Salut in St. Paul, MN

On Saturday, I spoke for a luncheon at St. Mark's Catholic Church in the heart of Merriam park neighborhood–an attractive older district on the west side of St. Paul. Most houses are wood-frame structures in the Queen Anne style. Summit Avenue borders the south side of this area, where the houses line up as if on an architectural scale model–perfect, precise, everything in place. Along the street people are in full motion, riding bikes, walking with babies in strollers and toddlers in wagons, retired men sporting local business-logo baseball caps. I can't help but wonder what it was like here 100 years ago.

After my talk, my friend Heidi and I went to Grand Avenue to find a quick lunch, choosing "Salut," a French bar with fine dining selections. The ambiance boasts of fancy, whereas the customer service reassures comfort. The name translates to "cheers" or "health." It is a wish to good health–something I am on a daily journey to find.

I ordered the Salut Chicken Cobb salad with avocado, blue cheese, roasted beets and a green goddess dressing. Just like Sally on "When Harry Met Sally," I replaced the chicken with grilled Ahi Tuna, which had to be done medium without much pink showing and the dressing could be mixed into the salad as long as it was light otherwise I wanted it on the side and I added pine nuts just because I like them and had read this ingredient on a different salad therefore knowing it must be an option if it existed in the kitchen.

Heidi ordered the Spinach Strawberry salad with no additions or subtractions. I think this is one of the reasons we are friends. Having to wait lunch on two people like me would probably make the waitress consider resigning and that truly isn't my goal when I eat out.

My favorite part of lunch was the end. I ordered a cappuccino which was served in a porcelain bowl, so large I thought it was soup. I took a picture with my cell phone, which didn't capture the delight of this coffee. Instead I made a mental note to keep the memory easily accessible in my mind, as those are where our best memories are kept anyway.

Heidi and I talked about being single moms, the treat of a good salad (whether you trust the menu or have to make mild alterations), dating, jewelry and how getting to bed before 10:00 PM is a major accomplishment. I enjoyed having time to just sit and soak in the day with a true friend on a street that holds some of St. Paul's best selection for international restaurants–a way to travel the world without
leaving the city.

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