Meritage's pommes frites: 100 Favorite Dishes, No. 33

Meritage fries.jpg
Joy Summers
Hold the ketchup, pass the Bearnaise
Everything tastes better in French. Admit it. Would you rather eat mayo or aioli? A loaf of bread or a baguette? Velveeta or a little fromage? French fries or pommes frites? I rest my case.

For French cuisine in the Twin Cities, it's hard to beat Meritage, which was named Best French Restaurant by City Pages in 2010. For a quick, accessible and affordable way to see why, order the pommes frites, dip one of the delicate morsels into the side of sumptuous Bearnaise, close your eyes, and let your soul be whisked to a sidewalk cafe in gay Paris.

Meritage fries.jpg
Joy Summers
The element that lifts the pommes frites at Meritage from yummy to transcendental is the dipping sauce with which they're served. The fries themselves are lovely but comparable to those at other French restaurants in town, such as Barbette. Dipped in ketchup or ranch, they'd be just a slightly fancier version of your typical bar fare. But dip one in Meritage's Bearnaise sauce and they leap to a whole new level.

Bearnaise is a French sauce made with shallot, egg yolk, tarragon, and an unholy amount of butter. It is a close relative of Hollandaise, which uses lemon instead of tarragon. Impossibly rich, delicate, and nuanced, the sauce clings to the tip of each fry and elevates it from salty snack to a sublime indulgence.

The fries come in a paper-lined cone, the bottom of which you hope never to reach. But reach it you quickly will, as every hand at the table reaches for another fry and plunges them into the inviting yellow Bearnaise. Better just go ahead and order two.

Meritage
410 St. Peter St., St. Paul
651.222.5670
Meritage's website

Hungry for more? The dishes in our countdown thus far are linked below:


No. 34: Travail's Fried Chicken
No. 35: Hmong Village's stuffed chicken wings
No. 36: Cafe Maude's Now You Know
No. 37: Urban Eatery's Asian pork sliders
No. 38: Isles Bun & Coffee's puppy dog tails
No. 39: Surdyk's Flight's chicken báhn mì
No. 40: Sunny Side Up Cafe's Santa Fe Railroad French Toast
No. 41: Szechuan Spice's chicken with double chili pepper
No. 42: Dancing Ganesha's Chicken 65
No. 43: Bradstreet's Black Walnut Old Fashioned
No. 44: Wakame Bistro's Crazy Lobster Roll
No. 45: Brit's Pub Scotch Eggs
No. 46: Peninsula's chili tofu
No. 47: Annona Gourmet's balsamic vinegars
No. 48: Cocina del Barrio's jalapeño poppers
No. 49: Papa's Philly Cheesesteak
No. 50: Swede Hollow Cafe's caramel roll
No. 51: Thomasina's cashew brittle
No. 52: Patisserie 46's Rory Cake
No. 53: Il Gatto's Ravanelli
No. 54: Mandarin Kitchen's seafood and tofu hotpot
No. 55: The Inn's Polish Delight cocktail
No. 56: Gopher Bar's Coney Island dog
No. 57: Holy Land's hummus tahini
No. 58: The Sample Room's wild mushroom ragout on polenta
No. 59: On's Thai Kitchen Nam Thok
No. 60: Flamingo Restaurant's vegetarian combo
No. 61: Sea Change's Brioche Pain Perdu
No. 62: Haute Dish's "Steak & Eggs"
No. 63: Tremblay's Sweet Shop salt water taffy
No. 64: Bars Bakery's Turtle Bar
No. 65: Pizzeria Lola's Lady ZaZa Pizza
No. 66: In Season's fried oysters
No. 67: Cave Vin's steak frites
No. 68: Everest on Grand's cabbage and potatoes
No. 70: Surly Coffee Bender
No. 71: Quang's bun tom xao
No. 72: YoYo Donuts' maple bacon doughnut
No. 73: Cupcake's mini cupcakes
No. 74: Willy D's ribs
No. 75: Salsa a la Salsa's Fried Chocolate Truffles
No. 76: Anodyne's Artichoke Melt
No. 77: Origami's steamed duck
No. 78: B.T. McElrath's Salty Dog bar
No. 79: Mozza Mia's house-made limoncello
No. 80: Salty Tart Bakery's pastry cream-filled brioche
No. 81: Little Szechuan's bamboo tips with chili sauce
No. 82: Oceanaire's Jumbo Lump Crab Cake
No. 83: Aperitif's Nonni's Meatballs
No. 84: Christos's Saganaki
No. 85: Seven Stars' Sesame Bagel
No. 86: Hell's Kitchen Lemon Ricotta Hotcakes
No. 87: Blackbird banh mi
No. 88: Tank Goodness chocolate chip cookies
No. 89: Sole Cafe's gal bee
No. 90: Porter & Frye's El Pelon
No. 91: Coffee News' fish and chips
No. 92: Bread & Chocolate's Fabulous Fudge Bar
No. 93: People's Organic Panna Cotta
No. 94: Sea Salt Eatery Crawdad Po' Boy
No. 95: Fuji Ya's Tofu Don
No. 96: Ike's Food and Cocktails The Weekender Bloody Mary
No. 97: Punch's Toto pizza
No. 98: Stockholm Pie Company's peanut butter fudge cream pie
No. 99: Dogwood Coffee Co.'s macchiato
No. 100: Al's Breakfast buttermilk pancakes

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