The idea of a fine French restaurant in the Upper Midwest may require a suspension of disbelief. On the other hand, we are reminded that the French discovered and settled near the upper Mississippi and owned the west side of that great river until Thomas Jefferson purchased the land from Napoleon. So, celebrate the best of France at any of these great Minnesota restaurants.
410 Saint Peter St.
Saint Paul, MN 55145
Before immersing yourself in opera at the Ordway, try a little indulgence at the Meritage, but call early for reservations because this upscale restaurant fills up quickly. As an alternative, the 40-seat oyster bar is usually available after the show. This purveyor of the finest in French cuisine also has a very decent selection of wine by the glass, plus numerous exotic cocktails and Stella on tap. Try the fresh oysters. They have to be the best in the metro. Budget-conscious patrons go for the Saturday brunch or the Tuesday through Friday happy hour where they get the same fine food, gracious dining and beautiful view of Rice Park and Landmark Center.
112 N. 3rd St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Go to the Warehouse District for one of the best restaurants in Minneapolis. Only in the Midwest can you get five-star French cuisine by James Beard award-winning chef Isaac Becker at reasonable prices and reasonable quantity. The restaurant is small, so reserve your table early if you want comfortable dining. Otherwise, stop by later in the evening for the electric atmosphere created by the clientele drawn to this bistro every evening. The Eatery offers full kitchen service until closing.
1100 Nicollet Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Executive Chef and Owner Vincent Francoual has created quite a popular dining experience while introducing Americans to Gallic cuisine, notwithstanding the Vincent Burger (made like Minnesota’s Jucy Lucy) on the menu. “I love cooking the traditional French dishes,” says Farncoual, “but I am also very curious about exploring the culinary world. I really enjoy the ‘no rules’ aspect of American cuisine.” Whatever the fare, Vincent delivers consistent quality cuisine in a true bistro ambience.
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Salut Bar Americain
917 Grand Ave.
Saint Paul, MN 55105
5034 France Ave. S.
Edina, MN 55410
Taste a Julia Child dinner prepared just as she instructed each Monday. Catch this week’s selection on Chefs CJ Van Proodsy and Anthony Leonardi Facebook post. Salut is a locally owned, small European-style bistro serving up tasty Americanized French foods. The food consistently hits the target for the American palate but the dining experience is eminently distinguished by the first-rate ambience and customer-focused service.
1600 W. Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN 55408
This trendy restaurant features entertainment nightly. The eclectic menu has savory French fare such as oysters, mussels, roasted bone marrow, gnocchi, duck and crème brulee. Chef Sarah Master, a Minnesota native, is well schooled and broadly experienced in New Orleans’ French Quarter fare having begun her career at a small French-Caribbean restaurant in New Orleans.
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Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for Examiner.com, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at Examiner.com.