Vincent, A Restaurant is located at 1100 Nicollet Ave in Minneapolis, MN. Enjoying its 10th year, part owner and executive chef, Vincent Francoual has consistently been serving up his “no rules” contemporary version of French food to an appreciative midwest audience. He recently won the prestigious Minnesota Monthly Chef Challenge, showing everyone his creativity and expertise.
During the day, soaring windows fill the restaurant with soft light. At night, they create a sexy, sophisticated ambiance with spectacular views of the downtown lights. Dark wooden floors, beautifully complement the deep cream walls. A feeling of casual elegance surrounds you.
While the dining room may be white linens, the bar seductively invites you in with deep colors, thickly upholstered booths, tables and plenty of space at the bar to dine. There is even a large screen TV for watching the French take on the English in soccer and other sporting events. Vincent offers two happy hours with a great bar menu that is easy on your cash supply.
Step through the swinging doors into the kitchen at Vincent, and you are greeted with smiles and laughter. Not what I expected from a French chef and a busy kitchen. The feeling is one of focused camaraderie. The delightful aromas will bring you to your knees.
Slipping into a small space between a sink and a wall, I disappear. I make a note to ask Vincent why there is a picture of a man with a horse on the wall above the line (one of the cooks is a horse person). It is a reflection of a chef who is not uptight and cares about his employes.
when Vincent was 15 years old and living in his native France, he had a decision to make. He could either become a truck driver or begin his culinary pursuits. Twenty years later, he is still amazed to find himself in Minnesota, serving French food to midwesterners. “When I first came here, I had no idea how people would react to my food” he explains. Ten years later, Vincent, A Restaurant is deeply established as one of the Twin Cities’ top restaurants.
The kitchen is alive with activity. Line cooks blanket the front while prep and dessert creation has taken over the back. Working almost on top of each other, it is fascinating to see how everyone has a sixth sense about space and proximity.
The restaurant is fully booked. The Minnesota Orchestra is performing at Orchestra Hall, right across the Mall. A great deal of fine, French food needs to be served in a short period of time.
The kitchen has turned into a beehive. Everyone has their own job but functions as a cohesive unit. Everyone is thriving under the pressure.
Vincent is completely absorbed. One second he is overseeing a cook in the back, the next, sauteing quail on the line. Knives are flying, pans are bubbling with delicious smells and plate after plate is going through the window. Amongst all of this, Vincent pauses to show one of his interns how to plate a particular dish.
I met Vincent one morning at the restaurant, when it was empty. We walked into the kitchen, silence surrounding us and he told me, “I love my kitchen when it is like this”. As he pulled out some pans and started getting ready for a Saturday class, I was struck that after all these years, he still completely loves to cook.
Salmon, perfectly baked with skin fried to a delicate crisp, topped with mussels surrounded by purple potatoes and a divine velouté. Large, succulent scallops sitting atop a bed of fingerling potatoes and leeks, cooked al dente with just the right amount of bite, married together with an amazing orange beurre blanc, these are some of the many delightful dishes that await your palate at Vincent.
A surprisingly humble chef, Vincent never quite understands why people make such a fuss over his food. I do. It is creative. Its classically French elements become innovative with Vincent’s touch. Perfectly crafted, beautifully balanced, combinations of flavors that are sometimes unexpected, always perfect.
For Your Kitchen
Vincent has graciously given us his scallops in orange sauce recipe to pass on to you. Join us in Stephanie’s kitchen where Susan shoots while Stephanie walks you through Vincent’s delicious recipe for Scallops in Orange Sauce. We learned a few things along the way that will help you make this dish perfectly for your family or guests.
For the recipe, pictures and Stephanie’s notes, click here: Vincent’s Scallops in Orange Sauce
Vincent, A Restaurant For Reservations: 612.630.1189 www.vincentarestaurant.com