, I would turn down the sandwich, one of my favorites, for the Eggs Benedict every time, hands down. The eggs on mine were perfectly poached, with the optimal egg to ham to muffin proportions, the brunch potatoes are nice and crispy, and the slices of pineapple on the side provide the perfect acidic counterpoint to the rich hollandaise sauce – a steal at $11.

Should you find yourself in need of a chic, Continental breakfast at an affordable price point, get yourself down to St. Paul. The blood orange prosecco mimosa and tiny, warm beignets are calling your name.

Meritage is at 410 Saint Paul Street, St Paul. Brunch starts at 11 a.m. Tues. – Fri., and 10 a.m. Sat. and Sun.