One of my favorite areas in downtown St. Paul is Mears Park. It is so much more picturesque and quaint than the nearby and more popular Rice Park and at the holidays they really decorate nicely with lights on all of the trees and music playing throughout the park. In recent years, Mears Park has also become home to a handful of new restaurants including FACES.
FACES Mears Park is a bistro, bakery and bar by renowned chef, David Fhima. The restaurant prides itself on using local, organic and sustainably farmed ingredients. On a recent trip to FACES, my husband and I enjoyed dinner at one of the window tables overlooking the lights on Mears Park. The menu features a variety of cuisine from steaks and seafood to Middle Eastern tagine, to sandwiches and salads. On our visit, we both ordered sandwiches, which might have been our downfall.
We started our meal with a happy hour appetizer of chorizo and potato croquettes. The croquettes came out warm with a crunchy exterior and soft and smooth potato center. While the texture was great, there was no real chorizo flavor. For our sandwiches, I ordered the hot turkey sandwich that is served with bacon on ciabatta bread. The main downfall with sandwiches on ciabatta is that they always seem a little dry and there is always too much bread. I decided to eat this sandwich open face and took off the top piece of bread. Even with one piece of bread removed, this sandwich was still a little dry and bland. It just needed a kick, a sauce or vegetable or some other condiment to take it to the next level. I got to try my husband’s lobster po-boy sandwich and found that his sandwich also suffered from too much bread. Overall, if you go to FACES, I would probably avoid the sandwiches and order something else from the menu.
FACES has an excellent bakery menu, so we decided to take something to go. It was a tough choice between the chocolate mousse cake and the carrot cake, but we decided to order the carrot cake based on the recommendation of our server. The carrot cake was a unique take on your traditional carrot cake with orange marmalade between the layers of moist cake. While I love the flavor of orange, I thought the marmalade was a little overpowering and at times, bitter. With a little less marmalade, I think this cake could be a real winner. The cream cheese frosting wasn’t too sweet and the cake itself had great texture.
When you go: FACES is located at 380 Jackson Street overlooking Mears Park. The deli and bakery open at 10:00 am and the restaurant opens at 11:00 am. Happy hour is from 3:00 to 6:00 pm and 10:00 to 11:00 pm.