BEST RESTAURANT (MINNEAPOLIS) - 2003
Many places these days can dazzle us with their cooking. And yet somehow it is only at Vincent lately that we feel really and truly happy. Perhaps it is the generous wine list--the way a mere party of two can flight their own wines, having, say, a crisp muscadet with the fish-based appetizers (at $5.50 a glass, $16.50 a carafe, and $22 a bottle) and a beautiful rose-scented Jean Garlon 2001 beaujolais with the entrées ($6.70, $20.10, and $27). Perhaps it is the way the menu hits so many enchanting points, from the rich, comforting, and custard-based "seafood cappuccino" to the salad of pigs' trotters made into a gelatinous, boneless, skinless sausage, served hot on a plate--they didn't dumb it down! Perhaps it is the way the fish is so expertly prepared, like the roasted monkfish, which bears a seared crust of perfect weight that breaks to reveal a white and melting flesh. The pretty room, the gentle pricing, the simple service--there is a lot to thank chef Vincent Francoual for. But perhaps the thing we'd like to thank him for most of all is making such a happy, jolie, smile-filled space on Nicollet. Merci, Vincent, merci!