What's the best way to start your meal at Meritage, the cute brasserie in downtown St. Paul that looks as if it belongs in the ninth arrondissement? The spicy tomato tingle of a bloody Mary shooter with a plump little oyster chaser? A doll-size blini topped with smoked salmon, crème fraîche, and capers? It's really hard to go wrong, so relax and make yourself comfortable. In fact, go right ahead and sop up the fragrant sauce from the bottom of that bowl of mussels, and drink the last of the broth from the matzo ball soup—just don't ask what matzo ball soup is doing on a French restaurant's menu. That's precisely why we love chef Russell Klein's spread. He offers all sorts of traditional Francophile favorites—omelet du jour, cassoulet, bouillabaisse—and then throws in, say, a tuna tartare taco just for good measure. From the moment the dapper French host makes his greeting to the last few bites of silky crème brûleée, dining at Meritage feels like a quick trip to Paris.