As the host of the annual Oysterfest, Meritage has established itself as a locus of culinary delights. But half shells aren’t even the half of it. This downtown St. Paul gem is a Swiss army knife of restaurants: Fancy brunch to wow the in-laws is a no-brainer, impressive dinner with the bosses is a done deal, and happy hour with that frugal friend is a happy proposition indeed. (Make sure your pal sees the glorious pile of French fries with Béarnaise sauce available for a fiver.) Gastronomes who have already explored the brasserie’s classic French offerings should consider the nightly tasting menu with wine pairings for something a little more special, or reserve a duck for the truly unique Duck a la Presse experience. Though it’s not the traditional preparation that originated in France (we can’t strangle the duck to preserve its blood here in the U. S. of A.), the dish is as close as you’ll get in town, complete with a tableside press that squeezes all the juice out of the bird to make a savory sauce. Add “dinner and a show” to the list of Meritage’s tricks.
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