Features

The Best Seats in the House

Valentine's Day, the biggest date night of the year—where will you be sitting?

Looking to hit it out of the park with your date this Valentine's Day? We went directly to the source—managers, hostesses, and even head chefs—to find out where the best seats in the house are, whether you're looking for secluded romance or see-and-be-seen action, or even if you're trying your luck at crashing sans rezzie. You're welcome.

Vincent A Restaurant
1100 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-630-1189vincent-table.jpg

Photos by Caitlin Abrams
Our source: Vincent Francoual, Chef and Part Owner
Which is the most requested table? 
It's table 18 in the restaurant side and table 83 in the bar. They are both along the window with a great view of the restaurant. Both tables are (secretly) named by the staff for the regular guests who use them every time . . . Sorry, I can't tell!
vincent-table-18.jpg
And which is actually the best table?
People, just relax! The best table is not about location in the restaurant. What makes the best table is with whom you share it, with whom you have the best conversation.

Which is the best table if you're looking for something secluded and romantic?
We do have an alcove where there are three tables (tables 9, 10, and 11)—they are all deuces. One year, a customer booked all three, surrounded the alcove with tall flowers, and hired three violinists for his wife's birthday. That's romantic.

Which is the best table if you want to be right in the action?
Action? Like see me losing it in the middle of service? That would be the kitchen table! Or tables 12, 20, and 40. Not for the faint of heart. I can sometimes be a French Gordon Ramsay, but with style. In the restaurant, on a night like Valentine's, we always open the mezzanine and we have a few tables along the rail. From them you can see the restaurant.

Okay, say I totally dropped the ball on reservations. Can I still get a spot somehow?
You will need my personal cell phone, and you need me to like you a lot as a friend. Sometimes it happens that I pick up the reservations line and feel so bad for the guy on the other side (picturing him to be in the dog house) that I end up figuring out something. Fellow man solidarity.
In life, you always want as a friend a lawyer, a doctor, and a financial person. I would add that having a chef also helps.

Borough
730 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-354-3135
borough-table.jpg

Our source: Keely Nyquist, Floor Manager

Which is your most requested table?
We don’t get a whole lot of specific table requests, but I’d say the most popular request is to be by the window. Which works great for us and the guest, since we have all of the windows.

And which is actually the best table?
Depends on what you’re looking for! The bar and kitchen counter are great for action and our tables in the dining room have amazingly comfortable chairs.
borough-bar.jpg
Which is the best table if you want to be right in the action?
The bar and kitchen counter. Seeing our bartenders and our kitchen staff do what they do best is fun and entertaining. Side note: Earmuffs optional at kitchen counter.

Okay, I totally dropped the ball on reservations. Can I still save face and get a spot somehow?
Generally we can take most of our walk-ins, but there may be a wait, especially on a Friday or Saturday. We will do our best to help you save the day. And enjoy a cocktail while you wait! There's a full menu at the bar upstairs, and a different menu in Parlour.

Meritage
410 St. Peter St., St. Paul, 651-222-5670meritage-chef-russell-table.jpg

Our source: Russell Klein, Head Chef and Proprietor

Which is the most requested table at Meritage?
Table 50, because it is in the window with great views of the Landmark Center and holiday lights in Hamm Plaza.
meritage-table-50.jpgAnd which is actually the best table?
Probably table 50, but for a couple on a romantic night, table 20. Table 20 is a great corner table where you can snuggle up with the one you love. It's somewhat secluded and private.

meritage-table-100.jpgWhich is the best table to see and be seen?
Table 100, because everyone has to walk past it to get in the dining room. It's in the middle of the action, under the neon "Oyster Bar" sign. It has great views and lighting, and because of its location in the bar, really fun energy.

Okay, I totally dropped the ball on reservations. Can I save face and still get a spot somehow?
The dining room is going to be tough, but the seats at the bar are always held for walk-ins. Of course, I'm a golf whore, so you can pretty much get me to do anything for a round at a nice course!

Butcher & the Boar
1121 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-238-8888butcher-boar-table.jpg

Our source: Andrea Karsjens, General Manager

Which is the best table if you're looking for something secluded and romantic for Valentine's Day?
If you're looking for secluded, there's a corner table in our lounge that's cozy and allows you to concentrate on each other. It's date-night certified! 

butcher-boar-table-63.jpg
Which is the best table if you want to be right in the action?

There's an island of a table near our wood-fired grill that puts you right next to the kitchen, table 63.

butcher-boar-bar-table-34.jpgAnd which is the best table to see and be seen?
If you like to check out who's coming and going all while sitting a little higher than the rest, our bar booths are the spot. There's one in the middle reserved specifically for couples, table 34.

Okay, I totally dropped the ball on reservations. Can I save face and still get a spot somehow?
If you snoozed, there's redemption at the bar. It's always a full menu and seat yourself. [Ed note: This does not give you permission to split a footlong in the beer garden.]

Burch Steakhouse & Pizza Bar
1933 Colfax Ave. S., Mpls., 612-843-1515burch-table.jpg

Our source: Noel Becchetti, General Manager

Which is your favorite table?
If you're looking for warm and cozy, the lower level tables are a great fit. No windows to remind us of the frigid snow-covered outdoors, plus you get both menus in the lower level.
burch-table-76.jpg
Which is the best table if you're looking for something secluded and romantic?
Table 76 is a gorgeous table right on the window with a full view of the dining room. It's banquette seating, so you can cozy up together on the same side for a romantic night out.

burch-kitchen.jpgWhich is the best table if you want to be right in the action?
That depends on which kind of action you're talking about. Food or people? The kitchen side is more brightly lit, and with an open kitchen, you're sitting feet from your meal being made. The bar side is high-energy, with lots of people standing and sitting, dim lighting, and rocking music. To be more specific, it's table 91, the first table you see when you walk into the bar area.

Okay, I totally dropped the ball on reservations. Can I save face and still get a spot somehow?
No reservations, no problem. [Ed note: !!] We reserve almost 50 seats at the bar and bar communal tables for walk-in guests on a first come, first serve basis, with full steak and pizza menus available. An insider tip: Most restaurants call to confirm reservations on the day of and get several cancellations. Give a call in the afternoon to see what may have opened up. We'd be happy to add your name to a wait list that day and call you back when something opens up.

Smack Shack
603 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-259-7288Smack-shack-table.jpg

Our source: Jon Jacklin, General Manager

Which is your favorite table?
When the patio is closed, our owners and staff really like the corner table in the very back of the dining room, table 44. Makes for a beautiful viewing of the big Smack Shack!
smack-shack-table-44.jpg
Which is the best table if you're looking for something secluded and romantic?
The lighting in the restaurant lends itself to sneaking some private moments, but the tables in the mezzanine upstairs are great for more quiet and secluded dinners.

Where's the best table if you want to be right in the action?
Spinning the wheel and playing pull-tabs in the front bar is the place to be seen. Or the Chef's Table in the center of the dining room. Only one table a night gets to be in the spotlight! The Smack Shack is a crazy place to be the center of attention.

Okay, I dropped the ball on reservations. Can I save face and still snag a seat?
Absolutely! We have two full bar areas and our entire bar seating area is first come, first serve. Walk on in and enjoy the full menu.

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