Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Faribault losing one classy restaurant with Monte’s Steak House closure June 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:44 AM
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WHEN I WON A $25 gift certificate to Monte’s Steak House at the Faribault Business Expo and Community Showcase in late April, I told my husband, “We better use this before the place closes.”

I should have heeded my own advice.

Monte’s forced to close, a front page headline in this morning’s Faribault Daily News screamed at me.

“Oh, no,” I uttered to no one because no one was around to witness my surprise, even though this wasn’t really a surprise.

Monte’s has been plagued with issues from the get-go and has closed at least once, if not twice (I can’t recall details), during its several years in Faribault. Most recently, the property went in to foreclosure and was purchased by a Northfield bank.

The current tenant, apparently, has had enough and is opting out of signing a month-to-month lease on the building, the story reports.

For the community of Faribault, the closing of Monte’s represents, in my opinion, the loss of a restaurant that offered great cuisine in a classy atmosphere. Some locals even compared Monte’s to “restaurants you would find in the Cities.” I wouldn’t know; I’ve never dined in the metro except at a chain restaurant or two.

But at Monte’s, I sampled food other than battered, deep-fried everything that seems typical fare in these parts. Not a steak-lover, I stuck mostly to the pastas and was never disappointed.

When my second daughter and I last ate at Monte’s on St. Patrick’s Day, I savored a superb salad laced with locally-made blue cheese, toasted pecans, strips of grilled chicken and dried cranberries topped with a maple dressing. Crusty bread served with a garlic-infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar (or maybe it was garlic-infused balsamic vinegar and olive oil) dipping sauce accompanied our meals. I even tried crab cakes for the first time, sampled from my daughter’s seafood pasta platter.

Monte’s initially promoted itself as an upscale restaurant, and that may have attributed to the attitude among many locals that the food was too high-priced. Admittedly, I am frugal to the point that I typically order only water while dining out. And I don’t dine out all that often because, as I said, I’m frugal. So for me to dine at Monte’s means the prices were not, for the most part, unreasonable.

In addition to the unique food offerings, I also appreciated the atmosphere of this historic building, basking in the lovely wooden floors, luxurious leather booths, exposed brick walls and large windows.

Cloth napkins and hefty, real silverware added to the class of Monte’s. Dining here was an experience.

I’ll have one last opportunity to enjoy Monte’s. After I donned my eyeglasses so I could read the entire news story and not just the Monte’s forced to close headline, I learned, thankfully, that the restaurant will be open until June 18. That gives me exactly one week to get my butt downtown and use that $25 gift certificate.

I may even order a glass of wine. After all, my meal will be on a Faribault realtor’s dime and not mine.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling