Chateau Lamothe (Burnsville, MN)
By Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
Star Tribune South
November 9, 2005
We are the sort of people who think a perfect evening is one spent with friends over tasty food and good wine. The brand new wine bar, Chateau Lamothe in Burnsville, is well on its way to being the ideal spot for such a pleasant outing. We liked the quiet, comfortable surroundings with lots of menu choices.
Our complaint is that we want them to emphasize the wine more. A wine bar should be fun both for people who know wine, and those who just want to enjoy their wine. We expected it to be an opportunity to learn more about wine.
Unfortunately, Lamothe doesn't go far enough. The wine list isn't very extensive. Wine aficionados expect to see years listed for the wines, and novices need even more information. We liked that many bottles were $25 or less, but we wish this wine list explained a bit about the different wines. Tasting notes can be intimidating to the uninitiated, but a little information can go a long way.
We liked that the restaurant offered flights of wine: three-ounce pours of three different wines. But why not help the novice, and suggest flights of wine that are similar to each other, or different in some interesting way?
Too, our server didn't know much about the wines. Our suggestion, honestly, is to speak to the bartender. Lamothe is a small place, and has a posh yet friendly feel to it, so getting up to ask seems quite reasonable. If he's not busy, he'll come to your table.
The menu is all about variety, and offers lots of choices and many little plates. Appetizers are what they do here, and you'll want to order several and share them. We thought the spinach artichoke dip was spectacular, easily the best version we've had in ages.
There are several cold appetizers called "bites": the BLT bite is almost a chopped salad version, with the bacon flavor a bit understated. We also liked the smoked salmon and roast beef bites, though each dish was just four pieces.
But here again, Lamothe missed an opportunity. Why not suggest wine pairings for the different dishes? Matching wine with food is an important skill that greatly enhances a meal, and demystifying that process would go a long way here.
Definitely order dessert. The lemon torte was sweet, tart, creamy, and fabulous. The fudge bites were good rich dark chocolate, though the dish was just five quite small pieces. We liked the whimsy of the ice cream potato, and thought it tasted good, but it didn't look all that much like a baked potato to us. We'd also like some dessert wines.
Chateau Lamothe has been open mere weeks, and of course they are still working out some wrinkles. We know that wine can be intimidating. With their convivial start, Chateau Lamothe has a great opportunity to make learning about wine easy and fun. And with the long winter coming, gathering with friends over a glass of wine sounds so very pleasant.
14351 Nicollet Court, Burnsville
Phone: (952) 325-7709
Atmosphere: Posh but friendly
Service: Friendly but can be uneven
Sound level: Quiet enough for conversation
Recommended dishes: Artichoke dip, manicotti mushrooms
Prices: $20–$30 per person
Children: Primarily geared towards adults
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